I have a feeling I am not alone when I say that I feel, irrelevant.
Like many, I am on hold. My job and livelihood have been deemed, non-essential and therefore, I find myself sitting on my bed most days, drinking a coffee, writing to clear space in my brain and saving all sorts of images on Pinterest. Images of recipes to try, movie quotes and interior spaces I’d like to live in. The day is filled with coming up with activities to fill the time. I read a book, maybe bake some cookies, counteract that with a workout, more Pinterest, way too much Instagram and patiently wait for the three socially acceptable meal times throughout the day.
The world will always value the arts. People will always create and while not exactly essential right now, there is an escape we all feel and are grateful exists and that is because of the artists.
However, I can’t help but feel irrelevant.
I don’t really associate myself with the artist category, nor do I fit the criteria for saving and contributing to humanity like the nurses and politicians. So I think there must be a few of us, questioning our chosen careers during this current pandemic.
I have no resolve here, no advice or resolution for this feeling. But I think it’s important to let feelings sit with you for a while. Allow them to make you feel a bit uncomfortable and uneasy. Keep it unresolved and let them linger. Sit with the sour taste in your mouth and savour the questions that come out of it.
I think it’s a natural instinct, to want to contribute and be part of the solution in any way we can or know how. And realising you have no skills to contribute for this particular pandemic, may have you also feeling irrelevant. And while sounding somewhat selfless, it can also be a little narcissistic no? To think that maybe things could be better if you had become an epidemiologist instead of <insert your irrelevant and non essential job here>. Because your impact would make such a difference because it’s you.
I laugh as I write this because I think of the story of the kid who wanted to try save the starfish on the shore. Google it if you don’t know it.
It talks about the importance of making a difference, even just for the one.
I’m not trying to say you can’t make a difference with the little you have or know, or that you have an inflated sense of self if you think you actually can, I just like to type things as they come into my head and then hope that I can make sense of some of it after.
Perhaps we will come out of this with thousands of new sign ups for the army and an influx of medical students.
But most definitely, some really good non- essential albums and books too.
To commence a post with no purpose, no concept, no subject, is both a risky and reckless move. There is a chance it will turn to ramblings, lost metaphors and symbolism so deep that it doesn’t even make sense.
But there is also a possibility, that in writing to release tension, anxiety and boredom, with no agenda, rules or subject and therefore no measurable’s, that it invites creativity. That it becomes the process and not the outcome that is therapeutic.
Something I have realised many times before, but most recently since being in isolation/quarantine/lockdown, is the expectation we put on ourselves for achieving greatness. We are encouraged to use this time to better ourselves, and I wouldn’t be the first person to challenge that. However is anyone else relating to a fear of failure in attempting these new creative hobbies that we have all now acquired time to attempt? .
I could list off endless ways of how I would ideally love to fill my time. I would bake bread, make fresh pasta, paint, sew a new outfit, learn French (finally), do pilates and spend time learning a new song on the guitar. But unfortunately, these are all activities that I happen to kind of suck at, measured by my comparisons on instagram of course.
When someone shares their , “isolation painting afternoon”, or a “freshly baked focaccia”, there’s a part of me that thinks, why bother. I know it will turn out shitty, I won’t be able to share anything (even though that was not the purpose… however we all know if I were happy with the outcome I would have), and knowing the result will not be what I had desired or imagined, it takes the fun out of the process.
How many of us have performance anxiety, or feel like we are too uncertain if we will be good at something, so we don’t try. Because it will only be an enjoyable activity if we succeed. And if we fail, by our standards, or the standards of others, we put that hobby, that dream, into a box labelled, “not for me”..
Sure, there’s some things you may just never enjoy. But if you removed the fear of failing, the expectation of succeeding and immersed yourself in the process itself, would it entice you to try something new?
I sat down recently to paint. I discovered while cleaning my old room in my parents house, that I still had some paints and paintbrushes, so decided to give it a go. It was horrible. The painting sucked. My 5 year old niece could have created something better and I could feel the awkwardness from my parents as they looked over my shoulder and also realised, it sucked..
I felt the need to justify myself, “it’s the base coat”, “I’m not finished just yet”, and these probably stemmed from my own childhood problems that I’ll spare for now. However I realised in this moment, that I didn’t fucking care. The purpose was to fill a few hours, listen to music, and play with some paints. The fact that it turned out shit, was secondary to my primary goal, which was to enjoy my time.
I feel better already writing this, because like I said, this was about the process and not the outcome. So if you don’t like this, or you think it’s kinda shit. I don’t really care. I enjoyed it. :)
I added the video of Scarlett from the film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, talking sincerely about her desire to express herself, but feeling like she is not gifted to be able to do so, for the relatable feels. And also the song, Free Your Mind, by En Vogue from 1992 because it came to mind after I read over this and I think it always puts you in a good mood.