Advice from the past….


Once upon a time (and I really couldn’t tell you how long ago) someone had said to me “If you do anything wrong long enough, it becomes a style.”. They were talking specifically about illustration. It makes sense. It is a bit of advice that has helped me many times over the years and I have continued to pass it on along.

The things that you consider your defects could very well wind up contributing to your strengths in time.

It never occurred to me to apply this piece of advice to anything beyond art.

That is until this week. It’s not the first time someone has said something about it, but two people that I respect mentioned it this week. They told me that my refusal to conform is inspiring (in different contexts).

In all honesty I have always considered it to be a deficit. I joke about the definition of Self Employed being: Unemployable. A lot of us “couldn’t make it” in conventional work environments. Personally I had a few major issues with real jobs in the Corporate World. The biggest problem being that I was never very good at keeping my mouth shut when I needed to. I questioned directives. I gave my opinion. Very often when it was far from appreciated. I was not satisfied with “because I said so” as an answer. Many supervisors do not want to be questioned. Especially in a group setting .

Anyhooo…. I wasn’t good at it.

I didn’t like being told what to do. This wasn’t limited to work. In my personal life it was referred to as being “contrary”. If you told me not to do something it made me want to try it.
(Who am I kidding? I still don’t like being told what to do.)

I wanted to know why. I wanted to know lots of things. I wanted to try lots of things and if someone couldn’t give me a good reason why not… I would give it a try.

“I’ll try anything once, if it kills me I won’t try it again.”

It led to a lot of stupid decisions with varying degrees of consequences. I got clean and sober. My decision making process got better, but I remained contrary. Eventually I found myself here. Owning my own business. Building my own Tribe. Surrounding myself with other “misfits” – loving them all for their individuality, their creativity and their beautiful hearts. Making a living from the “stupid” and “worthless” pastime that kept me from being the “right” kind of productive. I am happy in almost every area of my life and am inordinately grateful for the loving supportive bubble that I get to exist in.

In all of this time it never occurred to me that this all came from my inability to fit in. If I would have even been able to fake going along with the crowd and following through on what people told me that I should do – I wouldn’t have landed here. I wouldn’t have all the opportunities in front of me that I do. If I had listened to all the people that told me that it was impossible…. I would be miserable. I would be unfulfilled. I would be lonely. I would be pretending to be someone that I am not in order to get by.

Some times I can be a little slow coming around. I still battle depression and imposter syndrome. Life is not perfect.

But damn, it is GOOD!

I am so grateful for where I am today. I am grateful for my Tribe that carries me when I falter. I am grateful for all of the humans (both live and internet) that reach out to me to tell me that my art has touched them in some way. I am honored & humbled that people continue to ask me to decorate their bodies. I love that my art enriches other people’s lives.

It begs the question…. what else am I beating myself up about needlessly?

What are your “deficits” that have blessed your life?

How can we all learn to be nicer to ourselves and embrace our “failures”?

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Thank you for sharing you with me in whatever capacity that you have. Thank you for being here.

Go forth and LOVE.


And if you do it wrong long enough…. it’s a style.


~ by justteejay on November 14, 2019.

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