It was an ordinary morning. I woke up and started my day as I usually do: by opening the Pinterest app. That’s when I saw it. (more…)
A friendly note from your resident potato:
This is a guest post written by Ellen of If It Brings You Joy. Below, she shared an awesome idea I want to try out for myself 🙂 You can also check out what I’ve written on her blog here. And, you know, scroll through her blog while you’re there 😉
Okay, onto the post.
When was the last time you took time to do nothing? Absolutely, sweet nothing? (Scrolling through your email or Facebook feed does not qualify as doing nothing!)
Sometimes we let our lives get so busy that we forget to take time for a little self-care for our mind. “Mental” self-care is easy and really doesn’t require much time, and you deserve the benefits that this type of self-care will bring to you.
The focus of a healthy lifestyle is often about eating healthy and being physically active. Of course those two aspects are important to have a healthy lifestyle, but just as important is being mentally (or emotionally) healthy. Yet, exercising our mind is often overlooked in the quest for better health.
A healthy positive mindset gives us a boost for being better able to handle everything life brings our way. Self-care for the mind promotes the ability to focus. And building your ability to focus will help you be able to respond instead of react to a situation because you’ll be in the mindset that enables you to think.
It will ultimately lead to a decrease in stress and increase in joyful living. And you’ll be better equipped to fully recognize and appreciate the big and little joys of life. #Win.
31-Day Self-Care Challenge for a Healthy, Positive Mindset
Even though self-care for your mind aims to slow your thought, in the end it will help increase momentum of your positive thoughts that will move you to a more appreciative, joyful life. Don’t underestimate your power to get yourself on a path of a healthier, positive mindset. Get started today on your path by taking my 31-Day Self-Care Challenge!
It’s really very simple: give yourself permission to do nothing AND enjoy it! Here’s how:
- Sit in a comfy chair, on the floor, at your office desk, or anywhere that’s convenient. You can be in your home, office, or even out in nature. Sometimes I sit in my car in a parking lot!
- Now, slow your mind and try to stop all thought. As thoughts come into your mind, simply guide your mind back to a state of rest. At first it may be challenging to stop thought. However, the more you practice, the easier it will be to keep your mind clear.
- Oh, you don’t have time? No problem! This challenge requires only 5 minutes per day. Set a timer (available on any smartphone) so you don’t worry about the time. If you’re inspired, gradually increase the amount of time you give your brain a break. Work your way up to 20 minutes on days that allow you the time. Just try to do the minimum of 5 minutes every day for the full 31 days.
And that’s it!
If you take the time out of your busy life to slow down and commit to this challenge for 31 days, I suspect you will be hooked because you’ll feel better. You’ll realize that by slowing your mind for a few minutes a day, you’ll be a more relaxed person.
As your mind slows, you’ll gain more focus and clarity that will help you make choices that lead to the life you want for yourself.
Even though you may be feeling stressed because life is busy and there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done, taking time to slow your mind will actually help you get more done. You’ll gain the focus and clarity needed to think clearly and have a positive frame of mind. With those two things going for you, you’ll find yourself in a more relaxed, de-stressed mindset.
You might be thinking that this sounds a lot like meditation, and you’re right!
Meditation often gets a bad rap because people think it’s all about sitting in an awkward position with the thumb and finger pressed together. But in reality, meditation is whatever you want it to be.
There are no hard rules, you just need to slow your mind. Call it what you want, just take the time to do it and reap the benefits.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Doe Zantamata, author of the two-book series, Happiness in Your Life. Take my challenge, and may your mind be calmed so you are able to put things into perspective. Life is going to happen and we can’t control it all. But by being better equipped to put things into perspective, you’ll be on your way to a more joyful life.
About the author:
Ellen Burgan from If It Brings You Joy has a passion to practice and inspire others to lead a positive, healthful lifestyle. She shares strategies for building good daily habits, breaking bad ones, and ultimately becoming your best, joyful self. Ellen also has 30+ years of experience as a business analyst.
Have you ever had that feeling when the Devil’s Snare is holding you tightly and you’re just… stuck? Except you’re not really physically stuck. More like mentally and emotionally stuck. In life.
I mean. We’ve all been 11-year-old Ron at some point, amirite? (Source)
Feeling stuck in life sucks. I end up panicking. Always. And as much as a level-headed Hermione in my mind tells me to just relax, Kate, just relax, my first instinct is to be Ron: become sarcastic while panicking.
I mean, just off the top of my head, this ‘I’m stuck’ feeling:
- Makes you feel like you’re not doing anything
- And because you’re not doing anything, you feel useless
- And this makes you feel worthless
- Which lowers your self-esteem
- And you end up becoming a mashed/couch potato binge-watching awful reality shows on cable.
I’ve been a mashed/couch potato binge-watcher plenty of times and I honestly don’t want anyone to end up in the same position as I have, so I’m sharing to you what I do when I feel stuck in life. Hope this helps! 🙂
Purge / De-clutter
Has the physical chaos around you added to all that tangled mess already inside your head and it’s messing you up?
Friend, you’re not alone.
I’m not a very organized person. I have piles of scratch papers and empty watercolor tubes and dried up pens all over my room that I don’t throw out until it’s been like months. So when my mind becomes a hot mess and gets too overwhelming, the mess all around me is like a fuel to the already burning fire.
This is usually the time when I grab a broom and a rag and have an impromptu cleaning spree.
I’m telling you: there is something absolutely therapeutic about de-cluttering your space and purging the mess.
And I don’t call it a purge for show. If there’s an article of clothing I haven’t worn for like a year, I throw it out or donate it. If my desk or shelves are filled with papers from months ago, I throw them out. My sister had this paper bag filled with newspapers that she supposedly was going to add to her portfolio (she’s a journalist) but it’s been gathering dusts since last year. So when my brother needed paper for their classroom’s recycled Christmas decor, I gave the paper bag to him.
Look through every nook and cranny of your work space and your bedroom. If you’re a semi-organized fellow like moi, you’re bound to find a mess or four. So here are some quick de-cluttering you can start doing now:
- Dust off those spider webs in the corner.
- Organize your closet. (I mean, do you really really need that knitted hat with pompoms you’ve had since third grade? Come on, Janice.)
- Unsubscribe to newsletters that you don’t read anymore.
- Change your bed sheets and pillow cases. (I mean. That feeling of flopping onto a clean bed? 11/10 would do it every-freakin-day)
- Organize your bookshelves. In rainbow colors or by authors, whatever suits your fancy.
- Throw away those old earphones that don’t work anymore.
- Deal with The Chair™. (You know? That chair in your room where a pile of your dirty laundry sits? Tell me I’m not the only one with that chair.)
Be ruthless in your purging. When I purge I only follow one rule: if it doesn’t do any good to you anymore, it doesn’t need to occupy much space in your life. Throw them out. Let them go. Give them to other people who will make use of them. The act of cleaning and de-cluttering is a big help. And when you’re done, you’ve got so much more room to do more things. #Win.
Move / Take Action
There are so many things I didn’t get to do because I thought I wasn’t ready. And, listen, this is a very unhealthy thought to have, okay? Don’t be like me, kids.
Sometimes we get stuck because we have this mindset that we’re not good enough for anything. That we aren’t ready. That our skills isn’t enough to do what we want to do. It’s like you’re stuck in a quicksand made of all the negative self-talk you’ve created.
But you know what? No one’s ever ready for anything.
At this point, I’ve probably watched enough TED Talk videos and listened to enough motivational podcasts to know people rarely are completely ready when they start doing what they’ve wanted to do.
And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that 🙂
In fact, if you’re not ready but you jumped in and started anyway, GO YOU! That’s brave and that in itself is something to be proud of—because you faced your fear and said, “I’m doing this anyway.”
Boy oh boy. This is probably a common problem among people in the Internet. Because, you know, social media.
We can all agree social media feeds on the little green monster living inside us, right? Seeing the fabulous achievements and gorgeous lifestyle your Facebook friends have, the glamorous travel-filled life of the people you follow on Instagram… All these make comparisonitis such an easy sickness to get. And comparisonitis can make you feel like you’re not good enough to do something. Which can end up with you feeling stuck.
When that happens, I want you to remember this:
Social media is a highlights reel.
People usually only post the good things that happen in their lives. The things “worth sharing.” (Except Twitter. Twitter is the John Bender of social media.)
This guy, I swear. (Source)
I remind myself this all the time. I forgot where I found it—I tried looking for it but my History tab and my memory are both jumbled mess—but I read somewhere that we all compare our real life to another person’s highlights reel online. And that doesn’t seem fair to yourself, isn’t it?
What the post said was so accurate for me that I whipped out a blank sheet of paper and wrote a line from the blog post that really stuck to me. I have it on my desk beside my computer where I can see it everyday.
I think I paraphrased this to make it shorter and fit the paper. So if you know where this is, let me know in the comments so I can fully credit them! 🙂
Somehow, reading this quote every morning or when I’m working on my desk gives me comfort. Knowing and constantly reminding myself that other people go through bad times too and that they also rarely share all this to the world makes me more empathetic, I guess. 🙂
How do you deal with feeling like you’re stuck in life? Share your wisdom in the comments below!
Friendly reminder that my blog birthday giveaway is still going on! You can win an art commission or a custom set of blog graphic elements including a blog header 😀
Interested? Click on the image below for more info.
In case it hasn’t been obvious, I love writing.
Whether it’s writing about my angst-filled days as an early teen or this one scene I came up where a twelve-year-old girl and an ancient dragon bickered if that huge grey thing is a boulder or Big Bird, writing was, and still is, a great way for me to channel my creativity into something.
But free writing.
Oh boy. That is a deeper and more intimate way in which writing has changed my life.
Good ol’ Wikipedia calls it a prewriting technique in which you disregard spelling, grammar, or topic.
I’ve always thought of it as like freestyle rap, except you’re just writing. (Freakin-genius in English, aren’t I?)
I have relied on it a lot in different aspects of my life this year. Which is why I’ve set myself up into convincing anyone who doesn’t free write to do it. Because I think it might just change yours too 😉
6 REASONS WHY FREE WRITING IS GOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR LIFE
1. You Get to Organize Your Thoughts
I’m the kind of person who has 1,498,257 thoughts running on my mind every second. It can be pretty overwhelming. Like I just can NOT concentrate on doing anything else.
Does that sound like you too?
Does it feel like your mind is this browser with dozens of tabs opened simultaneously and it’s like you, the entire computer, is lagging constantly because how the heck are you going to process all of these???
Is that you?
Alright. Try free writing.
Free writing might just help you organize, even just a little bit, all those thoughts you are on the verge of drowning into. It totally helped me.
When I free write, I have this feeling of gradually letting thought after thought out of my brain. Putting one word after another is like closing those tabs one by one until you have just enough that you can focus on at the moment.
It is incredibly freeing and isn’t that nice? Because it’s called free writing! See what I did there? 😀 (I am so not funny)
2. It Makes You a Better Writer
Free writing helps you put thoughts into words well, right? So it also helps you become a better writer.
I mean, for one thing, it is not called a prewriting technique for show. But like any skill, writing something engaging and compelling takes lots of practice and actually doing some writing. Kristina wrote that it helped her write as many as 1,000 words in 15 minutes.
Let that sink in for a sec. 1,000 words in fifteen. freaking. minutes.
Totally amazing, right??
But free writing doesn’t just help you in the practice aspect of becoming a better writer. Free writing also helps you get into The Flow™. Or The Zone™. Or The Groove™. Whatever floats your boat.
This is when you feel fully immersed and focused on whatever activity you’re doing.
And yes, free writing can help you go to that state of mind while writing. Simply because practicing it helps you to take away compulsive self-analyzing. You might or might not get anything substantial from what you’ve free written. But you cannot forego the fact that it is a great way to flex your writing muscles and, you know, do writing warm-ups.
3. It is Actually Fun!
Sure, maybe that compulsive editor inside of you doesn’t like being in the process of free writing. BUT! Finishing that first draft of a blog post and reading through all of the grammatical errors and typos afterwards?
Which, in my compulsive editor’s view, equals F-U-N.
How else is free writing fun? I’m so glad you asked.
<3 Reading old stuff you free wrote. Do you laugh at how awkward and overdramatic you are in your old diary entries or is that just me?
<3 Knowing you can write better now compared to X years ago. Boost your self-confidence yo!
<3 You don’t have to restrain yourself and overthink every-freakin-thing (which, let’s all agree, dampens the fun out of writing)
4. It is Good for Your Sanity
There has been plenty of research in the fields of psychology and neuroscience on the importance of free writing. And it is also used in counseling and therapy.
I mean. Hello, journalling?
If you’ve read plenty of self-care posts like I have, you’d know journalling is in there at the top of the how to self-care lists. And that is basically one of the best ways to incorporate free writing into your life.
Here are some other ways free writing can be good for your sanity:
+ It’s kind of an art therapy (which we’ll discuss further later)
+ It helps you put jumbled thoughts and emotions into words (as mentioned above) which is great for self-reflection and your mental health.
+ It tires you and that’s kinda like exercise for your arm (and I dunno, for some reason I like good exhaustions. Don’t you?)
+ It’s better than breaking plates and punching a hole on your wall. I mean, you could always write about punching a hole or maybe even turning into a dragon and burning down the next village over and look! No one in real life got physically hurt! Win-win. (Except for those poor villagers. May they rest in peace.)
5. You Become More Productive (writing-wise)
One thing I’ve heard and read a lot on conquering that Horrible First Draft™ is to write now, edit later. Which, I just learned, is an excellent advice for any type of writing; from novels to poetry to technical…and even blog writing.
Practicing free writing can help you from experiencing what Ignited Moth’s post inspired me to call, The Backspace Syndrome. You know, like that backspace key is so tempting to use and you edit and delete as you go? You ever had that?
Hey me too!
So when I feel like the backspace urge is too strong as I’m writing a blog post, I either resort to writing by hand or typing it on my tablet where the urge is usually not that strong and free writing comes more naturally.
End result? I have a finished first draft of blog post! Needs a lot of editing. For sure. But it’s more than a rough outline and I’ve got thoughts and ideas down that only need a bit of refining.
6. Free Writing is Therapeutic
Free writing helps me sort out things that have been on my mind. It’s rather comforting, you know.
Gosh, there were times when free writing became incredibly emotional for me. But, in a way, it was also (well here it is again) freeing. It was just me introspecting and untangling some of my thoughts. Even for just a bit. Like I don’t have to untangle everything, and I usually don’t. But what relatively little that I get untangled and sorted out, is big enough so as to make my life just a bit more bearable.
And that’s honestly what I love the most about free writing.
Do you free write? If so, how has it helped you? Do you have the Backspace Syndrome too? Do you binge-watch TED talk videos like yours truly? Tell me all!!!
PS: If you enjoyed this post, you might like to learn 13 ways to be inspired and pump up your creativity. Just putting it out there 😉
Oh my lord, I didn’t even realize until it was literally just a few days until my lil’ blog’s birthday! This precious pitter-pat officially went live three years ago on November 12th… Or was it the 14th? I honestly forgot HAHAHA (<– shameless + pathetic)
I feel so old now, having been in the blogosphere for three years. And honestly, I feel like I don’t want to be too sentimental about this. My blog has been a permanent part of my life for sooo long and I know it will continue being so for a veeery long time 🙂 And that’s all there is to say about that.
I want to take this moment, instead, to thank all of you 700+ beautiful bumble bees who have been here with me. Whether that has been since two or three years ago or just an hour ago. Thank you so much. You all have inspired me countless times and I look forward to being inspired by all of you in the next year <3
Also: how timely is this!
I finally (FINALLY) finished cleaning the autumn watercolor graphic elements I did last September.
This is free. Like seriously. I promise your postman won’t deliver any unexpected bills from me to your doorstep, cross my heart.
These are all in PNG format and have transparent backgrounds so you can put them on any image of any color with no hassle. You can click on the image above if you want to download all of them at once. But if you have an eye for only one or some of them, click here to download your desired graphic elements individually.
Should you download it, linking to my blog or mentioning me is not necessary but very much appreciated 😉
I only ask one thing: please do not sell or give away any or some or all of the graphics to any one else. You may direct them to this post so they can download their own copy and everybody’s happy, right? Right!
And another thing:
You know how I said in the title blog birthday giveawaySSSSS?
Because I have more than one! 😀
Okay so here’s how the other one goes. It’s kind of a bit more complicated. I dunno. And it’s not much. Maybe you won’t like it. I’ll let you be the judge of that. But anyway.
Dear Beautiful People of the Internet:
I had so much fun with my first artsy giveaway early this year. I mean: drawing those hands clutching a book for Ilsa, the book-reading pose for Lia, Sasha’s fabulous pink hijab, and Kiya’s camera. These were all things I haven’t drawn until then and I enjoyed doing all of them SO MUCH.
I couldn’t NOT do another artsy giveaway.
So here’s the gist of it all:
I’ll pick three (because 3rd blog birthday obvs) random people who will win either of the following:
An art commission. A stylized portrait of you or your persona (or the man/woman of your dreams) with a simple background, or maybe a simple illustration with minimal props, etc. So long as I could accomplish your illustration with pencil, ink, and watercolor, with a bit of digital added in there, I’m all for it!
Just two things I won’t draw: realistic portraits or any famous classical paintings like van Gogh’s Starry Night. Because 1) realistic portraits and classical paintings take too much time and 2) I’m not… classically trained.
Note: Sadly, this will not include any pretty gold frames and won’t be delivered at your doorstep. Though I would love to explore that in the future, for now this will be digital and a high quality image will be sent your way.
A header and/or other graphic elements. So like a blog header, or a logo, or pretty dividers and other bits and bobs you’ll want to make your blog prettier. All 100% handmade by yours truly and all 100% made only for you <3
Judging from my first artsy giveaway, the blog graphic one isn’t that popular and, I mean, I totally understand! I enjoy making my own blog pretty myself! But I’ve had people reach out to me asking if I do blog headers and stuff so I thought, “Why the heck not?”
3 Simple Things You Need to Do to Enter:
<3 Click here to tweet so others will know. Or if you don’t have a Twitter, just holler about it on your blog and link to this post. I’m not picky.
<3 Comment below which one you wanna win (and choose just one, okay?)
<3 And tell me one Super Awesome Blogger whose Super Awesome Blog you want me to check out 🙂
I’m not really sure how many of you will enter–maybe more, maybe less. But anyway. This giveaway/raffle/thingy will run until the end of the year, December 31st 2017, and I’ll pick the winners sometime in January.
I wish you all the best of luck and hope you have a weekend as Super Awesome as you! <3
Note: The last two photos are not mine. I only added text and image overlays on them. Thus, that is not my torso. Though I so wish that was my shirt </3
Something that has been bothering me lately is how I never seem to finish anything. And I mean anything creative.
Like I would have this awesome idea for an illustration or a blog post bubbling in my head and I just know it would be so fun to create or write and gahhh it’s so good where’s my pen gimme paper and then—
Whoosh. It’s gone. And it’s messing. Me. UP.
Do you ever have that happen? Like one minute you have this cool idea of a blog post or a novel or a drawing or something and it’s extremely exciting. But before you can even act on it, it just dissipated into thin air?
It is completely frustrating. And I’ve been struggling with it for some time. So I thought I’d do a bit of reflection on how I got through my previous creative blocks (because this is obviously not the first time I experienced a creative block.)
I listed them down below for all of the precious creative corn cobs who is or has suffered from creative block like yours truly 😉
Let’s battle these horrible blocks together, yeah?
Remember “Finished, Not Perfect”
See, perfectionism can be that grumpy old troll blocking your path. As a creative, I easily get sucked into this whirlpool mentality that what I do, I should be doing perfectly. What happens is that I focus on perfection more and end up with these perfect yet unfinished works. And let’s be real here, those don’t really give that same amount of satisfaction as finished works do.
The creator of the famous Inktober Challenge, Jake Parker has this short video where he gave this really good point about how a year from now, you’d think you could’ve done better.
So why fuss about it so much now, when you know you’re gonna be better at it in the future?
Now, whenever I’m writing a blog post or creating an illustration, I make it a point to just focus on finishing it. Sometimes it comes easy, like being at the moment of drawing something. And sometimes overthinking starts to nudge me on the side and I’ll have to force myself to get back to doing what I’m doing.
During those times, I remember that my goal at that moment is “finished, not perfect.” You can watch Jake Parker’s video below:
Create a Mental Accountability Exercise
Whenever I read articles on how to be productive when you’re unmotivated or something similar, one tip they always throw out is to keep distractions away from you.
This doesn’t work for me.
I grew up having to think of things to keep myself occupied without any help from the adults. And while that’s a good thing for my creativity, it does have some negative side: I am always distracted.
Like I would try to keep my phone away from me when I work but then ooh! There’s that book my sister bought last week, let’s read the blurb! Or I would study somewhere in our campus with few people hanging around but gosh, look at those rooftops outside, what color are those?
See what I mean?
So instead of keeping them away, I have to build on my inner focus more. Which is why I’m trying to create this habit of having a regular mental accountability exercise. Like every hour or so I’d think, “Okay, Kate. How are you? And how have you been doing this-and-that so far? What’s your progress? What are you finding difficulty on?”
It’s like I’m being the supervisor of my own self, weirdly funny as that sounds. I haven’t built this habit firmly yet but the times when I do completely immerse myself in the exercise I finish more work and I feel I enjoyed doing them more.
Change Things Up
I don’t know why. But when you’re doing routine work in a different way, it’s refreshing. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
I’ve been struggling with finishing blog posts lately, which is why I’ve been having these short impromptu blogging breaks the past few months. I just can’t seem to write well in my laptop for some reason.
So I decided I’d write the first draft of this post on my tablet and then edit on my laptop. And ohmybuttertoast, it worked! It freaking worked you guys! My train of thought went more smoothly than when I’m typing on my laptop. And it felt weird. Weirdly good. It felt like it’s been a long time since I wrote something and finished it.
Of course, I had to add in some stuff while I edited the draft on my laptop. But the point here is: by changing just one small detail in my routine, I actually worked better.
Take a Break from What You’re Doing
I honestly can’t stress this point enough. I even made a separate post before on the importance of taking a break. Breaks are important and we’re usually in this hustle mindset that we forget to sit back and catch a breather. Heck even I do.
Last month, I made the decision of stepping away from my Wednesday-and-Saturday blogging schedule because it’s just not doing any good for me recently. I needed a fresh perspective and a new routine.
October gave me that opportunity with Inktober. There were times when I had to do a bit of catch up but I enjoyed Inktober! And it has opened new creative, artsy doors that were totally refreshing.
(Also PS, if you haven’t read it yet, I’ve written a whole post on my first Inktober and what I’ve taken away from that experience)
And I know this contradicts that first part about finishing your work. But you know what? Why not try both?
I’ve been in a time when I thought, “Crap crap crap this looks awful, this really looks awful” but continued doing it anyway and finished it and freakin’ loved how it looked. And I’ve also been in a time when I simply turned the page of my sketchbook and told myself, “I’ll go back to that later. Maybe it won’t look as awful by then.” On both times, things worked out alright.
A few more ideas
I love reading blog posts or listening to podcasts on creativity and ideas. So here are some other bloggers’ take on creative blocks and, in general, capturing the ever fleeting and slippery ghouls called ideas.
May of Forever and Everly shared a simple yet very crucial tip we sometimes forget when blogging: when you have great blog post ideas, freaking write. Them. Down. (Also, her post is all about blogging pet peeves which is totally hilarious so go check it out after you’ve written that idea down, okay?)
In this post on organizing your blogging life, Ilsa of A Whisper of Ink gave me the most amazing idea for saving ideas (so meta I know) BOOKMARKS! Why haven’t I thought of that before???
The lovely blogger from Thoughts from ’94 wrote this post on writer’s block. I especially loved how she said blogging is not always about the writing but also experiencing things because YAS GURL I TOTALLY AGREE.
Y’all also check out where Lauren of Loulabellerose find blogging inspiration. I love how she added “Myself” there and it reminded me of an episode from The Magic Lessons podcast where Liz Gilbert and her guest of the episode talked about how wonderful it is to find inspiration from yourself.
Check out these girls’ lovely blogs, yo! They’re really amazing 😉
See, there are so many ways that you can go about conquering creative block. That’s the great thing about dealing with problems on creativity.
There is no perfect solution. There are hundreds of ways that you can navigate to. And you can try one or three or all hundreds of them and learn which one works for you and which doesn’t 🙂
YOUR TURN: Have you experienced creative block? How did you deal with it? Share your wisdom in the comments!
Seriously. I’m curious.
Think of something, just one thing, right now. Something that you’ve always wanted to do but never found the time. This urge deep, deep inside you that just wants out. It just screams to be shared to the world. But it didn’t get to.
What is it that’s holding you back? That’s making you hesitate to take the first step? That no matter how many times you’ve replayed Shia Labeouf’s iconic (and probably now a classic) motivation clip, you STILL didn’t do it?
Is it your need for perfection? Or is it procrastination? Is it maybe because you feel guilty? Or you have more important things to do? Or you feel like you’re not ready for it? That you’re not good enough?
I like to think there’s one word for it, whatever it is that’s holding you back:
I mean… perfectionism? That’s fear. Procrastination? Fear. Guilt? Busy-ness? Insecurity? F E A R.
Me + Fear = Self-doubt
At the start of the year, I planned this monthly creative thing. During each month, I was supposed to work on one huge illustration. It was supposed to be my 2017 creative project where I could improve on anatomy, get out of my creative comfort zone, practice putting more details on my work.
Now that I think about it, they’re all ambitious shenanigans.
Three months into it, I was still okay. I got to create illustrations that I was proud of, even now. But March was also the last month of our school year. Things got hectic and busy. I was meeting project deadlines. At the same time, deep inside me, doubt was starting to grow. Doubt on myself, mostly. On my art.
Utterly overwhelmed, I ran towards and hid behind the protection the busy-ness of school life provided. I had more important things to do, I reasoned out. I needed to make a priority. Funny thing, this was exactly what happened to me last year. I threw out everything not related to school.
My art, my blog, and *chokes* books.
That was hell, I tell you. And I regretted not having enough time for my hobbies.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to be like that this year. But, surprise surprise, I went back into that rabbit hole. Less than a year later.
Here’s another example:
I am a World-class Procrastinator™. Most times, I procrastinate because I’m lazy (especially in things like, you know, school). But sometimes I procrastinate in creating a blog post or doing this illustration that I’ve been planning in my head for a while now. And I constantly beat myself up over it.
Fear manifests into your life in so many ways
You might take a look at what’s holding you back and think, “Pssh, nah. That ain’t fear.” But if you look real close and think about it real hard, you’d realize that yes it is fear.
My refuge to busy-ness? That’s me avoiding the challenge I’ve set myself up because of self-doubt. Because I was afraid of failing that challenge. Being a creative procrastinator? That’s me fearing I won’t do what I imagined in my mind justice.
Like, you know how boggarts transform into that very thing you’re afraid of? How it turned into a giant spider for Ron and a dementor for Harry? That is the very essence of fear.
It morphs and takes different shapes, depending on the person that encounters it.
Now, I’m facing another encounter with fear. And it’s holding me back again. But this time’s different. I refuse to let it hold me back. I don’t want to feel awful at myself because I didn’t try to step away from my fear. Not anymore. And if you’re in a similar position as me right now, neither should you.
So what can we do about it?
Really, the first step to all this is knowing you’re afraid of something. And that fear is holding you back.
Sometimes we like to be in denial even with ourselves. I get it. My gosh, it can be sooo hard to be honest with yourself. Because truth is supposedly simple but it also hurts, which makes it so difficult to confront, let alone acknowledge.
So I always take the phrase “reflect on your actions” to heart. I try to give myself time and space alone to reflect on what I did and why I did it. Sometimes I reflect while doodling. Sometimes I’m just staring at my ceiling while the Hamilton soundtrack is playing in the background. I couldn’t care less, so long as I’m reflecting and acknowledging my flaws and fears.
If pure, staring-blankly-into-space reflection is hard for you, here are other ways you can reflect:
<3 Talk with someone—whether it’s a friend, or a confidante, or a professional
<3 Write an entry in your journal
<3 Meditate or do yoga
<3 Read books in a genre you rarely read
<3 Cook or bake
<3 Do pottery or other crafty activities
<3 Listen to relaxing music
When you’re at that point where you’re frustrated at yourself because you are not doing the thing that ignites your passion, it’s time to reflect. Ask yourself, “What is it that’s holding me back? What am I afraid of?”
Awareness is always the first step. The moment you are aware of your emotions and fears, the moment you acknowledge their existence, the rest is a little bit easier to deal with. At least that’s what I think 🙂
Check back here again next Wednesday for part two of this… Post? Impromptu series? Whatever you call it. 😉 I will talk about the rest of the steps you could take to step out of fear’s grasp and start doing what you’ve always wanted to do. For now, take the first step. And tell me:
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never got to? What’s holding you back? Is it fear just like mine? Do you take time for self-reflection? How do you reflect on your day?
I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts! 🙂
Okay, Kate. How in the world are color pencils connected to control and perfectionism???
If you’ll just read on, it’ll make sense. I promise. Or I hope it does. So here goes.
Yep. I’m a perfectionist.
Or well, I used to be a hardcore one…? Now, I’ve loosened up a bit. (I think. Kind of.) The thing is, I’ve always tried to look into every miniscule detail of what I do.
I wanted to make sure that everything, every last little thing, every single tiny microscopic little thing* was perfect. To a T. That includes my art. So while I’m drawing something, various anxious perfectionist questions pop out of my head like,
Is the anatomy alright?
Are the color combinations aesthetically pleasing?
Did I get the skin color right?
Are there any unnecessary marks?
Is that stray hair strand dramatic as I want it to look?
Or is it just totally awkward?
Oh god, it does look awkward, doesn’t it?
Why does the cactus look like a rotten, withered cucumber??
And why does her skin color look like Donald-freakin-Trump’s**???
I know right. Why am I stressing over a hair strand. Ugh.
The thing is, I used to avoid color pencils because, like watercolor before, they’ve given me artistic trauma***.
*Please tell me you knew this reference. Halloween is coming.
***Yes, it is a phrase. And yes, I’m exaggerating 😉
You know how when you use regular color pencils you have to put light pressure when sketching because it’ll be hard to erase if you don’t?
Yep, I learned that the hard, artistically traumatic way.
See, I’m the kind of person who has a really pressured penmanship. Sometimes I’m super focused on writing that I literally tear the paper in half.
It’s scary, I know.
And I also sketch that way. So you can just imagine little ten-year-old Kate who tried color pencils for the first time in her art class and ended up making this hot mess because she spent most of the time frustratingly erasing the color pencil.
Scarred, little Kate vowed to never touch a color pencil for the rest of her life. (Lol I should stop talking about myself in third person, it’s creepy)
Anyway, the point here is: little Kate is such a hardcore perfectionist. And back then, I wanted control in every aspect of my life, even my drawings.
I avoided color pencils and watercolor back then like the plague because I knew I won’t be able to have as much control with them as I do with pencils and pen. I wanted something I can easily control. But now that I think about it, you really can’t have that.
There are things that are totally out of your control.
This was so hard for me to accept, by the way.
Most likely because I was a stubborn perfectionist.
It always frustrated me when things get out of hand and everything becomes a hot mess and before I knew it I’m crying like a toddler who didn’t get her candy. But I’ve come to accept that there really are things that are uncontrollable. That no matter how you stubbornly want to micromanage things, they may not go the way you want it to be.
And you know what? No amount of effort on your part will make the uncontrollable controllable.
It’s harsh, but the truth is often that.
So instead of whining about how you can’t control the uncontrollable, focus instead on what you can actually control.
I tried to sketch with color pencils last week (much to ten-year-old Kate’s despair, I’m sure) and I thought, “If color pencils aren’t easily erasable, I’ll just have to try to put as light a pressure as I possibly could.”
Let me tell you: that first time was sooo hard. I had to squint my eyes to see the lines and in several occasions, I was sooo tempted to darken them. But I can’t control the unerasable-ness of the color pencil. So I had to control my pressure instead.
The whole ten or so minutes was an exercise to my perfectionism and need for ultimate control. But when I finished the sketch, I was so delighted with how it turned out!
It looked so good and, compared to a graphite pencil sketch, it looked so soft and feminine! Why didn’t I do this before??
Oh right. My control-needing perfectionism was hindering me.
And maybe, if you’re a perfectionist (or at least an aspiring micromanager) like yours truly, it’s hindering you to try out new things too. Maybe you’re stuck in the morning traffic and you’re already late and you sorely wished to be like Hancock and just throw all the cars in front of you.
But you’re not Hancock. And the morning traffic happen every-freakin-day. So instead of trying (and failing) to control it, wake up early.
So I want you to think of all those things you didn’t do or plans you cancelled or frustrations you’ve had because of something you can’t control. Think of the color pencil you were avoiding like the plague. Now think of what you can change. Try to look at it at a different angle and see what controllable thing you can do instead.
Who knows? Maybe, like me, you’d delightfully think: “Why didn’t I do this before?” 😉
Let’s talk, yeah? Are you a perfectionist? Have you avoided something like the plague because you’re afraid you can’t completely control the outcome? What did you do? Do share them in the comments below!
Have an awesome day! <3
Fun fact: I got the idea of writing this blog post while in the second wave of my exams week. (I know right, why am I doing this to myself??? *sobs ungraciously*)
So just yesterday, exams week ended for me. And lookie lookie! I’m alive! YAAAAY WHOOP WHOOP!
I’m willing to bet that you’ve experienced the harshness of exams week at least once in your life. And like me, you’ve probably come up with this conspiracy theory that your teachers or professors secretly meet at a deserted, dimly-lit, tobacco-scented pub. There, they’d agree to give out their exams all on the same day. (Or maybe that’s just me, hekhek)
Exams week can be such an evil goblin.
And maybe like me, you’re a second- or fifth-rounder who just wants to get a better grip on exams. Folks, your sloppy potato truly here got some snazzy tips for you to get through exams week and how to prep for it physically, mentally and emotionally.
First things first, a disclaimer: These are all things that worked for me, a complete study newbie*. I’m not saying that they’ll work the same way for anyone else. Because maybe they won’t.
So like any advice and tips I share here, take these by the teeny-tiny grain 🙂 Okay? Okay, here we go!
*Yes that is a term. And seriously. I only started making my own sloppy potato version of a study habit this semester.
This one is a no-brainer. Of course you need to mentally prepare yourself for exams week because… it’s exams week.
But get this guys: even when I knew I HAD to mentally prepare myself for exams, I still ended up procrastinating and cramming at the last minute. Now back in high school, I could get away with cramming and winging major tests. I’d still get a passing grade, anyway.
But college is cram- and wing-it-proof. I had to learn that fact the hard way. And maybe you have high school exams over there that are cram- and wing-it-proof as well like SATs and A-Levels*.
So a mental preparedness primer** here:
Start establishing your self-discipline.
Yo take it from me, a college junior who’s still building her study habits: it makes your life A WHOLE LOT easier if you discipline yourself to stick to your commitments.
I’m gonna be honest here. Building your self-discipline won’t be easy. Even now, I’m still struggling with disciplining myself. But I’ve come a long way from that college freshman who gets easily tempted by YouTube videos and ends up not studying.
*correct me if I’m wrong tho. I only knew about these because of all the llama-wailing happening in teen blogs and in Twitter.
**Ha, “primer.” Don’t you just looove using big words, Kate
More ways to mentally prepare yourself:
+ Start building a study habit at the first few weeks of school. It helps in the long-run and would avoid you to rely on the Cramming Gods™. (Again, this is something I only started applying this semester.)
My fellow ex-crammer college buddy fell ill a few days before our exams week. And she shared how relieved she was that she started dividing her study time in chunks over the past couple of weeks in case of unexpected things like getting sick.
+ Regularly review your finished topics (in my case, I do it every weekend)
+ You don’t have to study more, just study smart. Know the subject. Does it have more concepts? Will you need to answer problems? (for me, I read situational examples for Law and practice answering problems for Accounting)
Basically, don’t cram it in. I don’t force myself to read every hour of every day because I can’t do that. I’m not wired to do that. If I do that and force my brain to read on something for hours on end, it implodes.
Instead, I would make myself commit to achieving at least three things over the weekend. Remember the self-discipline primer I mentioned above? This is where that comes in.
My favorite mental preparedness resources: For self-discipline, there’s this monologue by Marcus Aurelius I found through College Info Geek that’s definitely worth checking out.
Also, I found this delightful How-To on Pinterest. I like how No-BS the tips are. Because, personally, I kinda gave up on the cutesy fluffy study tips typically found on YouTube and Pinterest. I mean, cool, maybe they work for others. But those never work for me. This one does. Plus, its actionable-ness really appealed to me. You can check the image here.
Okay, listen up. Because this is where my kinda expertise lie. Much as exams week can be really stressful — and there’s no arguing its stressfulness — that does not mean you should forego looking after your physical health. Exact opposite! This is the time when you should look after it like a fragile baby.
I mean, who ever told you that your health is like a sacrificial steak you burn to please the Olympian gods??? They’re not! Percy Jackson didn’t teach us that! (whoa so anger-y)
Here are two common ways students are sacrificing their physical health for exams:
>>Not getting enough sleep. I honestly don’t get where we get that “sleep is for the weak” culture. It’s a bunch of rotten bananas. Sleep is important. Especially in crucial times when you need to stay focused like, uh, in a freakin exam??? And it’s been backed by a HELL tons of research.
You know what Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Arianna Huffington have in common? (You know, other than the fact that they founded some of the biggest websites online and are super successful and rich)
They have adequate hours of (guess what?) S L E E P.
Forget “sleep is for the weak.” Get Sleep for Exams Week!
“But Kate, I am a night owl. My brain functions better at night!” Pssh. Easy fix: Go to bed at 4PM, set your alarm at 10PM and start your witching hour study ritual. Viola! You get 6 hours of sleep in your body and you get to study.
>>Relying on junk foods for your three meals a day. Bro, please no. No amount of Happy Meals or potato chips can give your body the adequate nutrients it needs to survive the week.
<3 Eat carbs and proteins that give you energy to last you the week.
<3 Eat fruits and veggies that keep you healthy and away from sickness.
My mom likes to tell us, “You only have one body. Invest in it and take good care of it.” I mean, what other vessel will bring you to your exam room?
A metal can? The clouds?
Though those would be really cool, nope. It’s your body. So my dear friends, look after your body, mkay?
(also btw, we’re getting a lil’ deep in a few)
For a long time, I always thought I don’t need to emotionally prepare myself for exams week. I’ve always been able to tamp down my nervousness and the llama-wailing inside me. This semester was different, though.
The night before my first day of exams, I had a breakdown.
It wasn’t an instant thing. It was gradual. Everything piled up in the past few days. Toxic thoughts and trivial worries that I chose to ignore because “I don’t have time to deal with them. I still have to study.” I forgot what triggered the floodgates to open. But it did. I tried ignoring them but they were too much. They already accumulated in the past few days.
And I just broke down.
Thankfully, at one point, I just thought, “Okay Kate. This isn’t working. You’re not getting any study done if you keep this. They want to be addressed. So let’s address them.”
And so I did. I thought of all the toxic thoughts and worries I avoided in the last several days:
“Things are getting out of hand.”
“You’re not doing enough.”
“You are not enough.”
“Why are you still doing this?”
“You’re gonna fail anyway.”
Remembering my state of mind that night still make me feel miserable. But I got through it. And that’s something.
Here’s what I did during and after that crucial emotional part of my exams week:
<3 Listened to guided meditation. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to meditating but I like guided meditations. Specifically, listening to Chel Hamilton’s Meditation Minis podcast. Her voice is very relaxing.
That night, the first thing my hands did was open my podcast app and I listened to Episode 09. I didn’t think spending that precious 10 minutes was a waste at all. I’d rather spend 10 minutes regaining my emotional state than spend the next couple hours bumbling helplessly.
<3 Told myself that I’m going to be okay. I like telling myself, “Okay Kate. You can do this. You can DO this.” Remember in Frozen when Kristoff and Anna were about to jump off a cliff and Anna kept saying, “I can do this. I was BORN ready.”
It’s like that. This is my motivating mantra. And in a way, it boosts my morale.
<3 Gave myself time to relax. After that first day of exams, I decided that I won’t be spending the rest of my day studying for the next exams. I’d do it on the next day. Instead, I drew. I started writing the first draft of this post. I experimented in some graphic elements I made myself.
In a way, it was a sort of reward I gave myself. I got through my first day of exams. And I got through it with minimal scars. YAAY WHOOP WHOOP!
So whaddaya gotta do?? TREAT. YO. SELF.
My favorite emotional preparedness resource: This post written by Bea of Child of Cynicism a few months ago. I have a screenshot of it saved on my phone because I just knew I’ll need it. And I did 🙂
Do check out Bea’s awesome blog! She shares her views on the socio-cultural issues present in our society and they are absolutely thought-provoking and inspiring <3
Okay guys, one last thing: All the things I shared here? In one way or another, they interrelate. Taking care of yourself during exams week (or any week for that matter) involves a wholesome care routine that gives thought into your mental, physical, and emotional state.
And at the end of the day, remember what Bea said in her awesome post linked above.
You are more than any exams.
They are important, yes. But they’re not as important as your well-being. And if a sloppy potato like me can get past them, I have no doubt in my mind that an awesome peep like you can too 🙂
Your turn: How do you get through exams week? Will you be experiencing it soon? Do you have an exams week preparedness plan ready? Do you have a favorite podcast??? Do share them in the comments below! I’m a potato newbie to this and I’d love to hear your expertise! 😀
Happy Exams Week-conquering, awesome peeps! 💪
Note: I initially called exams week “Hell Week”, because that’s what we call it here. Apparently not in the west. So I decided to just edit the whole thing because I don’t want there to be any confusion or misunderstanding regarding the post. Cheerios! 🙂
Here’s another Katie’s Oldies but Goldies! (HAHAHA I should really stop using that lame name now, I know. But I can’t help it somehow???)
Hey everyone! Just wanna let you know that at the time of editing this post, I’m still alive. Not as preoccupied and llama-wailing as last week, thank goodness. Saturday’s post miiiight be a new one. Might. If I find the time. Until then, I will be a lurker in the blogosphere whenever I find the free time to open Reader.
Hope y’all are doing great! 🙂 Now, onto the post…
I always admired how my sister knew exactly what she wanted. Like me, she devoured series like the Harry Potter series and A Series of Unfortunate Events when she was eight or nine. On her fifth grade, she was already writing her very own novel in an unused composition notebook.
By the time she was in high school and got exposed to the annual city-wide press conference, she started competing in editorial writing. That was when she realized she loved technical writing more than creative writing. She’s a writer for a local newspaper now and she still types fiercely.
And then there’s me.
You know how as far back as kindergarten we were already asked what we want to be when we grow up? Back in first grade, I really put a lot of thought into this because we were supposed to tell it to the entire class.
So I weighed in my options. I was definitely not going to be a doctor because most of the class already said that. And you can’t have everybody be a doctor, right?? Who’s gonna run the country then? So you know what I wanted to be back in first grade?
And I mean, that’s not an awful job in and of itself. I don’t think I’ll ever have the bravery those admirable miners have every time they go to work. But do you know why I wanted to be a miner???
Because I wanna give poor people some of my wealth.
*sigh* The Seven Dwarfs definitely contributed a lot in my way of thinking back then.
Funny how, when I think about it in retrospect, adults just ask this question because they find children already thinking of their future adorable.
Like six-year-old innocent Kate who is still free of any cynicism in her body.
But over and over, I am asked this question from grade school to high school and even now in college. It may have evolved into different forms the older I get but it’s still the same:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“What’s your ambition?”
“What are you taking in college?”
“What do you do?”
I’m now usually asked the third one. And when I answer Accountancy, it’s always followed by either, “Oh! You’re so smart then!” or “Wow! So you wanna be a CPA someday?”
And the thing is, I don’t think I’m that smart–I’m merely hanging by a thread at this point. And I don’t want to be a CPA. (At least not for long.) This question about my career is always a daunting reminder that I barely have a plan for my future.
See, we’re that consumed on thinking about career. We like to put this kind of expectations to our young folks, reasoning that they have to be ready when they step out into the real world. As if the world we young adults are living right now isn’t the real world.
But what if they still don’t know what they want to do? Most likely scenario? They get thrown with so many negative responses.
“What an irresponsible child.”
“Stop being indecisive.”
“You can’t keep playing your whole life, kid.”
“You shouldn’t be wasting your time.”
Don’t you think that seemed…. I don’t know, unfair?
Not everyone is like my sister. Not everyone knows what they want to do. Some of us are still patting our way into this dark maze called life. And you know what?
Not having everything figured out is okay.
And so, if you are also on the verge of wrapping yourself around the same thoughts I mentioned above, here’s what you can think instead:
<3 It’s not irresponsible to not know what you want. Not when the options could be too many for you to handle and you’re overwhelmed.
<3 It may seem indecisive, but I would rather weigh in my options carefully than pick a choice quick.
<3 It’s not playing if you are trying to think real hard about your career.
<3 And how can it be a waste of time when you’re trying to learn more about yourself and what you really want?
The awesome blogger behind Personal Dailies said it best in her post, “Do you know what you want to do yet”. That the first 18 years of life is not usually the ideal time to figure out your One True Calling.
We all go through similar things, sure. But when they would happen and how we would respond to them are all unique to each of us. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying everything first before picking out what you really want to do. I’ve come to the conclusion that life is a series of trial and errors.
There is no fix thing or an absolute solution.
And if, along the way, you want to change course, it’s your call. Which is what I’d rather want to do. Instead of thinking about my calling, I’ll just start identifying my call.
Kinda cheesy and lame, I know. But that’s just it. No one–not your family or your friends or the school or even Yoda–can tell you how to live your life or pinpoint to you where to find the answers you need. You only need one person. And that’s you.
TALK TO ME: Do you know what your calling is? Or are you like me and still mulling over your choices? Have you recently discovered your calling? If yeah, would you like to share about it? I would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
Have an inspired, whistle-while-you-work day, awesome peeps! <3
PS. Google Calendar says today is apparently Book Lovers Day*. So shoutout to my fellow bookworms! What are you reading today? Anyone read any book that taught you something career-related?
Also, here are some other articles on early career decisions for youth. Just to let y’all know that, if you’re feeling it, you’re not alone 🙂
Young people are having to take career decisions too early | The Guardian
The Immense Pressure of Career Choice | Psychology Today
I also shared three reasons why it’s okay not to have everything figured out. You can check that post out here~
*I mean… let’s face it. Everyday is Book Lovers Day, amirite???