Confessions of a "Busy Addict."
Work/life balance. Work/life balance. I have been contemplating this topic a lot lately. Maybe because it's hard in 2015 to describe ourselves as anything but the dreaded "b" word...Busy.
I've personally read some excellent articles on how a lot of people are having trouble keeping their downtime...well...down?
I find myself constantly doing something and so I hear the words "I'm busy" fall out of my mouth more than I care to admit.
As the perfectionist daughter of two self-employed artists, I find it difficult to protect my downtime. I grew up in a household filled with amazing creative energy. One that housed two amazing adults with an incredible work ethic. In my house, spending time on your passions was not considered a form of indulgence but rather meeting a basic need. I learnt early on that you had to harness your creative energy before it got the better of you. And for me, that sometimes meant spending the majority of my time focusing on creating rather than being a bundle of worry and introspection. This focus lead me to devote time to my craft at an early age, a practice which I try to maintain to this day.
There's nothing wrong with this. It's admirable even. But what happens you cross over from working hard to not taking any time off? That's what some like to call "being busy for the sake of busy" and this can be harmful.
I am a self-diagnosed "busy addict."
I've been wired to use my time efficiently and effectively and for this, I am very grateful to my parents.The other side of this is that sometimes I drive myself nuts. My mind is constantly racing and creating. I like the challenge of balancing a lot of things at once. I go from high highs after starting a new project to these awful points of exhaustion.
As I've gotten older, I've become more skilled at anticipating when I'm going to crash and have learnt to take the necessary precautions to make my fall as gentle as possible. It's difficult because most of the time I love being busy. I like scheduling, I like high-lighting and I love my agenda. Take me on a date to staples and I'll be yours forever.
The harsh reality is that sometimes I find myself in a very dark place after these intense periods of creative work mostly because I've forgotten to take care of myself. I find myself getting really sick, sad, and lonely.
Maybe this is because during these intense periods of work, I lose perspective. I forget that I'm doing all of these activities and shows mainly because I enjoy it. That's certainly why I started writing and performing. That's also why I want to keep going with my passions.
However at times, I get so caught up in perfectionism and adrenaline that I stop being grounded. I collapse into a whirlwind of scheduling and rushing. I taste chaos. My busyness vomits all over my free time. Figuratively, of course. No one likes vomit-covered anything.
In theatre, we describe this crash as a symptom of the "post show blues" --a state of sadness after going from the rush of creating and performing to the aftermath of not having much going on. I think this is a universal concept for anyone who has experienced something exciting and then is forced to return to regular life.
I've heard from people that they don't understand why artists need so much alone time especially since a lot of artists seem to be such extroverts. I can personally say that I've always needed a good chunk of alone time to recharge my batteries. To take a break from being excited, nervous, self-deprecating, neurotic and whatever other emotion I'm feeling that hour and just chill-out.
In a way, this is my break from putting myself out there all the time.
It's not because I don't love my friends and family. It's just that, at times, I can't cope with anything else. Sometimes I need to be by myself and do nothing. But I also find it really hard to let myself do nothing. My two modes swing from "go, go, go" mentality to sloth. I'm working on developing something in between.
So why do you put yourself through it?
Have you ever had something you needed to do? Something that when you did it you weren't thinking about anything else? You were just...blissful. That's what writing and performing is for me. It's magic.
It's also a lot of other things but that, perhaps, is a topic for a different day.
I hope that everyone can experience this feeling of bliss in their lives. It's one of the most beautiful moments.
Here is my hope:
That I can figure out a balance between working towards what I want without scheduling every waking minute. I also hope that other people don't have to go through as many crashes as me to realize that you can take care of yourself while doing what you love. And for me, that's taking time to be good to myself without feeling guilty.
So through the help of this handy blogpost, I must confess that I am attempting to get better at balancing my time. I'm trying to curb my addiction for unnecessary busyness without losing my drive to create. To consciously decide where I am putting my time. To chose when it's worth being busy and when it's just me being uncomfortable with time-off. So here's hoping that I can break this pattern and hopefully create healthier, more peaceful ways of working.
Fingers crossed xo.
Looking for some creative time of your own? Why not sign up for my next "For the love of writing" workshop! For more information, check-out http://www.laurelbradycreations.com/#!workshops/c1ahu and treat yourself to a creative date.