For some reason, I’m feeling more creative lately. The feeling started in late November. I picked myself up and started writing 750 words a day. As I write this now, it’s 12 days into this month and I’ve written every day.
This happens to me. I go through cycles. Cycles of feeling energized and creative followed by cycles of feeling exhausted and unmotivated. In 2019, I went through an entire year of burnout 😮
I understand this to be normal. Even though most of the resources online are trying to tell us to “optimize our productivity” and hack our way to our most creative self, we are human. Our biology makes us much closer to a tree, that sheds its leaves in winter and flowers in the summer, than a robot with pre-programmed consistency.
But I am trying to better understand my personal cycles.
Do I always feel more creative toward the end of the year? Or did it happen this year because I was sick for most of November, and once I started feeling better, I got a jolt of energy? What does it mean to feel incredibly sluggish on Mondays and Tuesdays, but finally get into the flow the rest of the week, Saturday included?
I don’t have any answers yet. But writing every day allows me to keep track, albeit in a somewhat ad-hoc, informal sense. Maybe I’ll turn this year’s cycle into a graph!
One thing that has helped me to feel more inspired, is letting go of all the “shoulds.”
I’ve spent a lot of time this year, and admittedly my whole life, feeling like I should be doing things differently. I should donate more of my time. I should redesign my personal website so that it looks more like some other person’s website. I should enjoy coding more, and do it outside of work. I should be better at posting to Instagram (such a weird thing to think about). Etc, etc, etc.
But in recent months, I’ve realized that there are no rules. There is no path. With this understanding, all of the shoulds melt away. The more I listen to—and act on—my intuition, the more things fall into place.
Here are some things I’ve been accepting:
* My career isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. I want to be a designer/programmer/artist/activist. This likely means that there isn’t a blueprint for me to follow, or a clear example of someone else who has built a similar “portfolio” career. That’s ok, I can be the very first! And perhaps make the journey a little easier for someone who wants to follow in my footsteps. (Side note: If you do know of someone with a career like this, send them my way, please!)
* Similarly, most of the usual ‘how to run an online business’ advice isn’t going to work for me. I’m not sure I’ll ever be someone who schedules my social media posts or follows a consistent content calendar. I write what feels right and post it when it feels right. I might add a bunch of blog posts in a flurry instead of spacing them out. I never know what I’m going to write about in this newsletter until I’m sitting down actually writing it. That doesn’t mean I’m not being thoughtful, it just means I prefer a little bit of spontenaity when it comes to connecting with y’all!
* My website is simple and that’s ok. It feels like ‘me’ and that’s what matters.
* My body. Just as it is right now.
* I don’t have the bandwidth to volunteer right now, and that’s ok. I am reminded of this quote from Oliver Burkeman’s last column: the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life:
If you’re prone to thinking you should be helping more, that’s probably a sign that you could afford to direct more energy to your idiosyncratic ambitions and enthusiasms.
Those are just a few things that I’ve begun to accept in life. If I thought about it longer, I’m sure I could think of many more. But in an effort to keep this newsletter short, I’ll lead into the list of weird recommendations and things I consumed this week!
Things I consumed & recommend this week:
A McDonald’s Big Mac. In the spirit of full transparency, I eat fast food at least once a week and don’t feel guilty about it. I understand all the arguments about it being unhealthy and I wholly disagree with factory farming and the mistreatment of animals, but I’m only human, existing in a complex world in a difficult year. It made me think of this tweet:
I’ve started to think about these things as a systemic failure rather than a personal, moral one. Instead of shaming individuals for eating food that is convenient and cheap, how can we collectively push for corporations to do what’s right?
Making mesh gradients with this free web app. I had a lot of fun with this! Could be a neat way to make backgrounds for your Instagram posts?
Creating a grocery store checklist in Notion. My partner AJ and I dislike grocery shopping and meal planning so we decide to make it easier with a system. I used this template as a guide.
Thinking about participating in Kickstarter’s January Make 100 project. What would you make 100 of??
Funny post-covid daydreams on Twitter