Some of the strife I put up with is the seriousness of my field of study. Graphic Design is such a seriously criticized domain for professors of higher education. A popular career choice since most people can make of living of it by using Photoshop in the privacy of their own home. Yet, we find it to be of limited potential for a student with no knowledge of software to be shrunken when evaluated on his or her performance in school.
Here I present to you the strange world of Graphic Design. If you want to find yourself in a pool filled with sharks, tight deadlines, didactic gospels of typefaces and endless attempts to educate the philistines on what good design means ... welcome aboard. Life doesn't get any better for a freelance designer.
But have patience, because in the end there is a slight attempt in getting your talent noticed. Perhaps one day the perfect client will understand why you changed the color of the banner, omitted some of her copy from her clichè writing skills and she will dare to overpay you for such brilliant work.
Unfortunately, clients like that don't exist and pretty stories are only found in children's publications (which is a great job you should land immediately). Criticism is your best friend and your only hope. Sure, your first critique in class would hurt the first few dozen times. You'll outlast the pain and soon be callous to anyone's opinion of your work. From that point on you'll just keep doing what you're doing better, and they'll keep doing what they do better. It just works out like that.
You may ask though, why would someone like to work like that? I'll tell you why. Making a career in shapes and colors beats the hell out of boring subjects like botany or accounting. A highly caffeinated graphic designer lives their life in constant consciousness of their metropolitan surroundings. That's their zen.
Instead of seeing a map of the bus route a designer sees a layout through a grid system. When you show us a flyer for a lost puppy, we scoff at the use of Comic Sans font and use fancy words like "kerning" and "hierarchy" in reference to text placement. We hate it because of our awareness, and love it for the very same reason.
Many of us still don't know why we chose this path but when you're in here, you can't help but have more coffee and keep working.