When You Give Up On Quitting

I have felt like a dried up well of creativity for a long time. For so long in fact I started wondering if I was even creative at all anymore. As a child I used to draw all the time. I think I had a natural talent in it but when I finally started going to school and being around kids instead of in my homeschool bubble, I realized there were others who were better than I was so, I quit.

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In high school, I wrote poetry with my best friend in a notebook we shared. Someone found our notebook and made fun of it and I was so embarrassed. Shortly after, my grandma found some of my journaling and said it was ‘depressing’ so, I quit.

College brought to my attention the fact that I wasn’t as good of a student I always thought I had been. I was truly under the impression school was my “thing”. Now I could barely force myself to write a 3 page paper the night before it was due. Yet, there were people winning teacher-led contests for having the most handwritten notes in a semester.

This is not a post about being homeschooled, nor is it about me finally realizing my true talent, and its not really about comparison either. Although, all of those are stories in and of themselves and may found themselves being told another day.

Being homeschooled for a large portion of my education did mean that I didn’t have many to compare myself to. I may have had some unrealistic perceptions of my aptitudes in certain subjects. This is not to say that I didn’t have anyone to push me to learn or try hard. I had some pretty high standards set by my family. Really, I was already falling behind in their eyes. I was supposed to be on track to graduate at least two years early from high school. Unfortunately, I was just one year ahead :/  I was excelling at things that I didn’t even give a damn about to please other people and basically never doing a single thing for my own pleasure. Anytime I would find something that brought me joy and I was “bad” at it, I quit.

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I have spent a whole lot of my life running away from things that feel good and make me happy because I didn’t excel at them immediately. The shame from not being able to measure up to impossibly high standards for “important” things kept me from running ahead in the fun parts. Work first, play later, right?

Well, it’s time for that to freaking change. Because when will later be?

This week I have been making a conscious effort to open my mind and let ideas come. I’m tired of feeling about as shallow as a shower. I want depth! I want creativity and lucid dreaming and brainstorming and collaboration. I want to give ideas freely because it feels good to use my brain and not only when it serves a purpose in the “real world” and can pay the bills.

You know what has happened since I have opened up my mind?

I seem to have bloomed and found my soul.

Tell me; have you kept your creativity hidden? Do you let fear of being “bad” at something keep you from things you really love?

xoxo,
Jess

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31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 16

What is my biggest accomplishment?

Sometimes I think answering this question just comes down to this:

I stayed alive.

You need to know that being alive is a great and terribly difficult thing to do sometimes. And if you have managed to be alive this long, you are a hero. You deserve all the praise in the world. 547e0f548841c9cb610e5a3d

I see you opening your mouth to stop me and give your “buts” and to that I hold my hand up to your face and say, “No, it’s hard. So good job.”

You might get stressed out and snap at people.
You might not pay your bills on time all the time because you forget.
Redbox movies might still be sitting on your coffee table because you don’t like leaving the house.
Plans with friends may have been cancelled because you’d rather sleep or watch Netflix.
You might have had to stop going to college even.
Or you might have left a job and moved in with your parents because you just couldn’t deal.

I see you. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. It feels as though you are the worst living human and you have no business being allowed to be an adult.

BUT…

You ARE alive. And you can’t NOT be an adult. Whatever is an adult anyway beside just someone of legal age? Why are so many things “adult things” and why do they have to make us feel so awful when we don’t get all of them right all the time?

I’m not good with numbers. I will never be good with numbers. But my husband is. And we are both adults. He just does other “adult things” than me. And we are both alive together.

Sometimes I feel like my aliveness is stretched very thin.

But let me tell you something else. To be able to be stretched to the point of breaking, and NOT breaking is a feat of greatness.

You are great because you have found the ability to stay alive.

I have stayed alive because something in me is stronger than the stretching.547e10088841c9cb610e5a43

-Jess


 

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Check out these other amazing ladies that are blogging through the 31 Day Blog Challenge.

Madi – Her Wandering Path
Chelsea – Grace Marked Heart
Charlotte – Inside Charlotte’s Mind
Suzanna – One Hoolie Mama
Brittani – Bringing Life to Truth

If you want to be part of the link up for the 31 Day Blog Challenge just share your link in the comments below. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or if you’re ahead of me. It would be so great to add some more bloggers to the link up. I love reading everyone’s answers to these great challenge questions.

Perfectionism Keeps Picking On Me

Part of the reason why I started blogging again is to try and combat this fierce perfectionism in me. You may think that writing a blog for other people to see would promote perfectionism, but for me it’s not about whether I do it for other people so much as it is doing it at all.

I get an idea of what to write or make and I even think of some killer phrases to put down, but then I’m afraid it wont come out the way I think it. I’m afraid I wont have anything to link my thoughts together. I’m afraid the next thing I write wont make sense with the post I wrote yesterday. I’m afraid that I’ll be doing this whole blogging thing wrong.

The truth is that I’d like to be good at lots of things. Not necessarily perfect at them all, but just to kind of bloom and really “get” it. I want to hand-make things, decorate, look pretty (and explain how I did it), I want to write, I want to sketch…but in my mind I’m just kind of okay at all of these things. A lot of advice I’ve gotten is to just try and be really good at one thing. But I don’t know what my thing is. I’m not entirely sure I want just one thing. But I’m also afraid that it’ll take too long to find it or master it.

Want to know something else? This one is a secret…

Okay, here it goes.

I’m terrified of hard work. I’m sure some of you have said that you don’t want to be bad at something. And I guess that could be part of it. I definitely don’t like being bad at something, but it’s kind of easy to just own the things I don’t excel at and blame myself. I can use those things against myself so easily. It’s kind of like a secret ammunition supply, so this sick and twisted part of me doesn’t mind being bad at things because it just gives me new material to use to be mean to myself.

Maybe that’s the kicker. I know how to be mean to myself. But I’m not as good at being nice to myself.

Image art by Emily McDowell found via BuzzFeed
Image art by Emily McDowell found via BuzzFeed

I have been married for just about 5 months now and have experienced more free time in my schedule than ever before. I only work in the afternoons and mu husband is a full-time student and works in the evenings as well. It’s pretty safe to say that I have the freedom to sleep in basically 5 out of 7 days of the week. He gets up and leaves at about 6:40 every morning and I can either get up with him and start my day or I can go back to sleep and wake up whenever I feel like it. I bet you can guess which one I choose. I set goals for myself to wake up early, take a shower, walk the dog, sweep the kitchen, do some writing, and make myself a lunch to take to work. I would have almost 8 hours of free time before work if I got up with my husband. I bet that sounds pretty amazing to some of you, especially college students and stay at home moms. But instead of getting up and doing the things I want to do to make my life feel productive and flowing, I lay in bed and beat myself up for not getting out of bed.

If I get up it’s going to be cold, then I’ll have to pick out clothes, take a shower, dry my hair, do my makeup, style my hair, make breakfast, take care of two pets, exercise my dog, exercise myself, try not to watch tv, make use of all of the records in the house that I’ve contributed money to purchase, read the many unread books on my shelves, clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, do the dishes, sweep, vacuum…Can you see where this is going? One thing is not enough. Perfectionism for me is all or nothing. Everything is too hard, and yet nothing feels horrible.

Photo and product by Totally Barbaric found via Pinterest
Photo and product by Totally Barbaric found via Pinterest

I know this basically sets me up for failure no matter what, but it really does just happen so quickly that I have a hard time fighting it. Sometimes I do get up and shower, but then I either lay around in my towel and watch TV for hours or I take hours to do my hair and makeup. That’s commitment to avoidance right there. I do NOT like doing hard things. And right now, most things seem hard.

So I want to know, how do you end up convincing yourself to do things you don’t like or things that seem hard?

What motivates you to just do the regular stuff you have to do?

Let me know in the comments!

Why I Took a Break From Writing

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Writing was an enjoyable thing for me, even at a young age. I can remember the first poem I ever wrote was about eagles and foxes. How much more epic can you get, right? I was so proud of myself, and all the adults in my life were so impressed. Ive always been surprised by the fact that people like the things I make, even my weird sketches as a little girl. My family would talk about them like they were amazing, and share them around to their friends. I’ve had something of mine posted on a fridge non-stop since I was 4. The content of my art stayed light for quite awhile and continued to be praised by others until I got older.

In high school I wrote poems mostly. Sometimes I tried to write short stories, but I wanted to put too much of myself in them, and they turned into poems again. I had finally learned the therapeutic effects of writing and began using it to express the deepness I had within me. I wrote about boys for a long time, I wrote about sadness, and rejection, and how much it hurt to be lonely. The more darkness I slipped into my poems, the less praise I received. I eventually turned my writing more inward and my writing fueled my toxic feelings. My writing was all about sadness and anger. It was at a point in life when growing up meant feeling all the feelings and I had no where else to put them but into writing. My family isn’t big on connecting emotionally with each other. Coming from a Christian background, I was taught to take my deep and sometimes scary feelings to Jesus.

When I got to college, that’s what I tried to do. My writing still had a bit of cynicism and sadness, but it was all wrapped up in a nice little bow that looked a lot like faith. It was really more of a moral that I felt like I had to have. I didn’t just write to feel anymore. I wrote to teach and prove. I never just let my mess hang out and be experienced. I always fixed something at the end of each post.

At the end of my sophomore year I was supposed to get married and instead I returned to my small Bible college, junior year, single. I lived a depression deeper than I knew existed. I had so many things to say about it all, things I wanted to clear up, pain that needed to be felt outside of my body…but it was so hard to leave things without an answer. Everyone commented things like “chin up, this is God’s plan!” and “God is just teaching you something! Listen to Him and He will reveal everything to you”. While I know those were all with good intentions, it just sounded like one big “SUCK IT UP” and “Could you hurry up and figure your shit out, because this sounds like a broken record.”

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So I stopped.

I stopped writing. It was a burden.

I didn’t create.

I didn’t journal.

It had been twisted from a gift to myself into proof that I was okay. And I wasn’t.

It felt like I couldn’t make art without there being a purpose. The purpose started out being just to feel better and since that wasn’t happening, I had failed. So I stopped.

What’s changed?

Well, basically everything. I’ve moved from feeling irreparable to having a slightly more realistic view of the deep feelings inside of myself.

I sought help and now have a diagnosis of Depression and Anxiety. I take medication. I see a counselor. It’s great. I recommend counseling for anyone at least once in their life.

I have various support systems that I interact with virtually. I am always tapped in to people that speak truth into my life and encourage me. Women that understand the courage it takes to put yourself out there and how damn hard it can be.

Photo found via Oprah.com

And lastly, I have learned to love myself and do things just for me. I do things just because they make me happy. Being happy is okay. And so is being sad. And if being sad publicly through writing a blog post makes me feel better, I’m gonna do it.

I still struggle with wanting to do it for others. And honestly, it kind of is for others. But it’s still for me. In a new way. My voice is different, and a whole lot less shaky.

So I stopped writing for a while. And I missed documenting some really important things.  I don’t want to go through the rest of life wishing I had written about it.

I’m starting to write…today.

xoxo, Jess