It feels like the last five years of my life simply flew by. I quit my long-time career path of nannying, got married, moved a couple times, went across the ocean a few times, went back to school and am now….quite suddenly…graduating into some quiet. I’m not always comfortable with silence…no that is an understatement…I can hardly bare silence. When all is peeled away, what are we left with? Ourselves, mostly. And THAT, usually terrifies me.
We live in a culture of “next”. I remember having barely been married before many (not all) but many people in my life started asking me about buying a house or having children. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing to other people, yet now, having recently graduated with my graphic design degree…I feel that pressure once again. What is next? Where will I work? If I’m going to be self employed…then I better get noticed! Get to tweeting! Get to networking! Just GET BUSY, (poor phrase choice perhaps)…but really, that’s how it feels in the quiet. So painfully aware of what everyone else is doing and all the ways I simply walk like I’m in mud professionally. The feeling that you move and move yet never truly arrive anywhere. Additionally, when you do accomplish something….there the “next” monster is…just waiting to devour you.
I often ponder this question (it drives me crazy in fact) “If I make something cool…but nobody sees it…did I still make it?” It’s a ridiculous question really, as if going to Paris never really happened unless you got to share your photos on Facebook. However, it does feel that way these days doesn’t it? What would happen if I just took a gorgeous photo and placed it in my journal as a keepsake. Just mine, nobody else’s. I don’t know about you but the thought of doing something like that feels foreign. When I was 23 years old, I did not own a cell phone. I had no laptop. I checked my email at the library once or twice a week. I got the news by reading my parents newspapers (if I was in a “caring about the news” stage) and I wrote a lot of letters to friends and family. I had no idea what anyone was doing professionally unless I called and asked or read about it in Time (or let’s face it, Real Simple, more likely).
These days, I know what most successful creatives in my field are doing, pretty much globally. It thrills me to no end but also leaves me wishing I was better, more organized or simply had more guts and glory. When it’s quiet? All these thoughts flood my brain even more. Perhaps what I’m actually describing is cyber jealousy, burn out, or just an over stimulated brain. I do see the irony in the fact I’m blogging about it though.
As I laid in bed awake last night, thinking about all the amazing things I’d looked at on Behance, Facebook, the Kinfolk website, Once Wed…the ideas I trolled through on Twitter, the beautiful things I’d “pinned” before bed…I suddenly realized something: I need a slow summer. One that just simmers and gently rolls along. I need to be myself, create things that I like and just leave it there…rather than compare it to what other people are doing. I need to share things I’m working on and not check to see if it’s being appreciated with “likes” and “retweets”…being inevitably disappointed while it lays stagnant in the endless stream of creative noise.
A slow summer. A summer where 6pm feels like it just HAS to be 9pm, but you are overjoyed to discover the opposite! That your truly amazing day didn’t sneak past you in a hurry but rather tip toed along in the grace that contentment offers. I know I’m describing a luxury. I’m also aware that anyone who knows me is used to me grappling with this idea. Yet it would seem I have to grasp at it every morning or risk jealousy, stress and anxiety in the wake of our very fast paced world.
So the question remains. If I make something cool today, but nobody sees it but me, did I really make it? You bet I did. Hold me to it.