14 Apr 2022

Putting Yourself Out There

I am coming out of a creative block after spending a very strange month. Not only have I been out of my comfort zone for most of it, but I also felt the least productive I’ve felt in a while. I felt useless. Not “useless” in a hopeless kind of way, but more in the “what am I supposed to do with my free time?” kind of way. Let me explain.

First of all, I left my job in late March in what I would consider an emotional departure. My teammates and I were close, so I couldn’t be super objective about the best way to say goodbye or how to be useful on my last days. Other than the known meetings and rituals, I blanked for most of it.

After that, I had a couple of weeks of vacation, most of which I spent visiting family I hadn’t seen in years. I blanked for most of it, except I tried to lower my guard a bit. This guard was difficult to piece together but it all put an emphasis on a troublesome truth: I defined myself around productivity. This is a truth that I suspected before and wasn’t ready to confront.

The past few years I’ve inequivocally defined my “happiness” around my career. The problem with this (other than the obvious) is that this narrowed down my world-view. Any excitement or plan for the future was shaped around growing professionally. Everything else was a distraction. This limited my entertainment choices to TV, dinners and video games. Even in the context of having a few weeks off, I still asked myself “okay, but at time during the day can I work on one of my projects?.”

My guard eventually did come down. Not because I wanted to, but because it had to. The unfamiliar places combined with estranged family gave me the sense of adventure that I didn’t know I need. Everything felt alien, but with the right amount of comfort. I had no choice but to go with the flow.

Being relaxed both physically and mentally made me more likely to want to go back to feeling that way. This meant I cared less about the unknown, as I realized I had no control over it. And the more that I realized the unknown had no power over me, the more I started to seek it.