I’m dusting off the old keyboard mostly for the sake of sanity. Today I wanted to talk about something that I’ve been dealing with lately, and still don’t have a full grasp on. So why am I talking about it now? I was reading an article recently about social media (surprise, surprise) in relation to Instagram and choices. Essentially, it talked about how we now have too many choices and feel exhausted when we try to make any sort of decision. I could relate to this article a lot, in the sense that I feel like I’m in this constant state of being overwhelmed.
In the recent month, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling so burnt out. Not just in the sense of work, but more so creatively. Whether that’s photography, graphic design, or even simple arts and crafts — I couldn’t compel myself to get excited over anything. All while I was the busiest I had ever been with my photography business, my weekends were booked with shoots and I was bringing in some good side money. But man, I was burnt out.
At first I thought it was because of the holidays and I kicked myself for not being more in the holiday spirit. But then again, the more I thought about it I had been in holiday mode since the beginning of October — fun thing about being in marketing; you’re always planning three months ahead.
Then one day my boyfriend made a comment to me, “Why are you doing all of this? You know it doesn’t put you in a good mental state.” The truth was I didn’t have an answer for him. I was torn because I knew I couldn’t do both. My job is demanding and it leaves me exhausted but I didn’t want it to get in the way of the passion I had for photography. As much as I hated to admit it, something had to give…at least for the sake of my mental health.
In the last two weeks I haven’t picked up my camera once…what worried me the most was the fact that I didn’t have any desire to pick it up again. Of course, this lead to my racing, “Had I lost all inspiration/motivation to keep doing photography?”
At that moment, I felt a little unnerved. It has been such an important part of my life the last two years. I was worried I had burnt myself out. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try anyways, I simply had lost the urge to create. Which seems like such a foreign concept to me. But as I was reading that article, it suddenly clicked. I’d reached my mental capacity. All mental space had been used up. There wasn’t any more room for creative inspiration. Yes, I know this is a sad realization and something that makes me sad when I think about it but I can’t help the way I was feeling.
Fast forward a week, I finally had some time to catch up with myself and reflect. But even more important, I made it my mission to unplug. I deleted time-wasting apps, like Snapchat and Facebook. This helped me tremendously, I had time to read a book I’d been wanting to read for a while now. I allowed myself to sleep in until noon, which I can’t remember the last time I did that. What I’d come to realize, was that with the desire to constantly create and feel like I’m accomplishing something, I forgot to take care of myself. I had put everyone else’s needs in front of my own. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I feel more in tune with myself.
So, when I say it’s okay to let the creative spark dim, I mean it. It may not feel great but everyone reaches that point sometime, whether it takes you a few weeks or months to get out of it, you can’t beat yourself up. You can only take a step back, reflect on how you got to this point, take some time for yourself and regroup.
Have you ever felt creatively drained? It’s something I know a lot creatives face, but it felt weird to describe myself as a “drained creative.”