I have a deep-seated fear of pigeonholing myself. Easily attributed to the buoyant ‘find your passion’ credo of my naively optimistic parents, coupled with my fear of commitment (thank you ex-boyfriends), along with a healthy side of indecisiveness.
I wasn’t always on the path to rampant job insecurity and unwavering freelance fortitude. Believe it or not, I once held a job in ‘marketing’. Original, right? Unbeknownst to me, an obsession with editing a pitch deck for a limited-edition pastel guitar foreshadowed the acute Adobe addiction in my future. Like so many of my peers, I foolishly traded the pedestrian path ordained by my liberal arts degree for a claim to vocational art.
At this point, my lexicon of career titles includes Designer, Stylist Assistant, Unpaid Intern, and Willing Servant- if the right person asks.
Alas, even before our worlds began to unravel, a common theme of instability and ambivalence already permeated my life, but this wavering schedule and aptitude for juggling created a stable footing to set my creativity ablaze.
This Saturday morning marked my one month anniversary of moving back in with my parents. I’m adjusting, or trying to adjust to this new routine of bickering with my 60 year-old roommates, staying up late video chatting with friends, and experiencing a moodiness that feels all too familiar from my teenage years.
Parallels to the treachery of middle school seem obvious. Although, the fear of using the wrong pencil on a Scantron test is no match for the gravity that my career struggles hold. I was laid off, had a new freelance gig politely paused, and found that any timeline for employment elsewhere evaporated. In a future rife with unknowns, there’s one thing I’m pretty sure of: being a “freelance fashion assistant” is not going to be lucrative in whatever new reality emerges.
With the art of pivoting ceremonious to my scattered resume, being met with a dumbfounded inability to create has left me melancholy, spellbound in self doubt, and with a desire to make sense of such ineptitude to produce content during this time.
I have summed up my current stunted creativity to a combination of physical change and intangible loss, driven by a heavy hand of perspective. Residing in the unwavering home I have known for all of my twenty-four years may be comforting, but I find myself mourning the loss of new stimulation. Walks around the neighborhood are no longer reinvigorated by wafts of hot pretzel. Nor is my imagination charged by a fear of subway rats. Whether you are back in your childhood home like me or confined to your 400 square foot apartment, the challenge presented is to create newness in a space that screams sameness. With worlds shrunken to match the size of our Brooklyn bedrooms and opportunities for inspiration stunted, creativity burnout locks us into the chamber of our own minds. Not a word or drawing permitted to escape. The internet is no match for subway performers, side eye glances from the bodega cat, or what metaphorically (or literally) hits you in one city block. Inspiration becomes something to be sought out, no longer a serendipitous benefit.
In opposition to the quiet, unwavering physical space, my internal voice screams at the top of its lungs. When the world weighs heavy with life and death problems, how dare I be plagued by my lack of creative energy, finding my chosen profession peering over the summit of Maslow’s pyramid. Lying awake apprehensive of my unfulfilled imagined potential feels trivial. And yet, suppressing these worries only showcases my lack of mindfulness.
Whether grieving the loss of a loved one, a job or a formerly vibrant social life, we’re all coming face to face with loss carefully camouflaged as change. When ranked in perceived order of importance, dismissing these feelings as simple privilege is an obvious diagnosis. But we are complex, emotionally driven creatures, or so I would like to think. Acknowledging personal hardships, even when they appear minor, does not diminish the hardships of others.
Friends afraid to voice their concerns, sending texts riddled with reminders about ‘perspective’ and ‘not complaining’ deny the existence of some very real emotion. ‘Fine’ is a threadbare response to a heartfelt check in. Even worse are the messages of inconsolable competitive victimization, riddled with altruistic statements that open with ‘at least’. Unknown to some, gratitude and worry are not mutually exclusive.
Maybe trauma and loss aren’t the perfect breeding grounds for your next novel. But if I have learned anything in these past few weeks in order to create and progress we must not deny ourselves the ability to feel. Adjusting to a world where walking to the kitchen feels like navigating a minefield of triggers posing the threat of complacent nostalgia is no simple feat. But, like the resilient New Yorkers (we like to think) we are, we adapt. And move on.
If, like me, you’re still having trouble accessing those creative instincts, you can always follow the sourdough starter directions lurking in every corner of the internet.
Get to know Abigail better, @hirschabby for all her latest fashion endeavours.