rainbow in post storm skies

Creative dreams, busy-ness of living life & burnout

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Today’s blog entry is prompted by the build up of my pent up dreams and so far, the inability to 100% execute those visions or make them come true. It’s not a creative block. Certainly not. I’ve actually been feeling more creative over the past year, and am bursting internally with ideas.

Instead, the issue I am running into is this inability to start creating mainly because I attribute it to a lack of time, or that I am too tired or low energy to get into creating my vision. There are definitely aspects of perfectionism tied in here, but more than anything I think my paralysis has to do with this being new and unfamiliar territory. Specifically, choosing to prioritize myself, my dreams, my desires over all else itself IS the unfamiliar territory.

Thoughtful Wanders as a blog has stuck around longer than any of my previous blog attempts. It’s been around for around 6 months at this point. Before, I had another blog that was active for around the same amount of time but with less content. And before that, it was on and off blogging and making art so there is no sense of consistency to the external world.

colorful flowers in someone's backyard
colorful flowers amidst greener

But internally, and within my own knowledge, I’ve been writing and making art pretty consistently since I was a kid. It did take for me until this year to finally realize the importance of creativity to my life and how I not only want it to be a core part of my life and career, but that I think I actually need it to be central to my life.

I’ve been bursting at the seams of ideas for as long as I can remember now, but have gotten so used to not giving it an outlet. I’ve made a habit out of keeping it bottled in, protecting my creative dreams, keeping it inside my brain and my heart. Not giving it any space to breathe beyond what is capable inside my already overactive brain. It doesn’t help that when I do make things, my first reaction is of disappointment. Sure, because there is a gap between what I create and what I am envisioning, but disappointment because I know I don’t have the time to make all the other things that are in my head.

The suffocation of my ideas is not because of thinking my ideas are not good enough. I actually think I have great ideas, and I am in love with them. It’s been the busyness of the life that I’ve been living. With working a full-time day job combined with chores and keeping up a social life, and wanting to have SOME chill time (e.g. consuming content), I have barely any other time or energy to do much else.

The pandemic helped to an extent because there was less of the socializing and more of the staying at home. But now post-vaccination and the world is opening up (though it also looks like it could be closing down again), social and travel life is more similar to pre-pandemic times than ever. I’ve spent recent months traveling pretty frequently and doing “fun” things with friends. There has been no time to dig into my projects, specifically Thoughtful Wanders, and so idea after idea has been building up in my head and my heart. My iCloud notes are overflowing with ideas I may never return to or glance at, or by the time I glance at it, I would have evolved into a slightly different person and no longer resonate with these ideas.

image of an American hotel buffet breakfast with scrambled eggs, a sausage, a cup of sugared strawberries and a cup of cranberry juice
I love a mediocre American hotel breakfast buffet. The combination of powdered scrambled eggs and sausages is just *chef’s kiss*

So this is where I get to the burn out part. I don’t think this is the most I’ve burned out, because it’s helped that my day job has become more manageable in recent months and I have a bit more room to breathe. But it still gets busy, and then at the end of the work day, I ask myself, why oh why do I need to do all of this just to earn money just to survive? You know and I know it is the capitalistic system we live in and this is the cold reality for most of people in the world, and I am already in a very Global North privileged situation. But also because I am in a Global North privileged person, I feel an urge to do work that has more meaning to me because, actually I can. I have this privilege that was not afforded to my parents or any of my ancestors. I understand the social and inner workings of the working world of the U S of A and have come to follow so many inspiring and socially conscious small businesses and artists that make me believe that I can do that too.

This is a bit of a tangent, but I actually want to work as long as I can in my life. The thought of work exhilarates me. I want to be creating useful things that others can purchase (for an affordable price, forever and always) and exchange services and products. I mean the act of making something and selling/trading it is nothing new and not exclusive to capitalism and the state of our current world. I agree with the Marxist lens that there is something fundamentally fulfilling about labor and work, and that everyone should still engage in labor but you know, also be compensated fairly while not have big wealth discrepancies in society.

And because of this urge to keep working for as long as I can, I want to be doing something meaningful to me. I’d rather forgo the day job working for a corporation with a mission and goal that I can technically perform excitement for, but at the end of the day, is not really personally relevant. Also, corporations see their workers as replaceable and could be let go anytime. Why should I grow a more meaningful attachment to such an institution if it is not returned?

sunflower fields in a lot of greenery
Sunflower fields

My creative dreams are also the same dreams where I am working and enacting labor doing something that I find meaningful. I already basically know what it is but will not quite explain what that is here. But how does one pursue those creative dreams while still in the corporate day job that is helping them survive? How does one pursue them if there is also life to live, places to see, people to be with, chores to do, food to cook, shows to watch, books to read? I don’t know, ahh… And that’s why I am writing it here.

I do find myself in a situation that not many of my friends are in, and I don’t think any of them feel the exact same urge I feel towards my dreams and vision (which make sense, because it’s my vision for the life I want to live). The situation I’m in also isn’t something that I can just Google or look up on Reddit for advice. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Most online “advice” I come across is to tell you to relax more, work less, indulge in your hobbies if you’ve got the money from a stable job and the free time. And if you’re interested in side hustling and eventually taking the hustle full-time, the narrative on the internet is only about how you can make the absolute most money from it (screams clickbait and exploitation tbh). Then you’ve got the generic content about chasing your dreams and pursuing your passions, as well as the opposite stating passions are overrated.

strawberry custard tart
Strawberry custard tart

I’m not finding content that is providing advice for those in my situation. Where we’ve got a stable job that provides money and free time. But we’ve also got dreams we want to pursue, but it’s also not quite a passion, because it’s not one specific thing? The interest is also not to maximize profit, but rather do meaningful long-term self sustaining work that benefits others too. The creative ideas keep coming and there is not a creative block, but at the same time the limit in time and energy IS the hurdle. There is also some perfectionism and wanting to take action more, but we come back to the limitation of time and energy as the reason for unable to take action. What is the balance for prioritizing these dreams vs. a stable job vs. up keeping a social life vs. time for rest and relaxation? What does one sacrifice and compromise?

double rainbow Orlando post-rain
Double rainbow if you look closely. Captured at Disneyworld Magic Kingdom in August 2021 after an afternoon shower

Ok. I know there is not one answer. I just wish there was some top rated advice I can go to, read, and be like AHA! Yep, that is how I am going to live life from now on. I know, that’s not possible and even if it ever feels like a blog can answer all these life questions, it’s better to re-consider if it REALLY is answering those life questions.

At the end of the day, I just need to take accountability and responsibility over all of this and figure out what works best for me. Not what works best for others, or for my friends, but what works for me. It’s about unlearning the habit of suffocating out my creative ideas and what are some ways I can prioritize it, give it oxygen, and develop it into something and not burn out with other life things. I’ve got to “grow up”, which in this context, my definition of “growing up” is really just taking ownership and control over what is something that is up to me to figure out. There is no one telling me what to do anymore, and I don’t believe in the upkeep of social norms, so what left is there to guide me but my inner compass?

This blog post was really just an exercise for me to get it all out. This pent up frustration and resentment directed towards myself for not creating enough in the last year. But also recognizing that I’ve created more than I have in my early adult years! It’s me finally recognizing how much of a time suck doing all the things you’re supposed to do took. All those years in school, then college, the study abroads, the internships, the chores, the paying off student loans, the making side income by tutoring kids, the travel on the limited vacation time, the visiting family because you really should, the socializing in your twenties because you also “should”…the list goes on and on about living by the shoulds. My resentment is not directed at me now, but at the fact that so many of us live life just going through the motions. I look back and wish I gave myself more time to just BE, to play, to get to know my inner world better.

pink purple flowers
More flowers

I couldn’t help but feel that I was living life just distracting myself from myself constantly. And my current day fear is that I continue to live life that way. I feel a strong urge to not let that happen again, to not let myself live distractedly and only do things that I really want to do. I can say all the cliche stuff like “because there is only so much time in this world!” or “life is short!” it’s that yes, and also if I don’t want to do it, and would be feeling tired and unhappy while I am do am doing it away, then it serves nobody to be doing it. I’m not serving myself and I am not serving others too if I am in their presence and would ideally like to show up as a self I am proud of.

On the other hand of resentment, I do feel incredibly lucky. I’ve found something that brings me so much satisfaction and fulfillment while also being unpredictable and fun. What is it exactly? It’s something along the lines of turning my inner world into something tangible or shareable. It’s the work of getting to know my inner world and communicating it to the outside world. This experience is something I want want to keep doing for the rest of my life. I just know it? I mean it’s something that immediately brings me into a state of joy, wonder, curiosity, and openness, so of course I want to keep manifesting it. I know it’s a vague concept, and not a tangible passion that I can talk about like “I love farming and I want to be farming forever!” I don’t feel something for any in real life thing (yet), but I can say that I am in love with this process of self-discovery and self-creating. Writing this blog post was an exercise in translating my inner world to something outside of me. This was fun and therapeutic.

So… what am I going to do??! I’m still figuring it out. But my number one answer is to combat the burn out first, and then become more selective with my time and priorities. I’m going to have to figure out a balance that works for me and know that even as fascinated as I am by the outer world, I am going have to do some further prioritization and cutting things out. The unlearning of the habit of going out on adventures and trying new thing is going to be tough. Because yes, I want to be out and about experiencing things or seeing the people I love, but I also cannot neglect the inner world I have that is dying to have more time and attention dedicated to it. It’s also about finding a better balance for consuming content whether it be to be inspired or to learn or to just relax, with creating content.

The act of writing this post made it clear to me that I need to reprioritize and that realistically, I cannot be interested and up to date with “a little bit of everything”. I am human. There is only so much one human can handle. And I am unwilling to compromise by sleeping less to do everything I want to do, so… onwards it is! With reprioritization and learning to neglect my inner world’s desire for self expression.

Here goes!

Thank you for reading, you, yes you, on the other side of the screen. If you are reading this some time far into the future and you noticed that I have not been posting (and therefore neglecting my inner world), please feel free to comment or send along an email to gently scold me! I probably deserve it at that point.

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