Hand painted butterfly illustrations by Bat Favitsou. Shoot him an email if you would like to purchase  bat.favitsou@gmail.com

If you aren’t struggling, you aren’t living. In May of 2020, I’ll be graduating from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) with an MFA in Graphic Design. By all means, this experience has been a true test for me. Going back to school after working for a decade was no easy transition. Prior to grad school, my career was flourishing, I just got married, and I was in general pretty comfortable. A lot of opportunities were happening around me, and at times, it felt like going back to school was going to take me away from that.  My entrepreneurial spirit was telling me to keep rolling with my studio, but my mind was telling me I needed more. I had to push myself in the way that only school can push you—out of your comfort zone, into experimentation, books, and free from client objectives. Grad school was a risk, a struggle, and a financial burden. You’ve read in the news the stories of college debt, why would I put myself through that? 

The answer to me is simple—through difficulty comes ease. If you want to become the person you aim to be, you have to sacrifice. This sacrifice can be measured differently for every person. I recognize that grad school is a privilege not accessible to all so I feel very blessed to have had this experience. It’s something I never imagined myself capable of doing—it felt intangible. Without my wife, family, mentorship, and friends pushing me along the way, I would have never made the leap. All this to say, remember the value in the struggle. In the end, I'm better because I did this.

My mother-in-law sent me a story the other day that hit home. She’s always dropping these gems of wisdom on me—in fact she is one of the major reasons I decided to pursue an MFA. The story is called The Butterfly Struggle.

Here’s how it goes—

There was a little boy who loved caterpillars. One day he found one, took him home, and made a home for him. He watched this caterpillar every day making sure he had plenty of food and water.

One day the caterpillar started creating a cocoon… here he would go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly. This was so exciting, the little boy couldn’t wait to see the butterfly!

One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out. The little boy was so excited! But then he noticed the butterfly was struggling so hard to get out and it looked like the butterfly wasn’t going to be able to break free!

The little boy was so worried for the butterfly that he decided he had to help. He quickly got a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

But the butterfly had a swollen body and small shriveled wings. The little boy sat and watched the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, get bigger and expand to support the swollen body. 

But it never happened! 

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

He then learned that the butterfly was supposed to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions actually hurt the butterfly.