The anxiety to create
It happens when “creative” people like us spend a lot of our time working in what we may consider noncreative fields. When the opportunity comes for us to be free, to drop the worker’s hat outside the car window, we slow down wondering what’s next. The feeling can be freeing yet paralyzing.
It’s the first day off from work in awhile and I’m rattled with anxiety. What do I do to kick off a three-day holiday and extended weekend? How do I fill the space with myself? What should I work on first? What should I complete? Or do I rest? Let my mind run free? Should I vacate my usual to-do list when I have time to do some of what’s on it?
Every morning that I have to get up to go to work (my office job), I lament over having to leave my bed while the sun is rising. This morning, when I can sleep in, I’m wide awake at 5:30?!
What is that about?!
Thankfully, I fell back to sleep about an hour later. And when I woke at 8:00, I felt I could say I was on vacation. But still, the question of how do I create a perfect day was lingering in my sheets. What "should" I do today that will bring me and others joy? How am I to be a good steward of alllllllllll this time “off”? Oh, the burden.
Finally, making my way to the living room, sitting with my cup of coffee, looking out of the window, asking myself these questions one after the other without stumbling across any answer that makes sense, I realized the pressure I put on myself to “create something.” And not just something, but something worthwhile.
It happens when “creative” people like us spend a lot of our time working in what we may consider noncreative fields. When the opportunity comes for us to be free and creative, to drop the worker’s hat outside the car window, we slow down wondering what’s next. The feeling can be so freeing yet paralyzing.
It’s as if this is all the free time we will ever have in our entire life and we wish we had our wishlist ready to see what we want to do now that we have the space and time. But we don’t have our list (well, some of us don’t) and this it’s all the time we will ever have.
There will be days, consecutive days, more vacations and holidays and weekends and sick days (the ones we take we aren’t really sick) to play. And playing is just that. Who says we have to spend all our down time trying to create a masterpiece?!
Goodness, the relief I feel knowing that I don’t have to write my next poetry book over my low maintenance Thanksgiving break (though it would be nice). I don’t have to come up with the next great business idea. I don’t have to have the “aha,” that I wonder if it’s ever coming, THIS WEEK.
Yes, time is precious and we should not waste it on the frivolous (I could spend an hour at a time on Facebook, if I allow myself). But there is also the time to do nothing. (Plus, just because we aren't externally creating doesn't mean our Muse isn't internally creating while we rest!)
Being creative doesn’t mean we always have to be actively creating or thinking about it or planning it or wishing for it. It includes resting, playing, surrendering, creating for the fun of it, messing up, sleeping in, goofing off. It does not have to include self-induced stress over not filling our time creating for the sake of being successful. In a lot of ways, that's contradictory to the creative process and to who we are called to be as artists.
What will I do today and the days that follow? I have no idea. I have no plan. I have no creative self-imposed deadlines. Will I regret that come Monday when I have to be back in the office at 8 a.m.? Maybe. But something tells me that what I need more than more scheduled, orchestrated “to do” lists is time to dance in the middle of the floor while singing off key to a great '80s hit, like Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," or Michael Jackson's "Beat It." And with that folks, I'm hitting the dance floor (i.e., my living room floor) to do the Moon Walk!
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A creative spirit, coach & corporate professional, Jacinta White shares how she merges, what she calls, "the sacred messiness of life" & her love for all things artsy. Follow for tips, prompts, musings & more!