112019: If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going

November 2019

Partly stressed, partly depressed, with a tiny spark of excitement, I am sitting in front of an empty slide deck. It’s some rainy weekend in October, and I am supposed to give a talk about my work during the upcoming week. I am paralyzed.

I used to give presentations quite frequently; I would even say that it used to be one of my best-trained designer muscles. But during that weekend I noticed how rusty I’ve gotten; how tricky I found it to draw a line without an actual pencil; and how shaky my voice gets while it peeks on the speaker notes. On the other hand: I really, genuinely enjoy it. I love talking about design, about an idea or a craft or a process, drawing that story line and deciding what’s worth saying and what isn’t. I just haven’t done it in a very long time.

So, as I am sitting at my desk, blank page horror in full blossom, I text my friend Ralf about my sorrows. He reminds me of a very basic wisdom: “If it doesn’t work, keep doing it—it’ll come to you eventually.” If you’re going through hell, keep going. It sounds cheesy, plain and overly dramatic, but drama helps, ffs sake; emotions help!, and it has a whole lot of truth to it. In the end, that stroll through hell saved me yet again: After I finished the slides and after the presentation was given and when I allowed myself to be relieved, I noticed: Wow, It’s good to be reunited with something I really like. Winning that spark back wasn’t as hard after all, it just felt so for a little part of the way.

Speaking of speaking: In October, I was invited by StanHema to talk about my design work and its relation to writing and text. That was fun, because as as we all know: Design is writing is design, and sorting and sharing all these connections in my head was really motivating and eye-opening.

I also noticed that this September marked my 10-year-anniversary in Berlin. I’ve always imagined to write a huge thinkpiece on how this city changed me, my life, my believes etcetera yada yada, so that in the end, I just published a list of random thoughts.

Learned about myself: I’m really into poetry. Actually I’ve always been, I just didn’t want to admit it, and I only like the weird stuff. And Rilke.

Even more links: I enjoyed this documentary about elderly people who speed-date (German); I learned a lot about Susan Sontag in this article about writing her biography; and I always admire Robert Riegers photography and especially his instagram posts.

I hope you’re all on a safe stroll off of any hell-like trails, but if you’re in the thick of one: Keep going! Have a blissful start into November.