And, not or

A designer I follow (Katie Zhu) has been producing my favorite art lately. It’s a series called “AND ! OR”, a collection of female portraits exploring false dichotomies in daily life.

I love these pieces because they’re a constant reminder to myself that it’s totally OK and natural to feel conflicted. These illustrations give me an easy framework to slip into when I start beating myself up over it. “Yup, it’s cool, you can hold opposing opinions.”

Lately I’ve been feeling this way about a lot of stuff. Some meaningful, some trivial:

  • I want to be an entrepreneur, or and I want a full-time job
  • I want to be a designer, or and I want to be an engineer
  • I want to spend quality time with my daughter, or and I want to spend quality time on my work
  • I want to sleep in, or and I want to wake up early for yoga
  • I want to play Overwatch, or and I want to play PUBG

And it’s all ok.

When I reflect on my best work, there’s always this sort of tension. Questions like “is this the right path?” or “is this good enough yet?” — oftentimes there’s no great answer. But being able to live with the tension can be magical and freeing.

I worked with leadership coach last year on working in ambiguity, and bringing my purpose through. He shared a powerful tool: replace “but” with “and” in conversations.

I think this piece is great, but and it could use some help here

It’s uncomfortable at first. You have to leave space open, and all you want to do is close it off. It feels a lot like when you start meditating.

Do it often enough, and you start finding comfort in the openness. You start seeing “and” everywhere. It’s wonderful.

Thanks for the reminder, Katie ❤️