Warning: I’m about to get a little Winona Ryder a la Reality Bites on ya.
The feelings are both useless and useful and worst of all, they are very much real. The mind isn’t idle, and therefore cannot serve as the devil’s playpen. But in the face of life, its discontents and a pile of work, it can easily get diverted into areas less deserving of that attention. Coming back from this most recent trip back home, all those feelings came to a header for me. And geez louise, were they a big waste of time and barrier to getting work done. So after three days of marinating in those topics and trying to figure out how to get out of them, I thought I’d share what they were, and the wise words from creative ladies that are helping me get through it.
In the face of now calling home to multiple cities, there also comes the desire to keep up with all the friendships that have been made, and to be constantly feeling that I had needed to be on the cusp of every next big thing. At the same time, aspiration is a big element of the industry that we’re now engaged in. I wind up with a tendency to feel overwhelmed, sloppy, and a little left behind when I make a re-entry. And I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one with these feelings. Kate over at Wit&Delight discusses the topic in the sphere of mental health so well. It is such a relief to know that other ladies in the business of design and blogging share similar feelings, like a desire to lead life and work with intention and making it a priority to focus on the pace of what is real in the face of the multiple demands that we have created in our lives. These topics are so useful for both work and life and it’s not a bad idea to check in with them every so often.
I’m now a few months into having left my formal employment and deciding to take an alternative route. But I’m still not quite sure who I am. And there’s a part of me that is trying to rush into defining who that is, rather than letting myself explore, fail, and ultimately acknowledge that I am not one thing. On this trip home, I realized that the part of myself that wanted to bring health to the most vulnerable was still there; and that I have a particular agenda to push within that realm. Likewise, I was really excited to join the world of typography and colour theory, lighting and aperture. I’m still trying to figure out what my role is within those two worlds. It will probably take a while. Especially because there’s a lot of learning to be done. I need to be patient with that. And it’s great to know that there are plenty of others who define themselves as hyphenates. One of my favourite stories about change, redefinition and patience comes from Bonnie Tsang (sadly no relation).
Another wonderful stimulant of impatience is illness. I had the luck of returning to Phnom Penh with a nasty head cold that only decided to get worse in this heat (have we mentioned it’s like 45°C every day?). There was no chance in hell (because that’s what these temperatures feel like) that I was going to run a mile, or reach certain deadlines. I knew I needed rest and I had to really force myself to face the fact that I needed to rest, accept the help of others and give my body time to get back up to speed. I know I already try to lead a fairly health conscious lifestyle, but sometimes you need to amp it up. Work and life these days is only getting busier, and your body needs to be in the best shape to combat this. Best part about this advice is that it came from Mindy Kaling.
I remember being 20 years old, lying on the couch in the apartment I shared with five friends, head on my pal’s lap complaining about ennui. Seriously, what dissatisfaction with life could a 20 year old have? Was it that distressing? But it felt that way. And ten years on, the same feelings emerged (and I blame the low-grade fever). I found myself with the same feelings, complemented with a fear that I was merely just reproducing other people’s work and not producing anything original. These were great ingredients to continue down the rabbit hole of dissatisfaction. Fortunately I found a way out of it. Everyone has their own way out of the funk. For me it was just a click away. I love getting lost in a new resource of aspiration and inspiration. I’m not looking to replicate, but I’m definitely looking to get my eyes opened again. And strangely enough it comes through my ears. This spring mix from Cereal Magazine is exactly what I needed to get through my mini winter of discontent. I’m especially a fan of Mark Johns’ take on HOVA and Kanye’s In Paris.
And in short, that is what is making me happy today.