I’m taking a break.
Over the past couple months, a lot of things have happened—new job, plethora of house projects, squeezing a quick road trip in, hurricane, tree falling on our car during said hurricane… and this isn’t an exhaustive list.
All in all, we’ve been very fortunate… and the many happenings that have kept us busy have generally been good things (save that errant tree, of course.) However, I’ve definitely reached the point where I’m ready to cry uncle. And like most people, I don’t tend to do that very often.
Social media certainly isn’t the main stressor in my life. However, it is a self-induced responsibility I’ve tacked onto my own schedule. Managing it, planning content for it, creating content for it… all things that I genuinely used to enjoy. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out where that joy has run off to.
The passion that used to drive me to write into the wee hours of the morning, pack my camera bag, sleep, and then wake up a scant few hours later to chase a sunrise has mysteriously gone missing. It’s odd, because I’ve been “burnt out” many times, and know what that feels like. This doesn’t feel like burnout; it feels more like writer’s block of the photography persuasion. Try as I might, I just cannot seem to find the drive to create.
And with that, comes guilt.
Most, if not all, creative types understand this feeling. You’re letting your past self down. You’re going to get left behind. You’re going to lose the few followers you have. You’re going to… well, I’m not sure, but it’s going to be real bad.
The subconscious goes into hysterics. It runs itself in circles. But if you pause, and look closely… nothing’s really changed. Nobody’s going to take your “photographer” or “writer” cards away.
But then again, are your creative pursuits really the full sum of who you are as a person? Would it really be so bad to step away from those activities, for a short time, or even a long time? Would taking a break from these hobbies or creative outlets really change who you are to any discernable degree?
The answer, of course, is no. But in a world where we’re advised to chase our passions and utterly devote every waking moment to them or run the risk of living, at best, a mediocre life (read: “hustle”) oftentimes the answer suspiciously feels like a “yes.”
Ultimately, I just had to ask myself a simple question: Am I spending my time well?
Am I fully inhabiting each moment of my life, or just the ones that seem most interesting at the time?
Four years ago, I’d never even gone camping. Now, life doesn’t feel complete without dirt roads, winding trails, and endless skies.
During my worst encounter with depression, all that seemed interesting at the time was curling into an ever-shrinking ball on the couch in an effort to ward off the next panic attack. Until I picked up a camera for the first time in years.
“Follow your passion.”
I don’t believe that is the answer. I believe that chasing passions is too short-sighted, and simultaneously not enough—not nearly enough to live a fulfilled life.
I do my best to recognize my passions. To notice them. To not discount them. To give them space. But I shouldn’t let them utterly consume my life. How else am I supposed to give room to everything else I feel passionate about? Or allow enough space for new passions to grow?
How can I travel, if I’m spending every cent I make on camera gear, classes, etc.? How can I delve into photography, if I’m spending all my time buried in the closest notebook, writing and editing and scribbling endlessly?
The things that drive us should not rule us. We should give them more credence than that.
So with that said: I’m taking at least a month off from all social media. And not only that… I’m taking a break from hammering away at writing and photography.
I’m going to put my camera in the closet and walk away. I’m going to put my notebook down, close the laptop, and see what comes of it. I’m not going to push myself to create for the sake of having something to show for it.
My hope is that when, or if, inspiration strikes me, my mind will be quiet enough to listen. That when an idea reveals itself, I’ll be able to give it a chance to grow and change and breathe instead of snatching it up in its infancy and calling it a finished product… so that I can immediately have something to show to the world. I’m curious to see what will happen when I give a new idea the space it needs to fully reveal itself.
I’m hoping to have one thing—a single photograph, one essay or short story, or hell, even a knitted sweater, to show you at the end of the month. My hope is to cultivate a single idea and follow it through. But if by the end of the month I find I have nothing to post or share, I’m choosing to be okay with that too. I’m choosing to give it time.
Until then, you can reach me by the contact form on my website, or by emailing me at email@example.com