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I've Been Thinking About Bravery
I’ve been thinking lately about bravery as I've been talking with a friend who is thinking about getting divorced. She has been wrestling with the idea of whether it’s more loving and brave to stay or leave. This weight on my friend’s shoulders is one that so many married people wrestle with. What is the most loving choice? And then to follow through with that choice (whether it’s staying and working on things or leaving and working on things in a new way) takes a literal leap of faith that requires a level of bravery that everyone is capable of but not everyone chooses.
What does this have to do with design? Maybe I’m taking too big of a leap here myself, but what I’ve been thinking about is how much bravery we all really need. We exercise bravery throughout our lives even in the little things - like designing our homes. I know it’s a very different level of bravery, but if we don’t practice it in the little things, when it comes to the big moments in our lives our bravery muscle will be weak, so maybe talking about taking every opportunity to be brave is a worthy endeavor.
It’s a brave thing to create. When you are creating, you are bringing something into existence that hasn’t existed yet. That is a very vulnerable and personal thing, and because it hasn’t existed yet there is inherent risk. This risk, this vulnerability is woven into design and it’s crazy uncomfortable for all of us. I’ll just speak for myself, it’s the part of my work that sometimes feels like it will eat me alive. As a creator I am so vulnerable every day to criticism and failure. I am also open to bringing to life a vision, creating new experiences and feelings, and open to praise. But the negative side is so scary. I have decided to not let fear be my guide, but rather my bodyguard. Love is my guide, and being brave is an action of love.
Together with my co-creators at W Design, my clients, the architects, builders, subcontractors, artisans, and furnishing companies, we help each other create something that hasn’t existed before in this exact way. We help each other achieve a vision that our clients were brave enough to envision, to plan for, fund and trust us to work through. Even the little decisions, like when I decide on a simple fabric for a pillow for my daughter’s bed, or how to decorate the dining table at Thanksgiving, I am making a tiny brave choice to try something new, see what effect it has on the space, and live with it or host my guests and hope they like it and that the choice feels good.
When I or those around me are brave and choose to trust, choose to create something new, choose to design for themselves and not what’s necessarily “popular” it’s the best, most fulfilling feeling. It’s a full measure of creation, and it’s what fuels every creator, which everyone of us is, whether we choose to identify as one or not.
So my fellow creators, may we choose love and bravery to lead the way. Leave fear where it belongs, keeping guard over our survival but not stopping us from living our lives. Let’s continue to bravely create together. I will continue to exercise bravery every chance I get, I hope you will too, and to my dear friend who has to make one of the hardest decisions of her life, I hope staying focused on love will lead you to where you need to go.
In the words of Brene Brown, who has taught me so much about bravery, “stay brave and kind.”