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Hero’s Journey designing life 2009

Alexandra Flamini

Hero’s Journey Ordinary World Call to Adventure Refusal/Acceptance of the Call Meeting a Mentor Crossing the First Threshold Road of Trials Supreme Ordeal Ultimate Boon Acceptance of the Return Crossing the Return Threshold Master of Two Worlds

Ordinary World

It’s an Ohio town of fox hunts and horse polo, white-washed colonial houses with black shutters and spring time festivals. A river runs through, gushing over water falls, orange leaves floating along in the brisk autumn air. Wild turkeys and white tail deer mingle with the upper-middle class in dew-dropped green fields with morning fog hanging in the trees. Sprained ankles on soccer fields, white socks turned red from softball dirt, squeaky notes in the Clarinet and a 3.85 GPA created my K-8 Kenston School District days.

2004 brought a relocation to Cave

Creek, Arizona. A terrain of dust and

cacti, starry skies and rare flash floods. The cities bump to the mountains’ foothills, doomed to never climb. It’s a town of cowboys, bikers and snow birds all taking residence in the serene hideaway at the end of Carefree Highway. The javelina and coyote rule the midnight desert. High school began and faced me down, down lower than I thought I could go. Hard times and low grades ripped my confidence apart. I became a theatre nerd and band geek; but I was forever happy under the hot stage lights and marching yard lines on the football field. They were my saving


My dad is Mr. Mom. My mom is Mrs. Dad. With my mom’s dominant and stubborn female personality and leadership strength and a dash of my dad’s creative and soft-spoken side, I am a passionate leader who requires a consistent creative outlet. I have a younger brother with whom I wish I were closer. We are a mere three-years apart. I am the straight-haired abnormality in my curly-topped family. Arizona is our fifth state. Rochester, New York to Dallas, Texas to Richmond, Virgina to Chagrin Falls, Ohio to Cave Creek, Arizona (and a possible relocation to Santa Monica, California in the next year). Not surprisingly, I’m addicted to change.

Upon my arrival in Arizona, I jumped into high school. I was a wide-eyed freshman and eager to start a new. Enthusiastic is the word my teachers have used to describe me since kindergarten. Stu-

dent Council, Drama Club, Marching Band, Literary Magazine, School Newspaper, Honors and AP Classes. By the time junior year rolled

around, I was hiding my depression behind organizations and artificial smiles. My close friends understood what a parking lot talk consisted of. Shared pain and difficult times plagued my final two years of high school. My self-esteem was more negative than the temperature in winter in Wisconsin. Thankfully, I grew out of my self-pity teenage years.

So who am I? I’m a pessimist who knows what she wants. I look (a lot) before I leap. I’m careless on occasion. Fully intentional. I know everything I am is a product of something else. There are no mistakes. No regrets. No turning back. I fear this will be the end. I am ambitious. Fire me up to tear me down. I’ll put it all on paper. I’ll tell you anything you ask. Do what you want, and I’ll do the same. I trust. I have recently learned to love. And to cry. I break easily, but I like to make. And create. And share. I’m different. Unique. Nothing you’ve ever seen nor met. I like it. I hope you do too. Life humbles me. I kneel. I breathe. I believe. I am cryptic. Never mind. I am human. [see next page for anatomical outline]

Call To Adventure

Refusal/Acceptance of the call

My acceptance letter to Arizona State

University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism came as no surprise. AP teachers stressed that anyone could get into ASU. Great. I wanted Maryland, Syracuse, North Carolina. Denied from each. I chose the Cronkite School. I moved out of my home 45 minutes north of campus and began this new college life. Print journalism became my passion. I wanted to cover international conflicts, speak out against unjust atrocities. I wanted to change the world. Then one day, after an extraordinary experience covering religion and conflict in Europe, I awoke. I realized I didn’t want to work for the AZ Republic for the rest of my life. I jumped ship and denied my call.

And now, Here I am. In the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. Striving to become a graphic designer, something my classmates tried to convince me to do out of high school. A call I refused, but returned to. I believe everything happens for a reason. And things that are meant to, always do. A palm reader told me I’d work with computers. Everything about this major feels right. The smell of the studio. The look of stark black Helvetica on bright white paper. The gleam of the scalpel. The rush I get from a completed project. The prospect of telling stories through images. I have always wanted to be a communicator. I am a communicator. So where does my journey go from here?

Here is where my path splits. I see two futures. But only one will come true, the other will shrivel like the fall leaves dry up and blow away as dust in the wind. I

could get accepted into the program. Completing me. Finally, I am part of something incredible. 1 of 44. Doing something I love. That feels right. That would make me smile on the way to work everyday. Because I would be creating. I could get rejected. Again. Knocked down, just so I can get back up. Again. I would return to journalism. Get my degree in something I am good at, but find a bit boring. I’ll graduate. Join the Peace Corps. Teach English. And then maybe become a journalist. Option one appeals much more. Let’s take that path.

Meeting a Mentor

I’ve quite often been disappointed by people. Mentors especially. I had one in high school. My drama teacher. She was awesome…at first. She inspired me as a lead actress from my first audition my freshman year. I was a strong actress. And I grew through my sophomore year when I played Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. My acting career’s climax. Then other people took her attention. Her mentorship to me faltered. I fell through the cracks. And my senior year resulted in no roles and an apology from her one day in her office. As she teared up, blaming herself, I felt awkward and uncomfortable and very much ready to graduate. “If you expect nothing from someone, you’ll never be disappointed.” -Sylvia Plath

Today, I am technically without a mentor. I would like to find one within the next semester- a design mentor. An upperclassman? A professor? I am President of the Residence Hall Association on campus. My advisor is becoming my

available. Always concerned. Always enthusiastic. He inspires me. I know I newest mentor. Always

can always talk to him.

But he doesn’t always understand the stressors of the design school. I need

a critical eye for my work. A kind soul for my personality. And an intrigued mind. Someone who is as curious about me, as I am them.

Crossing the First Threshold

In June, 2010, I will receive a notice. And my life will choose its direction. The results of my milestone will come. I

will be in. Or I will be out. I like to think I’ll be in. Crossing a threshold into three more years. Late nights. Long stu-

dios. Broken wine bottles. Graphical representations. How-to’s. Letter heads. Bound books. Poster auctions. Internships. Trips. New friends. New experiences. If

I’m out, I return to the life of pompous colleagues in the J-school. Interviews. Pant suits. CNN. Cameras. Stenographer notebooks. Press passes. Voice recorders. Deadlines. In June, my life will choose a path.

Road of Trials

Our lives challenge us. Always. Without challenge comes apathy, my biggest pet-peeve. Studios will beat me to the ground with incorrectly placed serifs or clashing colors. Being turned down from internship after internship, job after job. Harsh criticism. Coffee induced anxiety attacks. Unbreakable deadlines inevitably missed on occasion. Copious amounts of AP Style that changes every year. Cringing at poor grammar and typos. The use of a tacky font causing epileptic shock. I’ll do things incorrect three times before I do it correct once. I’ll tear up numerous photos, graphics and stories. Tears will fall. Metaphoric scraped knees will accumulate. And yet, I’ll continue trekking till my journey’s end.

Supreme Ordeal

I’ll graduate. The weight of college removed from my shoulders. Only to be replaced by the weight of the ‘real world.’ I’ll stumble. Falter under the weight. Crumple. The extreme exultation felt by ultimate graduation, will quickly end; and I will face the college graduate conundrum. What now? Many dreamers will be boxed into the 9-5 monotony of occupation. There won’t be jobs. Only if you’re lucky. Skill will no longer matter. Nor will grades. Dog eat dog takes over. No one has your back. Isolation as a result of defense will take over. This time, I’ll fall. Society will chain me to the ground. And my crises will begin. Bills will pile up. I will work in a job I hate. And I’ll live in crisis until I can break free. Until I am wise. Until the misery has beaten me silly.

Ultimate Boon

Hopefully my supreme ordeal will give way to success. Eventually a job will come along. I’ll relocate to a major met-

ropolitan city. Chicago? New York? Boston? San Francisco? Philadelphia? Brisk morning jogs in the park. Frosted windows. Painting in my free time. Honking taxis. Starbucks on my way to work. I’ll dress with class and work for a magazine or branding firm. High rise corporate America. A successful young woman (for my ordeal will be short). I’ll end up like my mother. Something a teenage girl cringes to think. But really, we’re the same. The seasons will pass. Years will pile up. Successes will continue to grow.

Acceptance of the Return

Crossing the Return Threshold

Service. Giving back. Mentoring. I’ve

always wanted to be a teacher, a member of the peace corps, a volunteer. To share the things I’ve learned with inquisitive students. To fill empty bellies. To paint homes in low-income areas. To rebuild cities. To bring peace. One day, when I’ve done all I can to contribute to my field, I want to enter service. In Africa, teach English. In Brooklyn, counsel troubled youth. At a university, teach classes in Corporate Identity. Start a non-profit organization for victims of rape. I will

give back to the world that gave so much to me.

Master of Two Worlds

I suppose this is where ultimate enlightenment comes. The sappy credits music begins playing (it’s actually in my headphones right now). Sea of Love by Cat Power. The major chords turn minor. The youthful glow sags to wrinkles. The mind slows. Your value depreciates. I never wanted to grow old. I never wanted this to end. But when you are 80, how much more can you do? Contentment takes over, you’re the

master of two worlds. Young and old.

Student and Employed and Retired. Naïve and experienced. Time to recede into the backs of memories and into the earth you were born from.

hero's journey  
hero's journey  

hero's journey paper for design class