Here I share my story on how I rediscovered my creativity after years of anxiety. Reigniting my creativity and finding my voice again has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. Keep reading to learn how I pushed past fear to start living a more creative life!
Trusting my gut
I’ve always believed in following my “hunches” – you know, those little nudges in your gut that most of the time make no sense and go against every ounce of logic that you have? Yeah, those. I love those. I’ve learned that even when they don’t seemingly make ANY sense to me, or if I’m really really afraid of them, that they’re more often than not…100% correct.
I kept getting hunches recently that I needed to push myself to do something new. I’m a pretty by-the-books person and I’ve basically been in school for 26 years, so most of my free time has been taken up with class readings, essays, and homework assignments. I don’t regret any of it – I’m a shameless nerd who LOVES school – but now that I’m finally done with my higher education, I’ve been able to explore my “side” passions with more focus and energy than ever before.
My struggle with anxiety
I have a lot of different things I love to do and that make me happy, but it has been hard work to cultivate them over the years. I struggle with anxiety and was just born as one of those people who constantly sees the worst-case scenario. That mindset led me to ultimately always be on time, super prepared, and a major overachiever, which works well in school (now are you getting why I love school so much? ha) but was wreaking havoc in other areas of my life.
My anxious tendencies crescendo-ed when I graduated from college. In college, my lifelong dream of becoming a famous bestselling author (realistic, right?) came crashing down around me as I realized that being an author wasn’t a Big Girl Job and I needed to find something real to do. More importantly and perhaps most sadly for me, I realized that I was just not passionate about creative writing, especially as a full-time gig. I wanted social interaction and I wanted to help people. So I jumped into becoming a high school English teacher.
My anxiety consumed me
Teaching was very, very difficult for me and for many reasons, I knew it wasn’t right from day one. Not knowing what else to do and not wanting to quit my first full-time job so early on, I stuck it out as long as I could. But every day was a battle with my mind, and my anxiety began to consume my life.
I was waking up at 4am every morning unable to go back to sleep because I was dreading getting up for the day. I fantasized about getting sick or even getting in car accidents so I wouldn’t have to go into work. I wasn’t eating healthy because I had no time to prepare meals – I was too busy grading or lesson planning and barely had a social life. My friendships and relationships suffered. I didn’t exercise for 6 months. And because my body was in a constant state of panic, my immune system wore down.
After a year and a half I finally decided enough was enough. I could barely get through a day of work without breaking down into a sobbing mess, and I knew something had to change. Thus began the process of rebuilding my life and my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Reclaiming my health and happiness
I applied to graduate school for higher education to work with college students, something I had loved doing as an undergrad. I started a gratitude journal where I wrote down daily what I was grateful for, and quickly began filling pages and pages a day. I began doing yoga regularly, and building up my cooking skills to make healthy, nourishing foods. I made a commitment to build a meditation and mindfulness practice, which has been one of the most restorative practices for me and really saved me in a lot of ways.
Several years later, and I am in a fulfilling job that I absolutely love. I am grateful for it every single day, because I know what a HUGE impact it has on your quality of life when you hate your job. However, as I’ve been able to spend time outside of work exercising, cooking, listening to podcasts, and reading inspiring books, something still felt missing. “How can something still feel missing if I love my job so much?” I thought.
The creative spark ignites again
And then it came to me. Creativity. The pure joy of creating something and sharing it with the world. I have been a passive consumer of various lifestyle blogs, fitness blogs, self-improvement podcasts and books, adorably styled instagram accounts, and food blogs for years and years now. While I’ve learned a lot from all this content, I wasn’t creating anything myself. I’ve always been a creative person (I think we all are, really) but over the years that desire got lost along the way as I tried to become a Responsible Adult.
“But you’re not creative,” said this voice in my head. “You have nothing to share that anyone wants to listen to. You may like design but you’re not a graphic designer. You may like taking photos but you’re not a photographer. And you may like to write but you’re not a writer. Let the professionals do these things,” it said. And this voice went on and on and on (it had SO many reasons I should not do this!) But I had a hunch (ah, there’s trusty old intuition again!) telling me “No, you ARE creative! And you want to share with the world. SO GO FOR IT!!!!” After a while of internal debating, I decided I should push past the fear and listen to my intuition, because when I do, it tends to be good for me.
So what should I create? When I started to really reflect on how all of my passions connected I realized they all had one thread: the pursuit of wellness – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Now that I’ve had some time to explore these areas (though I am by no means an expert in any of them), I want to help others in their pursuit of wellness as well!
I also want to connect, to learn, to grow, to push myself beyond fear and continue to find wellness in this wild world. I’d love to chat with you about your experiences, too! What are you favorite ways to stay well? What’s one thing you’ve done lately that you conquered despite being afraid?
Thanks so much for reading!