This article was posted by a handful of people I know from college. I met them all in the theater program at Ohio State, one of them was my “sound design maven.” To this day, one of my favorite people, even though we rarely talk. They are all still working in theater, producing shows, and having successful careers.
Can I say I envy them? Because part of me does. There was a time in my life, a time when I was… absorbed in creativity. The all too familiar phrase “I can’t… I have rehearsal!” was uttered so many times, and as a result, my world, my circle of friends, it became smaller. And more intimate. And intenser. But I did not feel SOLID. Happy? Sometimes. Drunk? A lot of the times. Fulfilled? When I was producing work I was proud of, sure. When I was stressed, though, I was really stressed. I made myself ill, I couldn’t eat, I was not sleeping, and I still would not say ‘no’. To another project, to another fundraiser, to another thing. But I could say ‘no’ to dinner plans, to house parties, to dates, unless it was ‘after my show.’
And then? I stopped feeling fulfilled. I was burnt out. I was not creating the art, I was selling tickets to the art. The work I was doing became a chore. And I was saying ‘no’ to EVERYTHING. No, I will just turtle away to my studio. No, I can’t tonight. No, sorry, I’m broke. No, sorry, I’m staying in. No. No. No.
Somehow in this, I landed in grad school. I started getting interested in other things. I figured out I was GOOD at this. That the things I was perhaps failing at in creativity, I was channeling in other ways. And then, guess what? I started saying ‘Yes’ to school, to activities, to fundraisers, to outings, to new friends, and lo and behold, NO crept back in too. No, I have to write a paper. No, I have a student org meeting. No. No. No.
I am now almost exactly 3 years in to my career. The reason I’m writing this today is that suddenly I realize that I might actually need something in my life that I care about enough to say ‘no’ for. My job is going well, I am finding opportunities to challenge myself with. I am fulfilled when things go well, frustrated when they go poorly, but overall I can’t complain too much. My day ends after 8 hours and for the most part, I leave things at the office.
My greatest fear is that somewhere along the line, i stopped being a ‘creative person’. What does this mean for me, and where do I go from here? How do I find that self again?