Personal Development Diaries | Rachel Joanis

Meet Rachel of Rachel Joanis Illustrations. Rachel is one of the most thoughtful, talented, and kind people you'll ever meet. Her energy is so calming and gentle, her work and approach so inspirational, and her vulnerability in sharing with us so beautiful. I'm so excited to feature Rachel on the #personaldevelopmentdiaries and have you learn about her journey. Enjoy! 
What might people already know about who you are (the extrinsic you)?

I think people know me firstly as an illustrator. I think I might be best known for my freelance illustration/design work, and my own artwork that I sell through my online print shop. It might be apparent through my art, that I’m a feminist, and equality and inclusivity are important facets of who I am. 
What is something that people might not know about you (the intrinsic you)?
Most people don’t know that I have OCD; it’s something I’ve dealt with since I was a child, and continue to manage as an adult. I think a common misconception is that people with OCD like to keep things tidy and be really organized, but really it’s an anxiety disorder.

I made a commitment to myself when I was younger, that as much as I could, I wouldn’t let it impact the people close to me, or my work; so I’m continually working to make sure that it’s kept under control. 

I also don’t think most people know that I’m Jewish as well! I always get a look that says “are you really?” but it’s true! My years of Hebrew school prove it :)
What does personal development mean to you?

Personal development to me in a nutshell, means holding myself accountable; taking steps in addressing my own personal problems or issues and not letting them consume me. 

I also think being open to new ideas and continually learning is an important part of personal development. Allowing yourself space to fail and embracing your mistakes; looking at them as learning lessons, and seeing how you can grow from them. 
What has your personal development journey looked like?
I think my personal development journey really started when I began going to therapy for OCD/anxiety when I was in University; I wanted to have control over my anxiety and face head on insecurities that were holding me back. It honestly felt life changing; I gained so much clarity into my anxieties and how to work through them.
What are some of the most impactful tools you've found?
Meditation and mindfulness have had such a positive impact for me. Not only in helping to develop a deeper understanding of myself, but also in controlling stress, and feeling more present in my daily activities. 
Transformational moments?
There have been so many transformational moments in my life; ones that have helped my professional development and others that have had an impact personally. I think being accepted into the Fashion Program at Ryerson was an important moment for me, having the opportunity to immerse myself in art and fashion, and meeting lifelong friends is something I always hold dear.  

Also landing my first freelance commission was a pivotal moment. It served as proof that illustration wasn’t just a hobby or passion for me, but could also be my profession. 
Experiences that have helped you along the way?

Leaving my part time job so I could put 100% of my energy into illustration, felt like a scary step at the time, but that enabled me to launch my freelance career. Risky, but so worth it!
Never saying no to a job really helped me figure out what I liked and didn't like, where my strengths were, and what areas needed improving. 
Favourite rituals?
I love having a morning routine, it helps me feel centered and sets me up for a productive day. 

I love a hot water with lemon when I wake up, a short exercise or Yoga session followed by a short meditation if I have the time. I’m a news junkie (for better or for worse) so my favorite politics podcasts are always on play when I’m walking my dog or starting work. 
Life lesson?

A recent enough lifehack for me is meditation. Meditation and breathing exercises have majorly helped me whenever I’m feeling anxious or under pressure.

An important life lesson for me, is to have empathy for people; try and put yourself in their shoes and gain a deeper understanding of where they're coming from.
Words to live by?
As cliché as it sounds, treat others the way you want to be treated. My foundational value is basic – treating people with respect.
Personal development is about you, yes, but it's also about your relationship to and understanding of the systems, communities, and world that we live in. What is a topic that you're passionate about, and how have you approached that learning journey?
Diversity and inclusion are always at the forefront of my creative work. As a person of color, I feel a responsibility and a desire, to foster and promote broad representation of different ethnicities and body types in my work. 
Whenever I’m working on a commission, I always make an effort to ensure that I’m depicting a diverse array of images. My role in trying to address broader issues of racial inequality may be small, but I recognize the importance of representation in the media, and how it can have a profound effect on how people from minority groups are seen, and how they see themselves.
If you want to check out more of Rachel's work, check out her website or follow her on Instagram. Thank you Rachel!