Design for Discouragement

“I hate that I can still be so easily shaken, and somehow I convince myself that if I could just develop a healthy enough psyche, life couldn’t touch me.” -Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

I wish the men in my life would stop wounding me. For the most part, they are godly, well-intentioned men. They are just thoughtless and oblivious. And I say that in the kindest way possible.

There are a few officers in my a cappella choir, one of whom is our Media Director. Knowing my experience with graphic design, he asked me to design some posters for our upcoming concert. I was thrilled to be asked and ecstatic to get started. I love to create. I love a blank canvas. I love developing a vision and seeing it become a reality.

Unfortunately, the Media Director already had a vision in mind, but fortunately, it’s one that I liked. He asked me to employ a minimalistic style, but when I showed him my work after spending an entire evening in Illustrator, he said it was too simplistic. Hmmm… minimalistic art being simplistic…? Go figure!



The Media Director sent me a patterned background to add as a layer in place of my simplistic one. I thought his background made the poster look cluttered, but I did what he asked. When I sent it to our Choir VP for sign-off, though, he said it was “too busy” and needed to be “simplified”. I’d used posterization because the media guy asked me to, but the VP said it made it “too hard to make out people’s faces”. He asked me to remember that we want “an aesthetically pleasing flyer.” Oh, we do? Sorry, I thought you wanted an atrocity of a flyer. 



Art is personal. It’s an extension of oneself. To criticize someone’s artwork without offering any kind of compliment or encouragement is damaging. In his introduction to The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne wrote about the vulnerability of self-expression through art forms:

“The truth seems to be, however, that, when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him, better than most of his schoolmates or lifemates. Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed, only and exclusively, to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy.”

Still further, I was only trying to do what our Media Director asked of me. I wish the officers had gotten aligned, that the VP had been kinder in his words, and that the Media Director had backed me up when the VP criticized my work that was a direct result of his guidance.

There were a few other instances with other guys this week, but I don’t even want to write about them. It will just get me upset again and stir up all kinds of insecurities I thought I had already dealt with.

“I feel everything. My joys are huge, and so are my sorrows. If I’m mad, I’m really mad, and if I’m despondent, I wonder how on earth I’ll go on… God gave me this tender heart, and though I want to give up my chronic insecurity, I really do want to hang on to my heart. I like to feel. When I don’t feel something, it’s like being dead.” -Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

Authentically Aurora

16 thoughts on “Design for Discouragement

    • Thanks, CYLJ. I never considered myself a hyper sensitive person until the past couple of years. Recognizing it has been helpful. I hope to learn to process my feelings of hurt in a healthy way and to put people’s comments into perspective before internalizing their criticism.


  1. I’ve been in similar situations, and I truly feel your pain. You are asked to do something you understand and do well, you try to keep everyone happy even though they don’t agree with each other about what they want (and probably understand less than one-tenth of the subject than you do), and you feel guilty because they are “disappointed” even though what you’ve given them is high quality work. (For free, too, I gather.) It’s hard to shrug off their insensitivity, but nothing you do is going to change them. I hope this Friday night and Saturday you’re able to retreat into someplace restful and enjoyable.
    And if I ever wound you in anything I write, I hope you will let me know. My feelings will be crushed, of course, but I can take it. I’m all grown up. And I definitely would want to offer you the apology you deserve if I have offended you. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, J. You are wonderful. I always feel understood by you and encouraged by your words (truly, being understood is an encouragement in and of itself)! I am praying that I shrug off my insecurities and perfectionism that are resulting in my hyper sensitivity. Daughters of the King should not be so easily shaken!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Man those guys are the worst. Why do they keep doing such things to you? Don’t they know how talented you are and how awesome you are? I just don’t understand how they could be so callous and ridiculous and really contradictory. Honestly if you don’t like how someone does something why would you ask them in the first place? I hope your weekend gets better, Aurora Borealis!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Art is personal. It’s an extension of oneself. To criticize someone’s artwork without offering any kind of compliment or encouragement is damaging.” This is so true. Even when it comes to design work, if someone just says “I don’t like it” without giving me any reason why, I do take it personally. My boss is similar to yours in that he’ll suggest terrible ideas but then once I try them, he doesn’t like it. Ahh, so frustrating. I hope your weekend goes well and that next week is better!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aurora,

    I hear you! Perhaps you should try a totally different approach. Antithetical to your established methodology, I believe you should consider traveling to Arizona for the purpose of meeting me. When you arrive you further step out of your established comfort zone by whining and dining me. Your paying for the dinners, entertainment and whatnot would hopefully rattle you out of your current despair. Furthermore, and much to my anticipation, I will wait for you to plant the first kiss on my welcoming, humble lips. You might opt to preemptively initiate a hand hold and/or hug before the kiss. It would be your decision.

    After a few days of the aforementioned therapeutic variation to your life I believe you will feel much better. I look forward to our encounters, Aurora. May our time together be as mutually uplifting as your smile is genuinely warm.

    Liked by 1 person

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