|This really shows how I have progressed as a photographer and how much I learned in the last year.|
"You may call it madness but I call it creative genius"|
I haven't been in the arts for a while and won't dare call myself an artist by any form but I am a person who would like to be. I am teaching myself photography, rediscovering writing and finding the joys of simply drawings. I hope in time my skills will improve to the point where I can call myself an artist but for now I am simply a student that wants to learn.
There is one common action that every person I have ever met has done once to many often is burning themselves out. One would think that a creative person does not have to worry about that but the reality they have to worry about it more. Even academics have to worry about burning themselves out. As a society, we mainly focus on going beyond our physical limits and burning ourselves out at the gym or even with manual labour. People can mentally and emotionally burn themselves out as well especially if they are trying to carry out multiple tasks at once. Occasionally, they may burn themselves out so badly what was once pleasurable to do become a chore. It is even possible that our creative/academic efforts will become the source of all the stress in our lives if we are not careful.
I know this from person experience this past summer. I was trying to rapidly finish my bachelor, start a new job and still be creative on some level. As you can imagine from the previous paragraph it did not end so well. As I have previous wrote about last post I always thought if I properly managed, my time I could get everything carried out but I rapidly found that not to be true. With the stress of starting a new job, dealing with a compressed course and a team project that was slowly doing down the drain I quickly became overwhelmed. It put me to the brink of a mental break down and the stress may have in fact cost me the job I was struggling to keep. I literally lost interest in everything; writing, school, and even photography. I adopted a bad behavior of avoiding everything and dived into gaming, which gave me the illusion of control over my life. It only made the situation worse.
Gaming only made me fall further behind with my one courses and did not help improve my mood at all. As I slowly became more burned-out the more I wanted to hide from the world that only resulted in me becoming more stressed. It was an endless cycle and something had to break and in the end it was me. I fully admit that I had a mental break down resulting from all the deadlines work, school and personally commitments. I mentally and emotionally shut down which took over a month to recover from. Such burnouts is possible for any individual no matter what field they are in but it happens to creative and academics more often than not.
I believe this is because we are protectionists and see what we produce as a reflection of ourselves. Because we see our work as a reflection of ourselves we want it to be perfect, we need it to be perfect. For if, it is not perfect, than there has to be a flaw with us and for most of use that cannot be allowed. This mind-set that will result in mental and sometimes physical burn out. Now recovering from such mental strain can take a great deal of time and it's different for each person. For me I am still recovering from my mental breakdown from June 2014 as I write this. I have made some great strive in my recovery. I have started to write again and have picked up my camera again but I am not fully there yet.
One of the hardest part with burning out is allowing ourselves recover properly. It takes a great deal of time to recover from a depressive episode and those recoveries take many different forms. Some would suggest to get back to what you loved doing such as old hobbies or old passions but that isn’t always the easiest task to do. For some of us we see them as symbols of past struggles and depression that we may never do them again. I have heard of one or more artist losing interest in their craft because of this. However, enduring those thought and continuing where you left off is vital for the healing process; one just has to be careful not to repeat past mistakes. One has to understand their personal limits and be careful about how much they take on at one time.
For me it is focusing on my job performance at my current job. It is in a different field than I am used to so there is a fair bit of a learning curve to it. However, it is not the position I want but I need to keep this job to be able to pay my bill and other expenses. It does not mean I won’t continue my search I just have to do it on my spare time and as the chances arises. I removed myself from my Capstone group, which means I need to complete the assignment on my own in a decent amount of time. Now I don’t have to worry about covering for teammates and their lack of progression in the assignment. I can now work at my own pace as long as I am making progress every month and have something to present to the chairs of my programs. If I am smart about it all I should be able to carry out the Capstone, keep my performance up at work and slightly indulge in my creative projects. One I am done my Capstone I will spend more time on my personal projects.
Another aspect I have to keep in mind is making sure I have down time where I am allowed to relax. Previously I didn’t allow myself downtown to the point the point I felt guilty if I took a night off and played some games to relax or spend a night with some friends. We need break from whatever we are doing and if we don’t we will sooner or later just lose focus. Right now I am taking a break from work to write this and relax from my training at work. In the coming days I will use my lunch hours to write, sketch or work on either my person project or Capstone. I think this way I won’t burn out and will still be able to carry out everything I want to. This is only a preliminary plan for the rest of this year. I now know that I may not be able to do everything I want and I will have to pick what to put off and what has to be done. The only two priorities now is my Capstone and my performance at work so those two are my priorities. Everything else can be moved or reschedule to allow my self a break or a change of pace.
The primary goal is not to burn out this time around and dive in a deep depression. That means being careful of my emotional state and understand that I can be mentally and emotionally tired from everything I am doing. I know when I am physically tired but I have to build an awareness of my mental and emotional state as I move forward. This will take some time understand but vital to know. Without understanding my mental and emotional limits, I risk burning out again and that is something I can’t afford to do. I believe we have to be aware of the risk of burning ourselves out and know that if we are careful we don’t have to.