Bites of Bravery Chomped, Chewed, and Processed

As 2014 came to a close, I’ve had little voices buzzing around in my head telling me about plans for 2015, goals for the distant future, resolutions, things I would like to accomplish. And honestly, all of them scare the living snot out of me. The guts of them are mostly comprised of things I’ve discovered about myself and others, but also advice people have given me.

So you, my dear reader—should you chose to carry on—are the proud recipient of these fastidious flurry of thoughts. Many of these topics are have been regurgitated time and time again from a self help article online or from a friend, collegue, and family member. So here they are again—chomped, chewed, and processed through my own system. Enjoy!


One of the hardest things I have had to struggle with in my life is fear. Growing up I feared I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough. Namely in the eyes of others. I constantly compared myself to others in a negative way—to my peers, my family, and my proud father. My fears are and still continue to be a giant scary monster that I think we can all relate to. People in general are fearful. We’re hard wired to be afraid, but we’re also hard wired to be brave. However, being brave is never easy, and almost always will result in an increased heart rate, or in my case sweaty palms. But if we were a little braver maybe we can all help each other. Lets start with the baby steps.Yes?


I’ve often been called a yes man indirectly before. Although, I’m not sure if it was an insult (it probably was). What I’ve learned from friends and colleagues is how to say no not just to say no. We can’t always appease everybody. There are times when I’ve said said yes to something and resented saying anything in the first place because it wasn’t what I wanted or I couldn’t follow through. The reality was that my “yes” was not really a yes, but rather, it was just a repurposed or repackaged version of yes with a quiet almost silent “but”. It was more of a—I’m interested, I want to help, but I’m not sure. But saying no is ok. I am ok with that. The world will keep turning and you will keep walking; pushing forward in whatever it is you are wanting to accomplish. When you say no, there are other doors that open for you which might have a “no, but lets see what happens” written across it.


This should speak to every creative. As an artist, designer, and illustrator (something along those lines) you cannot be afraid to make things that may or may not be below SUBPAR (dooming echoey voice). After all, the greatest thinkers and doers did not just have an idea that was brilliantly executed in the first experiment, or try. It took a lot of practice, perseverance, and trial and error. It’s inevitable that this process will result in failure and frustration sometimes. Or most of the time. But it’s ok. You might have heard the words “fail more” which I don’t really like because it sounds negative. Just tell yourself to just keep pushing forward despite what others think. Inherently, people and the stuff they make are imperfect, but that is also beautiful. I would like to adopt the philosophy of the 2012 documentary Beauty is Embarrassing; which is a funny, irreverent, and joyful film cataloguing the life of the American artist Wayne White. Go watch it sometime, it’ll make you smile and laugh.


Half of what I’ve said so far has been from bits and pieces of information that people have shared with me or taught me. Most of it comes from listening. Don’t be afraid to be open minded and listen to others. That was one of the first things my manager at Texas A&M told me on my last days of working for the University. She would say, “Chris, I think you need to work on on listening more…and communicate better.” Similarly, countless others have told me the same thing. Overtime I’ve gotten better. I’ve learned that being open minded, listening, and telling your story goes a long way. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without lending my ear or saying a bit about myself and my interests. You will truly never experience the same set of circumstances as the thousands of people you encounter. There are always gems of advice or wisdom they may give to you. Always listen—soak everything up like a sponge.


Listening to people can be a great stepping stone towards new, exciting discoveries and opportunities; but so is giving. Giving a gift, giving your thoughts and efforts, or giving your time to a project are all equally important but weighed differently. There were times, when I’ve given 110% to a project or undertaking and gotten no results from it—or maybe they just weren’t the results I wanted them to be aesthetically. You could compare giving to a fire. The fire always needs stoking and care. It needs air and resources. Sometimes the logs burn more quickly and sometimes they burn more slowly. You have to fuel the giving fire so it can burn and produce heat. When the time is right, and the heat is good, everyone can gather around the fire and share.


When I pause for a second and think about all the people that have touched my life, I reflect on those who have improved my quality of living or who have made me happy in some sense. You should surround yourself with people you enjoy being around, share similar qualities with, and who bring joy to your life. But don’t be afraid to meet and learn from people that don’t share your similar interests. And make time for your friends and family. In whatever form or place that may happen.


Your family and community are one of the most important aspects of being human. These relationships are made and can come from anywhere. Over the past two years I’ve had to trudge through the muddy hill that are my personal struggles and fight the inner battles I’ve encountered. I taught myself how to compartmentalize and I believe I am stronger from the experiences I went through—more than I want to give myself credit for. I cannot tell you how deeply important and necessary family and community are—especially to me. Family can be made of friends, friend’s families, and others. All together molding the heart that is love.


So, as 2015 is underway, I hope I could impart some advice on you that you can use as encouragement to forge your own sword and shield through the throes of battle and throngs of challenges you encounter in your life journey. It took a lot of bravery to write this and I’m sure it’s still not quite near perfect or “there” but I’m glad I wrote it.