Driving with no windows

Hello, beautiful people —

I was running on a treadmill yesterday and forgot about time. The treadmill stopped as the session timer ran out; only then I noticed that my legs were shaking.

Jogging, alongside with the pain that comes with it have become comfortable for me, like an old friend who shows up at your door with all their beauty and flaws. I didn’t even bother paying attention — we take old friends for granted.

I felt guilty. I’ve been feeling this way recently with many of my pursuits as they’re becoming a bit way too familiar — I no longer take the time to celebrate the wins or mourn over the losses.

Like driving on a long road without windows, I can’t see how fast I’m moving or whether something might jump out of the bushes and get in my way. I’ve grown better at fighting monsters and hopping over the blocks, but the unnerving silence — how do I cope with that? Hardships, temptations, discoveries, and victories form the shape of a heroic epic, but not the quiet sail on an boundless open water.

I gave myself a diagnosis that I’m undergoing something I coined as the creators’ blue (cheaply inspired by the runner’s blue). It’s different from a creative block, as a creative block can usually be overcome by showing up and keeping at it; creative blue, on the other hand, is a lot more elusive, like fighting off the weight of nonexistence.

I know my feelings are merely a state, and only by breaking down this state into problems I can solve them. I quickly jot down on my notebook some usual suspects:

  1. I don’t short circuit my reward system.

  2. I’m using the wrong metric to measure progress.

  3. I’m not spending enough time talking to others.

  4. I haven’t been venturing out of my comfort zone.

Right next to these problems, I bullet point some solutions.

  1. Celebrate your small wins: get some Oat Milk Cappuccino™️ every time you send out an issue of your newsletter. Indulge yourself with some pointless creative projects.

  2. Switch my metric: it’s not just about consistency and frequency of creating or the number of people that are involved (readers of my writing, users of my product, etc.), but also how my creation is emotionally impacting others, including my friends and family? How do they feel?

  3. Talk to others about my work: I tend to avoid talking about my work because I’m honestly more interested in what other people are working on. But being heads down making stuff can make you oblivious of why you do it in the first place.

  4. About comfort zone: The danger of a routine is that it sometimes eliminates my desire to try out new things… and I think it’s probably healthy to do so. Any recommendations of some unusual experience?

Just by reframing an emotional state into problems to be solved, clarity emerges — what a designer thing to do. Maybe you can try it out too. By the end of the day, I may have been running in place on a treadmill, and all the mileage may be an illusion. But the motion itself is making me stronger.

Stay real,

Tina

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