10 days in

So I’ve been off of social media for 10 days. I suppose I should say ‘social media’ loosely because here I am posting on a blog, which is technically an aspect of social media, but all in all my biggest time-sink I was aiming to step away from was Facebook, and I haven’t touched it. Nary a drop o’ the ol’ status updating moonshine over here!

How’s it been?

Well… honestly I had this fantastical idea of how I thought this process was going to go.

I like, pictured myself running through daisy fields in slow motion with all of my Facebook friends in tow, eating a picnic lunch and taking an afternoon ride on a herd of unicorns or something. I saw myself feeling free, untethered, reconnected to the world, enjoying being a person and interacting with other people, making more plans, going on fun dates with Todd, getting big projects I’ve been procrastinating on accomplished, getting really organized about my businesses and making new artwork in time for the holidays, getting more high quality rest and cooking more meals.

In hindsight I realize this was kind of a lot of expectation to pile on myself for a 30-day span right before Christmas.

Cut to me having numerous crying fits feeling completely isolated, overwhelmed, realizing I’m just finding other ways to procrastinate on my big projects instead of finishing them, some days not leaving my apartment at all or even getting dressed, feeling all of the same stress and confusion about my life that I felt before, now with the added frantic feeling of being cut off from something that gave me some solace in not feeling alone, in feeling liked, and feeling like I was helping other people by being myself.

I am hoping that this is just a parallel of someone who’s recovering from heroin having sweats and puking everywhere and hallucinating when they first quit. Perhaps I’m just feeling withdrawal and the clouds will part? I hope?

But even in the discomfort, there’s some learning happening.

Huge example: I have avoided making new artwork like the plague.

My initial reaction to this is loaded with shouldshit and guilt. I should be making a calendar in time for Christmas. I should have made at least 8 holiday themed pieces in a series to make cards from. I should finish Marie Antoinette. Should should should.

But do I actually want to do these things right now? No.

And who’s business is this? Mine.

So who has the right to be barking down my neck about shoulds? Um…nobody. Not even me.

This is helping me figure out what I actually enjoy vs what I’m good at, and is illuminating things about why I really like having my own business and what aspects of it and what skills I have are the easiest and most enjoyable for me, while also being helpful (hint: writing, writing, planning and brainstorming,…Oh, writing, designing, helping other people, oh and did I mention this one? Um, writing.)

Case in point: It took me about one week of a few hours a day to write a 70 page ebook with zero need to ‘pump myself up’ to feel inspired to do it. It took me a year of procrastinating and about two weeks of hand-cramping lightspeed drawing to illustrate a children’s book, along with metric tons of guilt, feelings of hopelessness and constant avoidance of sitting down and doing it. Oh and why isn’t my ebook remotely done yet? Because I’m planning to illustrate it, and I’ve gotten through about one page worth before feeling like I need to cry/eat candy/do chores instead because it feels that daunting.

This helps illustrate the point – just because you’re good at something does not mean you need to feel obligated to do it at any level beyond what you want. If I never picked up a pencil again, that’d be sad. But if my job suddenly became a professional full-time illustrator, I would feel the need to be on many medications and possibly flee the country and change my name. Hm. Insight.

As for other side effects of this hiatus, I’ve slept more, so I suppose that’s one thing. But I’ve felt so burnt out that it’s felt necessary and still fairly unrestful rather than luxurious and deserved. I have impulsively typed ‘f’ and ‘enter’ to go to facebook in my browser and been like “oh wait….” and felt that sinking feeling you’d get if you woke up thinking it was Saturday when you were scheduled to go meet Ellen Degeneres and it was really Tuesday and you had to go have a colonoscopy. And then go get your license renewed. And then have to substitute teach 7th grade history.

On the bright side of things, Todd and I went into Cambridge and had an amazing meal and saw the most impressive, amazing musical talent I have ever witnessed hands down at a jazz club last night, and that really lifted my spirits and inspired me. I bought a stuffed animal pig at an adorable restaurant that had a gift shop. I want more of that, please.

I’m just frustrated. This was supposed to feel good, but I’m realizing that even in the act of disconnecting and attempting to give myself permission to ‘relax’, I placed crazy expectations on myself that destined me for failure. So rather than being able to see the positive things that have been happening and let myself settle into this temporary respite, I’ve just seen the ‘why haven’t I done this yet?’s and the ‘I should be doing that’s.

Should.

Should is disgusting and I want it out of my vocabulary.

I hear the ticking clock of ‘you only have 20 more days and you’ve barely done anything you were hoping to do with this time. Not only can you not get your stuff together on a normal day, but now you can’t even do it when you have a support group and you’ve stopped distracting yourself with pictures of guinea pigs in sombreros 80 times a day. And you’re probably losing a lot of potential holiday customers in the process by not managing your Facebook page at a crucial time of year. You said this would be worth that sacrifice, Lesley. Why aren’t you taking advantage of this?’ That’s my super critical inner boss talking. She’s a mega bitch and makes me feel like I am destined for imperfection and disappointment forever. I wanna kick her in the face.

So that is my update, as kinda craptastic as it is. It’s temporary. I’ve done a lot of nothingness over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, while still managing to be somewhat productive too, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to brush myself off and start tomorrow with a more optimistic outlook about my remaining 20 days of social media outer space, and like I said, I am also learning some important things I don’t think I could have learned before!

Also… I am totally gonna get back in my kitchen and bake¬†the best gluten free cake I have ever eaten and could imagine ever eating in the future. With chocolate buttercream frosting. And there’s an upside — after eating nonstop and consuming various cheesy/gravy-coated/sugary things over the past week and worrying about the future of my modeling career if I continue down that path, I somehow have lost a pound. At least my metabolism is being productive this month.

Comments

  1. katie says:

    Don’t worry! I would still buy a 2013 calendar even if it not released until July! It would probably take me that long to notice the lack oifva calendar. Although I do profoundly less with my life than you seem to, its still somehow equally chaotic in my head. I struggle to disregard creative ideas and want to nurture every single one! My head says “Quick do it now otherwise the world will end!”, then I preceed to get the guineas out to stretch their legs and spend the next hour chasing them round the coffee table. Thats productive?! Should is definitely evil.

    • Lesley says:

      Ooh Katie you and I are definitely alike! And that is sweet of you to say about the calendar haha. I have all these great ideas but they sadly seem to remain just ideas for the longest time before I actually take action on them. I feel like my blog post made it sound like I totally hate drawing/making new art, which isn’t really the case. It’s just easy for me to feel burnt out rather quickly from it, whereas some people just love to sit and paint all day everyday. Hopefully the calendar will be born sometime!

      And I TOTALLY understand when you say you want to nurture every creative idea. Story of my life! I have unused soapmaking supplies waiting for a rainy day when I feel inspired; a nice camera I’m meaning to really learn how to use, yarn, sewing supplies, drafts of books, lists of art ideas, wobbly pottery… I totally feel that impulsive “must do this now or the world will end” feeling.

  2. Coral says:

    Oh Lesley – I hear you. SHOULD. ick. yuck, grrr.

    I get two weeks off from my day job at Christmas every year. And every year I make a to do list a mile long. Then spend the two weeks trying to fit in all the ‘fun’. Even having a DVD day is a rush, trying to fit them all in. It just feels frantic and rushed and no fun at all. And of course, the guilts of I should be accomplishing X, Y and Z and realizing I haven’t done it the first week, meaning the second week feels like the clock ticking down to armageddon. Hmmm. Not really the kind of relaxing, blissful holiday I pictured.

    And don’t even talk to me about ‘should’ in my art room. If I do artwork because I have to or because I have officially dedicated this time to art – you can better your dollar, I’ll hate everything I make – throwing it in the bin and cursing the waste of paper and inks and time. I’m determined to just let things flow this year. Que Serra Serra – What ever will be, will be. If I feel arty – lets get inky. If I feel lazy – pop a DVD on. If I feel businessy – Finish that book. But my Christmas is not going to have any Should’s or Have To’s. That’s my present to myself this year.

    Hugs to you Possum – Coral.

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