Quarantine and Creativity

Hey. Just checking in. The world feels like it’s ending.

For a lot of people it is – for those privileged and lucky enough not to have lost someone to COVID-19 the biggest obstacle seems to be keeping ourselves healthy but also sane. How do you stay productive in an environment that is so tumultuous and unpredictable? When you’re cooped up inside and all you want to do is scream. Us human beings are innately bad at being told we can’t do something… suddenly that is all we want to do. Going to a coffee shop or restaurant or shopping, fishing with the bro’s or drinking with friends. Now we can’t live without those activities.

And for so many of us it is debilitating. I didn’t realize how much my productivity suffered while being unable to leave my apartment and go hole up in a coffee shop for 8 hours, immersed in a room full of other hunch-back individuals enjoying their Adderall and caffeine high. I was getting a good dose of social interaction for the day, but also getting a fair amount of work done for the price of $5.95 (medium iced-vanilla latte).

It’s a mindset thing, I think. To make isolation even more difficult, my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January and my entire family counted on the small distractions of a TJ-Max trip or restaurant sit-down to take our minds off of the horrific, pressing news of a loved one carrying an illness so grave. And it was important for my brother to have an excuse to leave the house and enjoy life as much as he’s able to between flying to California for chemo treatments and meeting with his team of doctors to discuss the best plan to restore his limited eyesight.

Perspective has taught me so much the last few months. As preachy as it sounds, everyone has a choice to view a bad situation with negativity or positivity, and while I started quarantine unable to function much past eating and sleeping, I realized it was an opportunity for me to take advantage of the activities I haven’t been able to do. I’ve neglected writing and allowing myself the space to be creative and feel fulfilled. I looked at my fiancĂ© a few weeks ago and was upset at the prospect of facing 25 in two years with plenty of accomplishments under my belt, but no creative milestones met. He responded by asking me what I was going to do to change that. A week later I had a brand new Canon EOS Rebel SL3 sitting in front of me, a glossy microphone and memory card, and a heck-ton of drive. I finished filming, editing and uploading my very first YouTube video yesterday to a channel that I’ve tried to grow over the years, but always gave up on. It’s been a goal of mine for the past 6 months to try my hand at filming and editing again, but I’ve put it off and told myself that I’d be ridiculed and ostracized for putting myself out there. I… told myself everything I could to NOT film even though my passion has always been writing and editing. I never made the time before but I have no excuse now.

Quarantine has made me realize a lot about myself. My desire to film and edit videos, to be a published children’s book author by 25, to continue to work in the small business that I work in now, pushing myself as hard as I can and not ignoring the creative flame that flickers away inside of me, demanding to grow. It’s taught me I do have time for these things – I always have – but that I make plans to go out shopping and running errands and procrastinating in society, basically. Which is okay sometimes but did I need to spend so much time getting my nails done religiously when drafting a manuscript was a better use of my time all along?

There is a tweet or something floating around out there that basically says you shouldn’t shame anyone for not spending their quarantine in a productive way. I agree with this. But also don’t spend your quarantine thinking you can’t accomplish exactly what you put your mind to. This time is scary and it’s so unfortunate, but you can make wonderful things for yourself. New recipes, exercises, books you can read, and so many other milestones are waiting to be reached.

I guess I’m just encouraging you right now to do it!! Whatever “it” might be. I know. Trust me – it’s scary. Coming face to face with your muse and creativity is terrifying. But so is never knowing if you could have accomplished your desires and goals.

Write on a piece of paper what makes you happy. If you could be successful at anything in the world right now with no effort, what would it be? Write that down. Now go and get it because you and I both know that you can.

You’ll never know if you don’t try. x

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