I’m afraid of not leaving the world a better place.

This is one of many Fear Confessions in which creatives share personal stories about facing their fears. Let’s celebrate vulnerability with Heylen Thienes as she shares her fear of not leaving the world a better place.


I admit it. This fear was partly influenced by Becky’s fear. Because, apart from being afraid of failing at my calling, I’m afraid that I’ll use my calling for selfish gain and thus open the door to an even greater fear: not leaving the world a better place.

Growing up, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela were my heroes. They dedicated their lives to other people and for causes they truly believed in. They were prepared to give it all up (and did) for things they were passionate about.

I fear that I’ll get caught up in the daily humdrum of life – meeting deadlines, meeting clients and chasing the next self-indulgent adventure or project – losing sight of things I’m truly passionate about. That I’ll become a modern-day zombie, getting caught up in what everybody else is doing, tweeting about or how many likes I’m getting on Instagram. Will these unimportant things (in the big picture) become the rulers of my life? I want to live bigger than that.

When I was a little girl I thought I’d end up working for the UN or on the battlefield taking care of the sick and wounded … and then I realized the sight of blood made me queasy. A medical career was just not going to be an option. I’m passionate about design, education and helping those who are at a disadvantage because of a lack of resources. While I still don’t know how a love for collages and graphic design is going to sort that out, I sure as hell can work hard to try and figure it out.

I refuse to put graphic design in a box where all I do is branding and websites (don’t get me wrong, I love doing those things). As a designer, I want to go beyond that and use this passion and skill of mine to empower others to use their own passions and skills to become the best of who they are. In doing so, I am leaving the world a better place.

Is that too ambitious?

Heylen Thienes is a graphic designer who creates visual identities and websites for small business owners. She blogs about her life, recent adventures, work and lessons she’s learned. She’s an airbnb hostess and thoroughly enjoys a good cup of tea with a large piece of chocolate cake.

Image credit: Heylen Thienes