Faced with a tough question after being the victim of a hit-and-run: Meet Bethany of BE Design
Bethany Bauman is a Visual Designer and Creative Director based in Portland, Oregon
What do you do when you become vulnerable?
That is the question Bethany was facing during her recovery after a hit-and-run accident which had put her in need of help and support.
It requires a special kind of bravery to be vulnerable. Not the daring, fearless, and bold kind we typically associate with someone acting bravely. But the kind of bravery it takes to let ourselves be seen. And as author Stephen Russell shares, “Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
Sometimes we find ourselves with the option to be vulnerable. A chance to experience intimacy, true connection, creativity, or innovation. And other times, life puts us in situations that make us vulnerable. We still have the dilemma of what to do next, but we don’t have the control we once did. For those of us who are more independent, we can find ways to minimize our needs, whether it’s gritting our teeth and bearing the pain or denying our needs even exist. But is that brave? I don’t think so. I think it’s braver to ask for help and let people in. And the bravest thing we can do is accept the help that others are offering.
Below we hear part of Bethany’s story. She is a talented designer who has lived all over the world. From the Midwest to the South to South East Asia to South America and to the Pacific Northwest. Bethany has a rich and beautiful story. She knows both heartbreak and joy first hand. We got the chance to ask Bethany some questions. Here are her answers:
How did you get started as a designer?
I had been studying photography in Milwaukee, WI (on a music scholarship- ha!) and after 2 years we moved from darkroom production into digital imaging. With only one high school semester’s worth of photoshop under my belt at that point, my mind exploded during a typographical study in this digital class. I began noticing brand marks and thoughtful intentionality in product design — and that sold me. My photography professor encouraged me to pursue design, and since it wasn’t available where I was attending, I dropped out (sorry, parents!) took time to travel and was fortunate to discover a small liberal arts school with a solid design program in St. Augustine, FL.
What was a defining moment in your life?
I was in a hit-and-run on my bike while living in Austin, TX in 2011. The way my surrounding community and clients responded to that event remains one of my life’s most humbling experiences thus far. Working in a solo capacity now for nearly 10 years, it’s easy sometimes to think I’m the only one responsible for my triumphs, but the truth is that I’m only as strong as my collective community. I will always remember that season of life as one overflowing with tangible love and support — and I feel grateful for that swift redirection of what could have been much, much worse. It’s still an emotional place I plug into from time to time — both in my work and in my personal life.
What fears or resistance did you face in that process?
I feared — and still fear — loss. I wanted to keep my mind and my body and my teeth how they were, but we don’t always get those choices. I wanted to throw a giant years-long tantrum — and perhaps I did. It’s funny that the resistance component entered in the form of my community, banding together to show me that there is much more to be gained. These golden hearted people continue reminding me that I’m not alone, that I’m loved, and that I still have important and unique contributions to make.
Is there a favorite quote or mantra that gave (or gives) you inspiration? Or did you have a power song?
Ha! Sharing my power song is much more intimate and vulnerable than sharing my story. I’m quite embarrassed by it — and if you know what it is, it means I fully trust you. But I do have a mantra that rolls around in my heart constantly:
“This is a gift.”
It might seem cheesy or cliché, but not a single one of us is entitled to anything, simply because we’re breathing. Every single thing I own — from relationships to experiences to things — they’re all gifts, and I aim to celebrate them.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone facing a challenge ?
You already have much, much more than you could ever dream of — focus on the truth of that. Go outside. Take a walk. Connect with a friend. I dare you to prove you’re alone in this.
I also appreciate a salutation a dear friend signs every email ever with:
“Keep the momentum.”