I’m back! This past month, got a few (eight—unprecedented!) days off from work, did some light traveling, and came back with a clear head. For so long, I’d been weighed down by constant work to be done, fatigue, and overall feelings of un-wellness that I thought I could outrun by doing more. That didn’t work lol. But what did work was taking a little break from all of that stress. Though, it did also create a whole separate issue.
BUT FIRST, the trip!
Every year, my extended family holds a reunion, and this year it was in the San Diego area. This is one of the highlights of my year, not only because it’s an excuse to take off from work, but also because my family is kind of great?? It’s always a week of little stress and even less sleep, but that’s okay. This year, it arrived at the perfect time, right when I needed to get away from the toxic people in my life and surround myself with the opposite.
The following week, I went back to San Diego, but this time, it was for another annual event—Comic-Con! This is easily my favorite thing that I do all year, and this time did not disappoint. We got to see friends, buy a lot of cool (Peanuts!) stuff, and meet new friends. And—this was extremely special—we got to reconnect with Leonard Maltin. In addition to being a fantastic film critic, he’s also an adjunct professor at USC, where my partner and I met. In our senior year, we both took Mr. Maltin’s film symposium class, and long story short, that’s why we’re together today. That, plus listening to a handful of my favorite creatives talk about their work, left me feeling excited to tackle all of my projects I’d left behind. I was SO ready.
However, I came back to find that I was not faced with a different problem. Apparently, a clear head and happiness are maybe not as conducive to making sad girl things as I’d have liked. I’d been so used to being inspired by being sad, looking sad, and acting sad. It’s kind of my thing. To not by consumed by negative feelings was a weird thing. I felt that I lacked inspiration to make things I wanted to make. I was emotionally content, sure, but not content with the lack of emo girl work being produced.
So, I sat for long periods of time. I watched the news and waited to feel sad about the decline of the country, but felt more inspired to create change. I scrolled through my IG feed, looking to feel both jealous and disgusted at the amount of superficial frenemies I choose to surround myself with, but I ended up just shrugging it off. I sought out toxic people on social media to look for reasons to be upset, but ended up coming to the conclusion that we are all just people who want the best for ourselves and our loved ones, even if some people are, like, dumb af. Like, who am I? Who is this calm adult that doesn’t pick fights and call idiots out? I was getting frustrated with myself because, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t find it in me to be bothered. And thus, I didn’t feel that seething, “I hate the world” drive to make the kind of work I’m so used to putting out.
So, I sat again. I thought about what was stopping me, exactly. I’d been so used to taking my negative energy and channeling it into something else that I’d made it seem impossible to produce work any other way. Now that these feelings and the immediacy were gone, I felt stuck. As a person that has relied on emo tendencies to get shit done for the past 15 years, I felt like I suddenly didn’t have anything to talk about.
But the thing is, those feelings don’t just disappear. I still remember writing sad poems about getting threatened by a bully in seventh grade because I talked to her scene kid crush on Myspace. I can recall every time I’d accidentally read the comments section and cried because people are actually evil, especially when they’re on the internet and anonymous. And in the future, I’m still going to face rejection that makes me question my career choice and entire existence. The feelings will always be there. My inner emo kid is always here and accessible, even if I’m currently not feeling sad and lonely and disappointed and like I want to scream into a microphone about death and/or heartbreak.
The past couple weeks, I’ve been looking for new inspiration that doesn’t require that I feel like the world is ending. I’ve been walking a lot. I’ve been exploring the idea of compassion and how to make it cool. I’ve been watching Sailor Moon. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be sad to write sad things. Sure, it’s easier to make things when I’m hurting. And no, this doesn’t mean that I must suffer to get things done. But damn, I do like being dramatic.