The Journey Home

I used to love hiking. At least, my parents tell me that I used to love hiking. I vaguely remember trekking it with my invisible pal Kate, coincidentally my middle name. Not entirely original there young Sam. I would first find the ever essential walking stick, and after hours of exploring when my scraped up knees finally felt like they were going to give out, I’d devour the jerky and cheese sticks my dad had packed. Cheese cures everything. However as I got older exercise quickly felt less like play and more like torture, and the mosquitos seemed to have multiplied indefinitely. If there’s one thing that can really get me moving, it’s the pulsating buzz of an incoming insect into my ear. 

5.3 miles span the distance between my elementary school, my high school, and Michigan State. You can see all three buildings where I spent the majority of eighteen plus years of my life by driving down a single road. Years later, and the voyage from my current townhouse is a whopping 5.9 miles from my childhood home. And yet, I always knew I was going to go to Michigan State. I sat football game after game with my father directly across from the student section, admiring their enthusiasm, determined to stand on those bleachers one day. I was mesmerized by the campus, and I anticipated the fall walks my father and I would take on those Saturdays. Attending State didn’t really feel like a choice, but rather a wonderfully inevitable fact. 

I can’t exactly say the same was true after college, but what I do know is that I’ve never really felt the urge to leave Lansing. I didn’t have an aching need for escape, or a restlessness to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve visited plenty of other states and can appreciate the wild atmosphere of New York or the warm air and hills in California, minus the fact that I get insanely car sick. And I’ve definitely felt the curiosity to try something new, some place new, but I’ve never exactly felt complacent here. My job and what I do for a living is anything but predictable, and that leaves excitement and wonder that constantly keeps me rejuvenated. I don't know where I'll end up, but I'm in no hurry. While my journey hasn’t expanded many miles, my trail has been pretty damn entertaining. And what I’ve gained more than anything, is a place to call home.

This week, I worked on journey maps at work. The purpose was to document an interpretation of the overall story from a users’ perspective of their relationship through one of our products. At first, I was irritated at the thought of creating one, the way I often felt when forced to develop an outline for a high school term paper. After I was done though, I felt like I had a cheat sheet for creating the rest of the design. I had done a lot of the grunt work up front, and now the term paper portion was feeling a lot less daunting. It was great to have to force myself to ask the questions a user may be asking, to try and empathize with their journey. That’s something we always aim to do as designers, but a little reminding ain’t ever hurt nobody. Basically my end goal is to try and make sure everyone has a really badass walking stick for the hike.

 

Samantha NovakComment