Creatives and Burn Out: You Are Enough
Hi friend! This is a personal blog post, which I love to do every once and a while. Transparency means so much when getting to know your photog! If you want to see more portfolio-like content, click on over here!
When people talk about burn-out, it's generally meant that they feel overwhelmed, over scheduled, stressed out, in a rut, passionless, cynical, "over it", hopeless, on and on. It might seem like someone who's in a creative field - who's constantly CREATING something new, something fresh, something exciting - would find it hard to reach that place, right? Maybe you are a creative reading this, and find yourself comparing your work to others, struggling to find your passion, not looking forward to things you used to? Maybe you haven't blogged in two weeks (ahem) and you are just wanting a break to actually be at your house and spend time there, maybe even clean it? (that always gets pushed to the bottom of the list!)
Burn-out is real, and burn-out is relative. Not everyone can produce the same amount in a day, whether that be photos, social media content, articles, products, whatever whatever whatever! I often have to check my heart to not only stop myself from judging MY performance against others, but others against mine! How terrible does that sound? If you are treating others, and yourself, based on what you/they produce, you need to check that at the door. Give yourself, and others, grace! It's okay to leave a few things unchecked on your to-do list. Nothing is as urgent as taking care of yourself and your soul.
I feel that transparency and self-care, along with ALLOWING yourself to put on the brakes every once and a while is NECESSARY - and definitely something I struggle with a lot. Get coffee with me, and certainly you will hear the phrase "I never feel like I'm doing ENOUGH." And I know a LOT of other people that feel this way too. You set a standard for yourself, and if you don't meet it, you "fail." But I realized recently that standards HAVE to be fluid. Your "enough" is based on a million things that are NOT constant like time, energy, commitments, health, family... so why should your standards be rigid if the rest of your life is not?
If you a religious person, you may have heard the phrase that "Jesus is enough." That sounds amazing and is probably on a t-shirt somewhere, but what does that actually, tangibly mean and how do I live my life showing that I believe that? I'm sure the answer is different for everyone, but what I've found is that to embrace that God is enough and not rely on yourself means that first you set realistic standards of what you CAN do. Be honest with yourself. Then, you do what you CAN in a day given all the factors against you. At the end of the day when you're looking at all the things you didn't get done but wanted to, you then CHOOSE to not worry, be thankful for what you DID get done, and literally just relax and take time to recharge. Some pastors call that "resting in grace" - and I had to figure out what that tangibly meant. I spend so much time and mental energy thinking about what I HAVE to do, that figuring out what I WANT to do with my free time (that I have to MAKE) was a challenge. But now, I realize that's what "resting in grace" means for me: just rest, and stop freaking out, because God's got you and it's going to be okay.
You may know that almost 3 years ago now I lost my father to a really aggressive cancer. I often think about how he worked so hard as a mechanic his whole life, with the goal of retirement and adventuring with mom, taking trips, and filling his time with memories. Luckily, dad also knew how to enjoy life right where he was, and often took trips and had adventures (not to mention a million hobbies) to enrich the everyday life instead of just grinding away for that "someday." It took me way too long to realize that this is the key to happiness for a "type A" like myself - make time for rest and fun in the here and now.
Before he passed, I inherited his old Canon A1 film camera, and recently committed to learning how to use it and shoot on film. It's a completely different beast than digital, and the thing I've loved most about film is that it FORCES you to go slow, wait for the moment, notice all the details, and value the experience. Digital cameras can rapid-fire off shots like a machine gun, and while that's definitely my go-to for client sessions to ensure I don't miss anything, film has been an amazing antidote for burn-out for me because of all the reasons above. Any time I go on an adventure, the film camera comes along - not so I can "work", but so I can be more present. I'm still not perfect at it, but I'm having a great time with it, and it's a way to keep dad with me in those adventures he loved so much too.
If you are experiencing burn-out, I encourage you to tap into your curiosity. Learn something, pick up a new hobby, inject some "different" into your life. It will give you a distraction, a spark, a reprieve, and you just might discover one more thing that you're awesome at! Hope you enjoy these highlights from a few of my adventures this summer, all shot on film and with dad's A1!