Burnout…

A topic most people, especially artists and writers, don’t want to think about. Let me tell you, I’m one of them.

I can feel it right now, in my eyes and in my brain. I haven’t thought about it before, not until the other day. My mom noticed and commented that I go in cycles where I get this project driven mindset and I cram a whole lot into it and then I go through this cycle where I have no motivation to do anything… the changes are sudden and fairly unpredictable in how long the cycles last, but the no motivation takes far longer to leave than the extreme motivation phase, that one is usually pretty quick. The fun part is that even while I have no motivation my brain is in overdrive and I just want it to stop…

First, if you have this problem, I do recommend seeking help, I am planning to talk to my doctor soon because bipolar/manic-depressive run in the family and I know about my depression and anxiety and those can mean I might have a whole cocktail of mental issues I don’t know about. If you don’t want to see your doctor or a therapist, I suggest a pastor/spiritual leader or a close friend or family member for support… You are not alone.

Second, this is what, for me, is called a burnout cycle. You create and create and create, but then you just kind of stop, you are exhausted in mind and body. It sucks.

If left untreated or unnoticed, I’m speaking from current burnout, it can go on for a long time. Personally, I have been experiencing this since college. I think I forced myself too hard with my course load and the amount of writing I took on all at once without allowing myself to have fun and relax.

Part of burnout is when you run out of fuel, sometimes physically, and sometimes mentally… but either way you are exhausted.

I think I’ve been burnt out since college to be honest… and I have no idea how to get out. I guess I’ll keep you posted because I don’t even know what I’m doing…

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Frustrations

I’ve been experiencing a wide range of emotions lately and it’s left me in this awkward and frustrated state of being. My friends from my past, because very few of them still talk to me and we all seem to hold little interest for each other anymore, are all getting married, having babies, getting new jobs and moving forward with the world.

It’s hard to remember that there isn’t really a set timeline for success and the way your life is supposed to unfold when everyone else is progressing and here you are, moved back in with your parents, working a job that has almost nothing to do with your field of study, and you have no social life to speak of. Let alone the potential for a future family. I sit here and watch all of these societal norms pass me by, and I ask myself why they’re even the norm while I still feel my heart sink because there must be something wrong with me.

I keep trying to remind myself that Abraham and Sarah were REALLY OLD when they had Isaac. Noah wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when God asked him to build the arc either. Moses had a stutter, David wasn’t the largest or most handsome of his brothers… and he ended up being both an adulterer and a murderer. Ruth wasn’t even a Jew. Rahab was a prostitute. Jacob lied to get his brother’s inheritance. Peter, arguably the best friend of Jesus when he was on this earth had a temper and could be one of the least faithful of all of the disciples. Paul persecuted Christians before becoming one of the most prolific writers and teachers of the gospel in all of history… and Lazarus was DEAD.

God doesn’t care about timelines or resumes.

He doesn’t care that I’m not the artist I could be. He doesn’t care that I’m not the writer I should be. He doesn’t care that I’m not married or having kids right now; He doesn’t even care that I’m living with my parents.

That’s not to say that God doesn’t care about anything. I mean, He knows even the smallest of sparrows, its every fear and need.

He sees the big picture and from my smaller piece of the picture it’s kind of hard to remember that.

Part of me feels like I’m some kind of failure living with my parents at 23. That part also feels like I’m broken because I have no desire for marriage, kids, or even a partner. I mean, everyone else is doing it, why don’t I want to? It feels like everyone I know is moving on to bigger and better jobs and places and adventures while I’m sitting here still afraid of my own shadow some days. Wondering if I’ll ever be good enough and afraid of putting my pen or my pencil down on the blank paper because I don’t think I can do it justice, but knowing that I’ll never improve if I don’t do it, that I’ll never get that awesome job related to my field if I don’t apply.

It’s terrifying and frustrating all at once because while I’m happy for and proud of my people for doing these things and moving on with their lives, I feel stagnant and stuck, but I’m also terrified to leave what is relative safety. I don’t hate my job and there is no real motivation to leave for me other than that stagnation, like my life is meant for more.

All I can do is pray about it and weigh my options, but other than that, I’m helpless and that frustrates me to no end.

Haikus

1

She walks in the room

perfectly clothed in midnight

the married man stares

2

He vomits, too much

returning to the table,

eyeing the dessert

3

The old man sits alone

surrounded by lifelessness

things he chased instead

4

The writer watches

pen unmoving, tells himself

it’s all writing – yeah?

5

the babies cries start

“Shut him up!” the husband yells

mother’s face is bruised

6

“Working late” again.

He misses his wife’s call; he 

doesn’t know she left.

7

He looks up at me

asks only for spare change, but

I want my coffee.

Adventure

Life is an adventure and most of the time it’s safe to say that I get frustrated with my particular adventure. whether it be that my job is stressing me out, my meds aren’t working, and sometimes I just plain feel like I’ve stalled out.

I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t it, it’s not the end of the line. I am more than I am right now… and yet, it’s hard to remember even that much. I’m 23 and I live with my parents. That feels, yet it’s where my life has led me to.

I’ve been trying to think lately about when people stopped asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. When did I stop thinking about that? When did I resign myself to being a cog in some corporate machine instead of a space ballerina or a Mac n cheese critic? When did I stop dreaming? Over the last few years I’ve been trying to figure out where my passion went, what passion even is and let me just say that those are some of the most difficult answers in the world to come up with.

I’m sure that I’m not the only person in the world in this stage of life right now. That stage where we have just a little bit of save the world left in us that the overlords haven’t managed to crush out of us yet, fighting desperately not to give in. Personally, I feel like every day I get a little bit closer to that. A little bit closer to putting away my pencils and paper, closing that word processor for the last time… I think maybe I was too young, not ready enough to graduate college when I did. Three years was too fast. I feel like I skipped the tutorial and went straight into the game.

It’s like all those heroes that go off a quest and get lured into some kind of faery trap. They get stuck in a paradise and years and centuries pass and they never leave because they don’t realize what’s happening. They’re too comfortable where they’re at and though they know they should be continuing on their quest, they’re still there on Calypso’s island…. or whatever place comes to your mind. By the time the hero escapes, if they don’t die first, it’s either too late or they’ve lost many a year without realizing it, thinking it’s been only a few days or hours.

It’s a terrifying thing to be self aware in that portion of your quest, depression and anxiety don’t help either – they just cloud your judgement throughout the whole ordeal. You’d almost rather the siren had you completely under her spell so that you don’t realize what’s really happening to you… what you are doing to yourself.

I’m starting to fight. I’m indecisive about it, but I’m starting to put together a picture of my life. I’m starting to struggle against the siren’s hold. The call of peace and cushioned comfort.

Part of that is latching onto my faith, and part of it is trying to move forward. Not fighting the siren directly, but pulling away from her. For me that is taking the shape of getting my portfolios together, writing and art. I’m hoping that by January next year I’ll be able to start submitting again to magazines and contests after I’ve had some time to get things together. I’m getting Xanadu together and I’m getting materials ready to put in applications for art school, get a second bachelors, and I’m going to apply for some masters programs while I’m at it, hopefully start in fall of 2020 at the latest. I’m going to try and get further in my writing. I’m starting to formulate what I want my life to look like.

I want to write, that’s an integral part of who I am, always has been. I also want to draw and paint. I want to be an illustrator. I want to illustrate stories for children, teens, young adults, and adults, whatever I write I want to be able to illustrate it and strengthen it with other forms of storytelling. I’m such an unfocused person that I don’t want to do only one thing. I don’t want to settle for one of my interests. I want to meld them and make them work together, enough moving parts and my brain will shut up and just work. That’s the kind of person I am.

I’m taking an online art course right now and I’m looking into local classes and programs as an adult learner. Even if I don’t get a degree in it I think I might benefit from doing some kind of program or class. I’m also looking for a local writing group. It would be nice to get together with other writers and talk shop, get encouragement and help with tricky bits.

The world is a big place and I’m hoping to explore it a little more and maybe brighten it up with a few good stories.

On Humanity

Humans are terribly, terrifyingly, brilliant creatures… and I want almost nothing to do with them.

I love people, the way they get passionate about things. When their eyes light up and they get a little hitch in their breathing because they’re talking so fast they can’t keep up with themselves trying to explain to you why they love whatever it is they’re doing so much, whether it be art or sports, or anything really. I love watching theater kids start talking about the role they play as if it were another person and then they start to lapse into that character’s pattern of speech like it’s a second part of themselves and music kids who start tapping or making the motions of playing their instrument to a beat in their headphones that the rest of the world can’t hear. The way a writer stares off dreamily into nothing that we can see, worlds playing in their head like a movie before their very eyes.

I love to listen to poets speak, every word carefully chosen, even in the heat of the moment as though they had a thesaurus taped to the inside of their contact lenses.

The way a painter describes colors and shape as though they were a blind person seeing life for the first time. They way an architect motions with their hands trying to show you in words and movements the grandness of their ideas.

Have you ever listened to singer breath? Deep breathes to fill their lungs to produce sounds that you and I can only dream of.

The way a sculptors hands might look damaged, dry, and scarred, but you know that even if they crack and bleed they’ll just patch it up and keep going. The way an athlete who loves his sport will fall and skid on his face but get right back up and keep on running.

Humans are beautifully and wonderfully passionate about everything and anything.

People with dogs will do anything to see their four legged friend wagging their tail and happy and healthy. Cat lovers will do the same, anyone who loves their pet, really. We defend our pets like our own offspring.

Our children, though I have none, there is nothing more that I love than seeing the look on a child’s face when they discover their first passion. Whether that be books, dinosaurs, or that weird bug I don’t want anywhere near me or my ear thank you very much. The way a child looks at a dandelion and where an adult sees nothing but a weed they see a beautiful flower that now you have to put in the fancy vase your mother gave you because they picked it for you and you just HAVE to keep it for as long as it stays alive.

I love seeing children learn and read and become little people who can think for themselves.

And yet, I hide from people. Humans are good at picking out the things in the room that are different from them. We’re also good at making ourselves feel like we’re the one thing in the room that doesn’t belong.

Me… I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions. Happiness, passion, even heartache and sadness. I don’t like to laugh in front of people or cry or really do anything. Anger is something I can’t always control, but I don’t like to show emotion. My grandmother is convinced that I’m at least slightly autistic like my little brother, but nothing is proven and until they diagnose me I’m not, I’m just me. 

Part of me is afraid, afraid that one day they might see that I’m different, sense that I don’t feel the same things that they feel, that I don’t feel the things I love most about them and they’ll set me aside, ostracize me because I’m not like them and then I’ll never get to be around and see the things that I love most in this world, emotions and happiness.

I love the way people can be stubborn and determined, extremes of any kind are what make them human. I envy it and I avoid it, because I can’t return it, not the way they want me to. I don’t relate in like mind.

Have you ever googled “how to show emotion” or “how to be passionate”, how about “How to be impulsive?” I’ve searched for these answers and variations of these time and again with never the same answer returned.

It seems that no one can agree… people go to war over their different ideas of the best way to be human.

Some lay awake at night at war with themselves not certain if they were correct today.

Were they too kind, not kind enough? Did they do all that they could do? Should they still be up at their desk burning the midnight oil in a fit of creative passion? Were they wrong to quit that office job to pursue their love of art? Are they wrong to give up their art for a stable job? Should they have a child, should they not, the list goes on, worries and doubts and decisions to make.

Some manage to go through this life with such seeming certainty, never appearing to second guess themselves. While others, and I am often one of these,

And it is all breathtaking and beautiful.