Am I Doing Enough?

By RACHEL BOLTON

Am I doing enough?

Or rather, am I doing enough art? I use the term art loosely here. Art is music, drawing and painting, singing, acting, and writing. All of the activities that come from creativity.  Despite how busy I (think I) am these days, I feel that I’m not producing enough art.

For 2017, my resolution was to write more. And so far, I have. I’ve had several articles published, I’m almost done with the novel length fan fic that I’ve been working on for the past year, I’ve submitted my short stories around, and I’ve been writing consistently on several projects.

This isn’t me trying to brag about my accomplishments. I do believe I deserve to pat myself on the back a little for what I’ve done. My self-doubt needs to be reminded that I am working hard.

What’s the origin of my feelings of inadequacy? Is it Imposter Syndrome? Maybe a little. But the feeling isn’t so much that I don’t deserve my accomplishments. It’s more like I believe I should have more of them. 

I have a form of anxiety, and as my fellow anxiety havers can attest, the illness is pretty talented at lying to you. Anxiety can tell you that you aren’t good enough.  My anxiety can turn into a crippling form of self-doubt, especially when it comes to my writing.

I am terrible at taking breaks. I gave myself carpal tunnel during my first National Novel Writing Month from repeated hitting of the backspace button. During another year’s NaNoWriMo, I worked and worked until I was a human-shaped ball of stress. I didn’t stop and take care of my stress. Instead I told myself to keep working, and I nearly gave myself a major panic attack. It wasn’t until I was staring at my laptop, completely unable to type that I stopped working. There are other less intense instances of browbeating myself into doing non-stop work.

For all those demands on myself, a part of my brain thinks that I should have more to show for it. Worst of all, there is the little critic in my head that says I don’t deserve a break. Sitting and playing a video game for an hour to decompress shouldn’t be a bad thing.

Recently, I’ve been reaching out to my fellow creative types to hear what they had to say about the feelings that I’ve termed “Not Enough”. It was so validating to get evidence that I was not alone. I spoke to a few of my fellow contributors at Rose Water to listen to their stories.

What Rosewater writer Alex Creece said stuck out to me. She said, “we stifle our own imaginative and creative endeavors by holding ourselves up to prescriptive standards of what we think creative success ~should~ look like. Rather than creating for its own sake, we become fixated on creating in order to achieve a very particular end product or achievement.”

theauthorsdesk

The author’s desk. Note the list of projects to be worked on.

I think everyone is guilty of wanting to have the same success as a person you believe is more successful than you. But I think we forget that we see others’ lives through what they post on social media. We are looking at them through rose colored glasses. Not many people are going to post about their personal struggles online. Unless you are writing an article about your personal struggles, like me.

In the past few weeks I’ve been feeling better about my writing and habits. I tell myself that if I’m doing at least one creative thing a day, whether that’s writing, crocheting, or playing my ukulele, I am doing enough. I’ll even write little supportive messages to myself on the dry erase board next to my desk. Life gets busy, and we all can’t dedicate the majority of our day to our passions. We should be proud of any time that we do get to use for them.

What could you do when you start feeling inadequate or overworked? If you think you need a break, you probably do. You could take a deep breath, and do something new. Here are a few activities I did to get out of my funk. You might want to give them a try.

Paint your nails a funky color.

Get another tattoo.

Drunkenly watch Batman cartoons with your roommates and laugh. 

Walk in the sunshine to the library.

Eat ice cream with your significant other and talk about the plot holes in Harry Potter.

Drink tea with the cat in your lap.

Call your mother.

Call your father.

Share stupid memes with your friends.

Crochet a scarf and watch Netflix.

Reread old drafts for new ideas.

Sit and breathe.

Breathe.

Learn some new coping skills.

Get ready to start over.

You can do this.

I believe in you.

 

 

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