About comfort zones and decisions

Whenever I really need to focus on one thing in my life, my head starts spinning and I can’t stop thinking about thousands of other things. Even though I know this one thing is really important right now, I simply can’t stop my thoughts. Maybe some of you know what is important for me at the moment – I started writing my bachelor thesis.

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shot on Olympus Mju 1, Berlin, March 2019

Once again I can’t believe how time went by and that I’m about to end three years at university. It’s a good thing. I waited for this a longer time now, because at the end of the road there’s one thing in sight. Freedom. Not in the sense that I didn’t like going to university, I really did, more in the sense that I will finally have all the time to focus on projects I’m passionate about. About a year ago I fully started freelancing with some jobs on Instagram, and since last summer I got more and more into illustration, got my own online shop, did my first solo exhibition and a few weeks ago I also had a group exhibition at House of Vans in Berlin. This was a huge opportunity for me, showing my art next to artists that are well known in the scene of street art and graffiti. And I honestly never imagined that something like this would happen.


shot on Olympus Mju 1, Cologne, April 2019

And now I’m sitting here, on my desk at home, and actually should be sitting in the library working on my thesis. But if I don’t do these little things like writing, or sketching, I can’t give 100% writing my thesis – which is normal and ok I guess. And it kind of clears my head, once I wrote down my thoughts, it’s seems a little emptier upstairs in that chaos in my head. Well, that’s actually not where I wanted to get with this blogpost. My head spins around other things: the freedom ahead gives me a lot of opportunities. As a native of the digital age, I could go wherever I want to go, still sketching on my iPad, still writing this blog post – location-independent. Which automatically makes me face the question: where do I want to go? Or: do I even want to go?


Shot on Olympus Mju 1, Rome, March 2019

Not long ago I wrote about Cologne, the city that will always have my heart, about the place I call home. And not too long after I wrote that, something started to change. I feel too comfortable. I have to admit that I definitely am in that so called comfort zone. I know alle the heartwarming people, I have a solid circle of friends, I have my favorite spots, I know where to get good food, I always know what happens. It’s beautiful! And first and foremost… it’s easy. No need to look for anything, because I got all of it – right in front of me. Why look for anything else?

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Fabi, shot on Olympus Mju 1, Berlin, March 2019

There it is, my dilemma: One the one hand, I feel at home. I feel comfortable, being the person I am, totally arrived where I intended to be. On the other hand, something whispers: what else is there? Is there something else? Is there maybe something… better? And as soon as I only thought of that word “better” I feel bad. Why always look for something better, when you got everything? Why isn’t “good” enough? It’s the decision between jumping in that ice cold water another time, going somewhere else, forcing yourself to get used to a different environment meaning city, people, and jobs. Or is it just expanding your horizon? Thinking outside the box? And whenever it doesn’t work out, there will always be a way back.


Shot on Olympus Mju 1, Rome, March 2019


There are days I really feel like it’s time for me to leave everything behind. And there is not one single reason for it. There are thousands of reasons to stay. And it doesn’t make sense in my head at all. And then there are these days, where I feel like I never want to leave this city. These days come and go. And make me agonize. And who the hell will tell me what is the right thing to do? No one. I can just find the answer myself. I’m looking for it quite a while now. And anyway – there probably isn’t right and wrong, like always in life. I read a quote by Deepak Chopra a few days ago that completely described my inner chaos of thoughts right now. It goes “If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.”


Zarah, shot on Olympus Mju 1, Cologne, March 2019

To end this post with something, because it obviously won’t be a decision, I think listening to yourself will always be essential. A couple of weeks ago I had a situation, irrelevant what exactly happened. I didn’t listen to my inner gut. And for a few days, it seemed my inner gut was wrong, and how I dealt with the circumstance was right. In the outcome of the situation, of course (!) my inner gut was right. And in this case: yes, there is a right and a wrong. That would be my plea. Whenever you’re not sure how to decide, I think there is always a tiny tiny inner voice or feeling telling you what to do. Find time and especially silence, to hear it. Don’t rush, don’t move in disturbing surroundings. Encapsulate. I’m sure you can hear it. To be honest, a tiny tiny fraction of feelings is telling me something too. And sometimes, it can be really exhausting to live in the process of making a decision. It is very soothing to decide, just to get that feeling of being torn between two things out of your head. Once you decided, you’re relieved – or you notice you should’ve decided differently. Let go of fear, “wrong” decisions turn out “right” because it’s the best way you’ll learn.

“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” – Roy T. Bennett


Shot on Olympus Mju 1, Rome, March 2019


Benni, shot on Olympus Mju 1, Cologne, April 2019


Chris, shot on Olympus Mju 1, Cologne, April 2019


Jaqui, shot on Olympus Mju 1, Rome, March 2019

About overcoming fears

As long as I can think I’ve been drawing. Art and illustration is my passion, it’s the only thing I’m sure about, it’s the only thing that makes me feel calm. Calm in a sense that there is nothing else that can compete with the way I love sinking in movements of brushes with color. I compare it with meditating even though I wouldn’t contend what meditation is. It’s my safe place. And a lot of people don’t know that I always downplayed my own skills or talent. Giving up on my uncertainty and extreme humility was not one step, it was a process. Not saying humility isn’t important, but from that point of insecureness about what I did and still do, art I would say, to the point where I know what I want to do and achieve with it I had to overcome my own fear. I was scared of not being good enough, about not having enough possibilities in my future and the appraising looks from other people.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with one of my work colleagues. We were talking about our future plans and she mentioned that what she was doing right now wasn’t what she actually wanted to do with her life. She said usually, she had have had other plans, waiting for the right moment to change tack, to end things that didn’t satisfy her and start the things that fulfill her. I know we live in a society where we’re often looking for something better. A better partner, a better living situation, a better life. It’s put in our mind every day that we could exchange the life we live right now. But that’s not easy, money plays a big role and often a seemingly perfect life displayed on social media or in movies isn’t that perfect at all – it’s just our twisted perception caused by dissatisfaction and the unhealthy but never ending comparison to other people. 

That being said, I wanted to be getting at something else. The girl I was talking to doesn’t necessarily want a better (whatever that is) life, she just wants a different one. She knows what her passion is, her dream, but she’s not on the way of pursuing this dream. Why? There is only one good reason for it: she’s scared. Scared of all the things that might happen to her, in other words, that she might fail. And I know this fear very well. Fear is for me some kind of inner demon that belongs to yourself. It will probably never leave your mind, it’s symbolically adnate to your personality. It can also drive you to do things that can be good. But not always.In that moment talking to her I felt exactly what she was feeling. She was so honest and I could put myself in her shoes a hundred percent. There have been so many situations in my life where I was too scared to do something, to make a decision or just try. But the moments I did try, I was always glad I took the chance. Of course, sometimes we fail. Isn’t failing better than never getting that „what if?“ out of our minds? It’s so damn human to create this mirage, a special moment in our near future in which we imagine to finally do “it”, finally step out of our monotone whitewashed lifes and get what we were waiting for all along.

Often, the expectation is that we just have to overcome some thing, and some condition is getting better. We stay passive, just wait for the next thing happening. It’s a certain point in our life we’re awaiting. But truth is, this certain point never comes. As long as we don’t break out of everyday life and do things that scare us, not one thing will change. It takes courage, a lot of courage, but it’s worth it. And I believe we can learn to be brave. The first step is to put all your apologies you tell yourself to the side. There always is a reason for not tackling something. But honestly.. that’s all bullshit.Why are we always so pessimistic about an outcome? The negative result is just one option of various ones. Why can’t we trust that everything might go right? Steve Jobs once said the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do. And that’s the same with fear, isn’t it? If we’re always scared of the next big step in our life and stay in out little bubble, our comfort zone, we’ll never experience something new, and we will never really change something. Things might stay ok. But ok is not what your life should be like, right?

One of my favorite German child book authors Cornelia Funke said that the only thing standing between us and our lives is our own fear. It’s our little demon, the devil sitting on our shoulder. If we indulge, we’re feeding the fear. There is no change in life without paying with fear and it makes one feel incredibly happy and free to do things we are scared of. I think this is so true and I encourage everyone to overcome their fears. That’s how we grow. Everything we want is on the other side of fear – and what would we do if we weren’t afraid? There is always a way back if you fail. There are always people who help you get up when you fall. If it’s still in your mind, it’s worth taking the risk. 

My studies or why I do what I do

In the past couple of weeks my main focus in life started to be on my graphic design studies again. Not that it wasn’t that important before, but the more this semester took it’s course, the more serious (and stressful) it got. I received several messages with people asking about my art, what I study, why I study, what I like about it or if I would recommend it. That’s why I’m writing this blogpost, and maybe it’s not even a bad idea to tell you what I’m doing and why I’m doing it – I guess that’s pretty much who I am and as I said before, my main focus in life right now.

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Why did you decide to study graphic design?

During High School I discovered that I’m neither very talented in science, nor in languages. I’ve never been passionate about anything but art. I planned on studying fine art after graduating from school. At first I finished my apprenticeship as a dressmaker at home and moved to Cologne where I got a job as a flight attendant. I worked for a German airline for about a year – but I knew when I started that it was just some transition before studying. I had a fun time, got more self consciousness, met some people who still are my best friends today and made good money for traveling. I applied for fine art at Central Saint Martins College in London. I didn’t get in. It was my first attempt to get into university and I was disappointed – now I know this college is highly regarded and only the best of the best get a place to study there. I wasn’t ready in any way to study in London but it was a dream I’ve had for a longer time. In the meanwhile I also got interested in design and applied for graphic and communication design at HMKW (the name of my university) in Cologne – somehow I didn’t want to leave this city again and design seemed to be a better option to get a job in the future.


One of my Aquarelle Illustrations

What are your studies about?

The name of my study program is graphic design and visual communication. It’s definitely not only about design; there really are no borders between media design, communication design and graphic design, just main aspects that are dedicated to one of these subjects. I took classes in photography, art history, press, print, entertainment law, 3D and motion design, film, illustration and drawing, app design, color studies and communication. It’s important to learn various things of this broad range of subjects because every one connects to the other ones. For example, working with photography taught me things I can apply when working with cooperate or UX design. If you’re interested in studying the same you should be interested in all kinds of creative fields that design can offer. It’s ok if one of these subjects is ineligible for you, for me it definitely is 3D and motion design, but a certain curiosity to try new things is required.


A poster I made in university

Do you like studying?

I absolutely love what I do – but it has not always been like that. When I started studying about two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I’m into it. Having a creative mind was in my opinion not something that is controllable. I was creative whenever I felt like it and amazing things resolved out of that. In university it was unfamiliar being permanently under pressure to produce creative and decent works in a short space of time. There were some hurdles I had to overcome, but the good thing is that gradually you learn what it actually means to be creative, you get taught how to encourage creativity and how to cope with stressful situations. I have these moments where a deadline is near and I didn’t even start working because nothing I do satisfies me and I feel lost having not even one good idea. This also teaches you time management. You see, I learned a lot of things and there probably also are things I learned I’m not even conscious about. There are some people that say being educated in creative fields like graphic design shouldn’t take place in university but as an apprenticeship – I don’t have any empirical value in that but I can tell you that my studies are more than practical and I feel more and more prepared and ready to work in that business in a couple of years.


A children’s book I made at my illustration class

And what about your art?

I get a lot of messages from people asking me about my illustrations and what material I use. First, my illustrations have nothing to do with my studies but here and there I can make use of them. Funnily enough, there is nothing special about my materials. My grandma used to paint and she gave me all her old Aquarelle colors: I only have this one set of colors from “Schmincke” – I guess they’re over 30 years old but still work perfectly. I buy my paper, pencils (Faber Castell) and fineliners (waterproof, 0.3 mm diameter) at an ordinary stationary where you can get all kinds of office supplies. I outline my motive with a pencil, use the fineliner to sketch the final and color it in with Aquarelle. One thing is really important when starting to paint: Don’t be afraid. Just paint! Don’t think about how untalented you are, if something might go wrong, or if it will look good in the end. I promise you, if it’s not you – someone else will like it! In art there is no instruction, there are no rules or guidelines to follow. Just let yourself drift in the flow of colors.