“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I grew up in a black-and-white world. I lived by the rules, memorized exactly (and only) what my teachers required for exams, and hand-wrote my essays first in pencil and then over again in pen to present the neatest possible assignment.

This perfectionism was no surprise given my upbringing: seven years at a competitive all-girls school in Silicon Valley, two younger sisters for whom to model good behavior, and accomplished parents with wildly high expectations.

But secretly, I dreamed of painting in color.

In college, I stumbled upon a vibrant makerspace, walls drenched in rainbow post-its and rooms furnished with rolling desks and cardboard chairs. This design school flipped my expectations at every turn. I discovered a new way of thinking that revolved around surfacing questions rather than answers, experimenting with radical approaches, and even embracing failure.

I called my parents and broke down in tears—for the first time in years, I felt free. To my surprise, they were proud.

I want to build things that surprise and delight others. I want to unleash the untapped creativity in everyone around me. I want to set people free to live in a colorful world.

— Katie Kirsch