last week i wrote about creative blocks, aka the thoughts and behaviors that prevent us from doing the work that matters most.
today i’m writing to you with the most honest and vulnerable newsletter i think i’ve ever written. what follows are the words i wish i could have read when i was much younger and struggling to fully commit to my creative practice.
i started working through my creative blocks in 2019, the first time i read the artist’s way. during the 12 week guided program, i named my dream of becoming a successful artist and confronted my fear of failure. i saw a few glimmers of progress and momentum, but something was still off. even when i started working through my blocks—when i stopped overworking and took long breaks from social media and set aside time for my creative practice, there was still something preventing me from deeply connecting with my dream.
so i dug a little deeper. i started reflecting on when i first lost touch with my creativity.
for me, it was 16 years ago. i was 14 years old, wore glasses and braces and was covered in acne. on top of that, puberty had started and i was feeling deeply uncomfortable about my changing body.
it was around this time that i started to worry about the future—about popularity, my GPA, college, and career.
it was also around this time that i stopped almost all of my creative pursuits. i stopped performing in the theater and stopped making art. instead, i took advanced placement classes and opted for extracurricular activities that looked good on college applications. i got a part time job when i was 15 and i’ve worked ever since.
i don’t regret any of these experiences, in fact, i’m really grateful for some of the choices i made as an adolescent. and i recognize that i’m deeply privileged for the life i was given.
but i also see this as the beginning of a deeply hurtful and traumatic core wound. one that would take me many years to start to heal.
this core belief—that i’m only valuable if i am working hard and striving to be the best i can be, started to permeate every part of me, even at a cellular level.
starting in high school, i lived in a constant state of low-level anxiety. as a coping mechanism, i picked at my acne which made it worse, which made me feel ugly and unwanted and more anxious. in college i worried about money and about not being good enough. simultaneously, i grew resentful and judgmental of everyone in my life because i never learned how to set healthy boundaries.
and this is how i lived for a very long time.
so you see, dear reader, this is the reason that i wasn’t able to connect with my dream of becoming an artist.
because i didn’t even feel safe or ok in my own body.
and in hindsight, it all seems so obvious. all of the blog posts and listicles and books about making time for our creative goals and building healthy habits only really work if your baseline is a functioning nervous system.
and my nervous system was fucked.
so over the past few years, i’ve been working on regulating my nervous system. and only recently have i started to feel connected with myself and my dream of being an artist.
you might be wondering what it means to “regulate your nervous system”, and i will probably go more in-depth about this topic in the future. but for now i’ll leave you a list of things that have worked for me:
your list will probably be different. i know some folks use tarot, journaling, EFT tapping, running, yoga, meditation, etc. the only goal is to find activities that make you feel safe, centered, and grounded.
i’m telling you all of this because these are the words that would have helped me understand why, for the past ten years, it seemed impossible to take even the smallest steps in my artistic practice.
if you struggle with similar issues, please know that you’re not lazy or hopeless, and you’re not alone. your healing will take time. it might take many years. but as you learn to connect with yourself again, you’ll undoubtedly start to connect with your creative practice. the blocks will melt and you’ll feel flow.
if this resonated with you, reply to this email with the phrase “being a loving human being is more than enough” :)