Hi, all! This is going to be a heavier topic than usual today. You've been warned
For some time I've been debating within myself what kind of presence I would like to be to my very few
(oh so beloved) fans, or at least how I would like to present myself on the internet.
If anyone has seen that episode of "How I Met Your Mother"
where Ted is vacillating between cool bro and strict disciplinarian for his teaching style, then you would know what I'm talking about.
In a similar fashion, I've been vacillating between "positive professional who only posts about her projects and never brings drama to the table" and "super vulnerable human artist who posts about her pitfalls and failures as a means of relating to and helping my fellow creators."
In retrospect, my last emotional musing ("What Happened to Eros and Psyche?"
) was not only an outpouring of emotion and an admission of failure, but a plan for success that helped other artists coping with the very same obstacles who later approached me to tell me so. I was told that by admitting what other artists were already experiencing, the concept of self-imposed deadlines and rushed stories, I had made it ok for others to admit it and refocus. Though I touched merely a few, it felt good to know that my failure was still a success in that way.
And now, here I sit, fingers at the keyboard, mustering up the courage to accept myself for the open book that I am and share with you another admission
And no, not in a fleeting, melancholy way, like a passing mood. And no, not for any one identifiable reason. It's a LOT of little things really... But it all adds up, and at the end of the day I have spent 4-6 hours a day for the past 13 months since recognizing my last failure on the internet and in front of a TV being unproductive and hardly drawing at all.
With the start of this year it has only worsened, as some serious issues in my personal life (which I will keep private) have popped up. I have been dealing with those issues, but the sadness and the disappointment in my own stagnation still lingers. And every step I take feels two steps behind. And for every hour of drawing, there are up to 8 hours of lying around in my pajamas without even the energy to want to feed myself. It's pretty bad, folks.
So I've got a few choices here
I can keep walking the downward spiral until it implodes and all the things I love cease to bring me joy (like drawing), OR I can start asking myself some tough questions.First question
What am I depressed about?
Basically, everything seems so far out of my reach and so hard. Every time I clean a mess in my house, there are more messes to clean. Every time I hit the gym, there will always be maintenance to be had. Every time my husband and I work on an issue, it uncovers more things to discuss. And most disheartening of all, every time I complete a drawing, the more study I realize I have to do. And the more studying I do, the more work I realize needs be put in. And the more work that I put in, the more I realize that I am not where I want to be. And when I realize I'm not at all where I want to be, I begin to resent my art for making me feel bad. And when I resent my art, I don't draw.Okay
I know life is work. It's not the destination, it's the journey. There isn't some finish line to cross or trophy to covet and display that says I've sufficiently cleaned my house, reached my goal weight, mastered my relationship, or become a great artist. I know this. So what am I still going on about?
Sometimes it's just hard to see the point if the work never ends.Third question
Have I just lost sight of living in the now and enjoying the journey, enjoying the work?
I really think so. When I keep my house the way I like it, I am proud and comfortable. When I go to the gym, I feel fantastic for the rest of the day. When I'm on the same page in my relationships, I am so much happier having that understanding and strengthening that bond. And when I draw every day, I feel accomplished, energized, excited, and want to tell my stories even more.Fourth question
So why have I been stopping myself? Why do I say "can't" or "didn't" more than I say "will" or "have"?
Eh, the usual artist crap, the self-scrutinizing pity run amuck. Also, to be honest, distractions. The biggest culprit of all would be The Internet. I could go on about recent studies that social media causes depression, but I won't. Fact is my depression stems from procrastination. I'm getting older and my peers are getting younger. With every day that I don't buckle down and study, I find myself further behind with more to learn and refine and finishing my comic seems like it will never happen. Every day I don't accomplish something because I just keep reaching for those little rewards of "likes" or minor giggle-worthy gifs, I feel like a failure. So I further distract myself from failure, and round and round it goes. I'm finally sick of it.Fifth question
What are you going to do about it?
Well, only two things to do: Get off the internet and start doing something productive. This post would mark my first REAL attempt at doing so. I read an article this morning [link]
that talked about going on a "social media diet." This doesn't mean no internet, no connection to the outside world, or deleting my Facebook. This just means taking a step back and focusing more on my enrichment, my relationships, my feelings, and experiencing the world around me without feeling the need to post or tweet about it. This means prioritizing what I think of me instead of what others think of me. This means breaking the addiction to every minor validation I get when receiving a "like", "reblog", "fav", or "note."
While I am allowed to be grateful for being liked and having support, I need to do something other than just cycling through the same 5 sites, hoping for updates. I've talked a good game for long enough about how I "want to study" and am "working on improving", but I actually need do it.Because no one is taking me seriously, not even myself.
And when you don't even want to get up to feed yourself, much less work, read, or draw, then the cycle has already gone on FAR too long.
When I paid off all my debts and my husband finally forced me to quit my job to pursue art over a year and half ago, I was the happiest I could be. We even threw a little party. I didn't expect anyone to bring gifts, but a few of my sweet buds did anyway.
My dear friend, Amber
, gave me a little frame with this image in it:
It's by an artist named Tracy Butler, who you may know from the webcomic "Lackadaisy"
from her post on "Making Comics." This is Step 4 in her process.
Put a laptop opened up to Facebook in there and that's pretty much me, bitey cat and all.
After recognizing this inevitable part of the process, Amber looked me square in the eyes and said firmly, "Just remember to get to Step 5."
I'm sorry. I got stuck. Going to close the browser now and start doing just that. I now realize that it's just too painful not to.skin by *asquick / edited by *SarahRStraub