Ricky Salsberry / Designer / Chicago

Addressing Fear

March 13, 2014

Lately I’ve developed bad habits, a lack of drive and lost direction. Oddly, much of it has to do with the fact that things in my life are going pretty well. I love my apartment, my girlfriend, and my daily routine which includes a lot of freedom that many of my colleagues don’t seem to have. And, I get paid well in the process. I’ve made a lot of good work – but this has led me to end my 20’s with a sense of comfort, complacency, and fear.

Seven years ago today, my younger sister Lindsey passed away from a long battle with a rare form of cancer at the age of 21. I was considered smart and driven then, but she had me beat in both areas despite being twenty months my junior. After the initial diagnosis during a period of remission, she switched her college major from pharmacy to medical research. She told me she wanted to help cure cancer.

A two-year battle of countless surgeries, chemotherapy, and nearly beating cancer showed me that she was the toughest and bravest person I’d ever know. I’m not remotely as tough or as brave.

After that I became more driven than I had ever been. I buried my head in class and freelance work as a way to grieve. And I was angry, and I imagine I always will be to some extent. Angry at everything because this happened. She didn’t have the chance to go after the life she wanted and worked hard for, so I felt I needed to work twice as hard. I owed it to her not to waste my time and opportunities.

I turned thirty earlier this year and know I need to regain the fire I lost somewhere along the way. I’m starting to turn the corner by concentrating on my everyday habits. Taking more risks, writing and reading more. I’m launching this site with this post and later this year I’m starting my design studio. I’m going to fuck up a lot along the way – but these things will push me beyond my comfortable existence, beyond making just good work. It’s the only way I know that I’ll ever approach great work.

I owe it to Lindso to be brave and get through the fear to make the life I’ve been too scared to pursue. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines with small dreams.