I was moved to tears. Twice. At a design conference. Then there was a talk where I wanted to run up & hug the speaker to thank her for being cool and hard working despite being sick. I expect those things at BlogHer keynotes. And even when tasting gluten-free cookies from Kyra at the expos we attend together. But not at design conferences. And let me tell you, it was amazing. (Even the dude cracking poop jokes while he was emceeing was brought to tears).
Last year I left WMC Fest feeling like I needed to be working on a personal project because that was the key to success. (Let’s ignore the fact that I was -and still am-working as a web designer full time and write a baking blog.) But physically, no matter how I sliced it, I just couldn’t keep the original Chronic Positivity Project going.
I don’t hide the fact that I am
sick disabled stuck with a body that doesn’t work right a cyborg any more. I have talked about my choices for treatment, why my body is ridiculous and why my drawings will never be the same again. But just because it isn’t a secret doesn’t mean that I run around and tell everyone just what kind of private hell flares are. Or that it is the first thing I think to talk about. Even if it is pretty cool that I am a battery operated cyborg.
This year, I left with a different kind of inspiration. I don’t feel like I have to have a successful side project to be legit. (I am totally too legit to quit…) Making designs that are awesome and not for clients isn’t necessarily the secret sauce to a skyrocketing career. Instead, this year I left with a sense of what is possible and a reminder about what is important.
I was reminded that:
It is ok to work my ass off…as long as I take care of my body. The point of Caroline Moore’s talk was probably not that you can do anything even if you are sick. In fact, it was about how being creative (or shall we say a little bit punk rock) and not being afraid to do it yourself in your own way can have incredible positive impact on your career. But I heard the first part. Loud and clear. I have been needing to know that someone else who was my age and chronically ill had the chutzpa to keep going and not let her body keep her from her life.
Enjoy the ride, the ups and the downs. Success is a fickle beast, much like life. You can be on top of the world one moment and then moving back home like Jen + Omar from These are Things. But that isn’t a license to give up. It is an opportunity to learn and get stronger. Both professionally and personally.
Joy is in the small things. Find joy, embrace life and stop being afraid. Knowing how much my own outlook on life changed when I was diagnosed with CRPS in 2010, I cannot imagine how much more it would change if, like Troy DeShano I was diagnosed with cancer. Twice. To truly be a good designer you have to live a full life. And to do that you need to find joy and embrace life. You need to stop being afraid of what you don’t know. Try something new and savor all the moments while you take the journey.