I’m teaching and planning a couple different residencies, deepening my yoga practice, and spending some quality time with my new fancy DSLR camera. Last night I made my first art journal attempt last night. Despite all of these seemingly wonderful creative outlets in my life, I’ve been feeling generally uninspired and creatively dead inside.
Emphasis on the inside part of that last statement. Nothing is lacking in my external world in terms of sources for inspiration. But something just hasn’t been sitting right on the inside. So what do you do when there’s no outside cause to blame for this icky feeling?
Reconnect with your artist identity
I have a hard time remembering that I am an artist. “But Meredyth,” you might be thinking, ” This is a blog about your adventures as a teaching artist. It says artist right there! What’s wrong with you?” Well, nothing is wrong with me, but here’s the deal: my deep dark secret is that identifying myself as an artist is really hard for me. I don’t always think of myself as a creative person. I might get there after listing other descriptors like thinker, writer, problem-solver, logical, and perfectionist. But creative? I’m much less confident about using that word to describe myself. And I worry that I’m just pretending to be a creative artist.
These kinds of insecurities about our creative value in the world can eat artists alive, IF we let them. It’s worth acknowledging that they are there. Self-doubt is a part of life. But so is confidence and resilience and ambition and dreaming. There is more joy in celebrating your artistry than in letting all your insecurities pick away at it. The second sentence of my teaching artist philosophy is “Every student is an artist.” We need to include ourselves in that statement. I am an artist. You are an artist. Reconnect, and celebrate.
Give yourself creative credit
These uninspired funks are more often than not an indicator that I’m in major need of a perspective makeover. Like I said before, there’s not some monumental external thing that has to change for this mood to lift- it’s an internal shift that has to happen.
Sometimes that comes in the form of reminders. Take stock of your creative life. Take time to identify moments in your day, your week, or even the past year that you created something, and give yourself credit for those ideas. Whether or not it worked, you imagined it, you created it. Give it the value it deserves. Because YOU did it, it has value.
Re-focus on the now and find balance
I know I’ve written before about living in the moment, but it’s always worth repeating – especially if you’re anything like me with a tendency to look for the next step, the next goal, the next challenge. With everything that’s coming up next, it’s easy to lose sight of the now.
Now, I’m not saying that we should never think about the future. Goals are great. I am a big fan of goals. But what happens when you achieve them? Do you immediately look for the next thing? I know sometimes I do. I have worked most of the last 10-12 months towards a giant, scary goal of grad school. I suffered through the GRE, I battled with my inner demons as I found the words to articulate why I even wanted to go down this path, I traveled across the country for interviews, and then, it happened. It’s not just a dream or a possibility anymore. It’s REAL. So now what?
With MAJOR life changes (starting grad school, moving to a new city, living truly on my own for the first time) coming up, no matter what project I am presently working on, at least a small part of my mind is going to be preoccupied with the future. That’s not something I’m going to waste time punishing myself for. But after acknowledging where my brain is, it’s time to move on. Time to press on with the lesson plan, the research, the yoga class, that is right in front of me. One of my life values and giant life goals is balance. For me and my orientation towards planning and the “next,” finding balance requires a re-discovery of the now.
Do you ever find yourself in these uninspired funks? What helps you get out of them?