Does creativity mostly stem from darkness?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I’m NOT writing anymore, and wondering why this is the case. When I first started this blog in January, I was writing around 3 – 4 blog posts a week. I simply couldn’t stop. I had so much bottled up inside of me that was flowing out – emotions, rage, guilt, regret, sadness. It was like someone had finally turned the tap on inside of me, and years of built up sewerage was spilling out so I channeled it the best way I knew how – through words. Everyone has their own way of expressing their inner thoughts. Some resort to alcohol, drugs and violence, while some turn to creative pursuits – art, dance, music, photography and writing to name a few. I’ve been wondering though, as I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my once torturous feelings of anxiety, why I don’t feel like writing as much anymore, and if anyone else can relate?

When you think about some of the famous artists and creatives of our time, there is usually a back story of hidden pain and secrets as well. Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Dickens and many others have been documented to have experienced mental health struggles. I can’t help but wonder if in a lot of cases, our most creative works come from a place of sadness and helplessness within? Many of the greatest musicians and song writers have referenced their ‘best sellers’ as having been recorded in some of their darkest times. There seems to be a pretty significant connection between common struggles (depression, anxiety, mood swings, relationship break downs, deaths and so on), where the person works through their feelings via creative expression.

I know for certain that when I’m feeling ‘normal’ – which in my case I would equate with getting through the day with a fairly consistent mood, and not being plagued by frequent periods of anxiety or nervousness, that I don’t particularly feel like writing. In fact I usually have to be experiencing a pretty ‘down’ day to sit down and let the words come pouring out, which is a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand I’m over the moon that my darkness seems to be lifting, but on the other hand I’m sad because I get a lot of enjoyment from writing. What am I meant to write about if I’m feeling normal, or even (dare I say it), happy? That seems like such a silly thing to worry about, I know. I think it’s stemmed from my unhealthy relationship with ‘morbid’ news stories in the media, where for some unknown reason I am drawn to read horrifying stories of murder, kidnapping and tragedies on a regular basis. Of course this is not an uncommon fascination – it has been well documented that as a society these days we are hungry for such stories, and that they both terrify and intrigue us.

I’ll wrap my musings up today with a quote from Jack Beal;

Keep painting your demons. 

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Photo credits – ourcolourdays & ourmoodydays

Choosing yourself: Thoughts on being the most authentic you, every day.

 

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We here it time and time again; ‘be yourself’, ‘don’t follow the crowd’, and ‘think outside of the box’. While this is all well and good, sometimes it can be hard figuring out who our authentic selves really are, from a lifetime of learning to conform to certain behaviours and activities. We go through school in a regimented fashion, each having to learn the same things in the same way, and sit the same exams, even though numerous studies have shown we all learn in different ways. Some people can grasp something from pure theory alone, some need to engage in the practise time and time again to get the hang of it. Some people prefer group learning and team activities, while some people cope better with minimal engagement and more quiet time. We’re told to express ourselves and be original, but at the same time we’re expected to follow societal norms and fit in. No wonder it’s confusing and most of us are completely lost as to our true callings in life!

As someone who has recently resigned from working in a large international company, where regimented procedures and red tape was a constant barrier to creativity, I know first hand how frustrating this can be. How can we come up with unique and exciting ideas when they have to pass through various tiers of management to get approved, and then need to be dulled down so as not to appear ‘risky’ or offend people? Sure there are some benefits to working in a huge company, but in my mind the downfalls greatly outweigh the positives. Small companies have much more freedom when it comes to being creative, acting on sporadic ideas, and being flexible. Yes, they may not have the funds or backing to get them from A to B in a hurry, but I think I’d much prefer having creative input into a position than having to follow guidelines and protocol.

As the great Albert Einstein once said, ‘I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking’, I think we all need to take a leaf out of his book and stop following the crowd. Don’t worry about people judging you – 9 times out of 10 they’re just wishing they had the guts to act on their own dreams. ‘Speak your truth even if your voice shakes’, is another one I like to use because it’s so true. Yes, it’s scary putting yourself out there. You might get criticised, you might make mistakes, you might fail. BUT at least you’re doing something! It’s all trial and error on this journey and we only have the one lifetime to feed our curiosity and most importantly, be our authentic selves 🙂

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Photo credits – mimibaileyny & georgiestclair

When patting yourself on the back is well deserved.

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As you might know I’ve written about facing fears and overcoming anxiety in previous posts… well, today I’ve done just that so excuse me for taking a minute to feel proud as punch. It was a fairly small feat – I completed my first shift at work solo, fresh out of training and naturally worried that something would go wrong. And it did, of course. BUT – I didn’t panic, I handled the situation calmly with poise and professionalism, and that makes me feel bloody fantastic (excuse my language).

In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the drive to work was incredibly dangerous – fallen trees and power lines, broken traffic lights and pelting rain. A few months ago this would have been enough to rattle me so badly I wouldn’t get in a car for days, but I powered through and arrived at work safely. Then the roller door for the hotel garage wasn’t working due to water damage, so I had a line of guests trying to drive out at 6:30am with no way of opening this door. Again, I handled the situation calmly and didn’t work myself into a ball of stress – something that would have left me literally shaking a couple of months ago, at a time when simple tasks like writing an email seemed like a huge obstacle.

After an extremely busy day of phone calls, room cancellations, new bookings and constant enquiries, I’m pretty exhausted but I’m not riddled with anxiety, and for that – I’m happy. Happy with the self-progress I’ve made so far, for facing my fears and for taking each day at a time. Last night I watched a fantastic video by Zoella, a British blogger who bravely describes her experiences in coping with years of panic attacks :

Her description of the physical symptoms of anxiety is incredibly accurate and (I think), easy to understand for loved ones struggling to comprehend what people like myself have gone through. For someone who often struggles with shyness and speaking out loud, having resources like this which break the feelings down into understandable, relatable symptoms is great. I’ve also used my own blog as a tool for managing my feelings and expressing myself, when talking to people is sometimes difficult and hard to articulate.

Hoping you have had a good day and thanks for reading my stories. Here’s a picture of a cute bunny to put a smile on your dial 🙂

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Photo credits – sistergoldenshop & babyanimalstagram

The volcano in my head.

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I’m dead serious – there’s actually a volcano of thoughts erupting all over my head, and I’ve been frantically trying to channel them into a variety of creative outlets for the past few months.

MUST

EXPRESS

MYSELF.

It’s like this burning itch that I’m constantly scratching, uncovering, exposing. Since quitting a job that had become quite toxic to my life in late November, I’ve literally been unravelling all these thoughts and feelings into whatever I can find – writing, art, photography, reading etc … Don’t get me wrong, it’s WONDERFUL. I’m just wondering where the hell I lost my creative self along the way, and what I’ve been doing for the past few years.

As an only child growing up (until the age of 10 when my sister was born), I was pretty lonely. I didn’t have many neighbourhood friends so had to make do with the imaginations in my mind. I would get lost in fantasy books, travelling to incredible lands and often wishing reality was more… well, magical. I essentially learnt how to be alone, something that’s transcended into all avenues in life. Given the choice of a rowdy night out with friends or a quiet night in cooking and reading by candlelight, 9 times out of 10 I’ll choose the solo affair.

I expressed myself (pretty terribly, in hindsight) through a variety of craft-making activities such as mosaics, water colours and beading. For some unknown reason I went through a phase of super-gluing little shells onto items of my clothing. Why didn’t anyone stop me? Well to be honest I’m glad they didn’t – I obviously needed to express myself somehow, and as long as I wasn’t harming anyone then who cares!?

Somewhere along the way I lost all these creative pursuits, until my recent life overhaul. I went through University, share-housing and meaningless jobs without giving much (if any) time to those activities which I knew brought me great joy. Since taking a step back from the corporate grind I’ve used this blog as a form of self expression, letting all my thoughts and feelings pour out. It’s been cathartic to say the least. I’ve taken up my life-long love of reading again, and have been dabbling in a photo journal of my recent travels. While I definitely won’t be taking up the art of gluing shells on my clothes again, I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and seeing the world in vivid colours once more.

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Photo credits – emiliycornelius1 & ratedmodernart