Sometimes a break is exactly what I don’t know I need.
I’ve been writing for eleven years. It basically kept me sane through high school and college, but it also consumed me. I lived, breathed, slept everything books and writing. Then I had a extremely difficult term of grad school that made me question myself and my writing. It made me wonder if I was where I was supposed to be. And for the first time in a long, long time?
I stopped writing.
For the past six months I’ve hardly written anything creative, and if I’m being honest, I’m still struggling to get my motivation back. But there are some lessons I’ve learned during this unplanned break. College was one of the most productive times of my life so far. I drafted two novels, read countless books, and kept up with coursework, but I didn’t take the time to really take care of myself. I was in a constant state of motion, and it kept me distracted.
After having my confidence totally stripped away after that disastrous term of grad school, I lost any desire to write, and I felt so guilty about it. I’d dedicated so much of my life to writing, and I began to wonder if it had all been a waste. I told myself to get over it. A tiny voice in my head kept mocking me, “If you really loved writing then you would push through it,” but that made my struggle even worse. I couldn’t get around it.
Then without really meaning to, I began to focus on other things. I began learning Chinese on Duolingo, I discovered k-pop and embraced it wholeheartedly, and I made an effort to give TLC to my poor acne-prone skin. Other than my job at a library and keeping up with schoolwork, I let myself experiment and have some fun. I gave myself permission to learn more about myself, my other interests, and the world around me.
I discovered that writing was a shield that I hid behind, and it was only when that shield disappeared for little while that I was forced to find out who I was without it. And I’m still trying to figure that out.
I’m not giving up writing. It’s too much a part of me, but I’m taking it easy on myself. Working on my grad school project is difficult, and my creativity feels hindered because I want my mentor to give me a passing grade. There are some projects I’ve let myself start to think about, even if just to remind myself that I do actually enjoy storytelling, but other than that, writing is not my top priority at the moment.
It's easy to get caught up in the mindset of hustle hustle hustle or else risk falling behind, but there's an even greater risk of losing sight of the original goal. When I envisioned my future two years ago, this wasn’t what I saw, but that’s okay. This break has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate my priorities and consider how I want to develop myself as a creative, as a writer, and, even more importantly, as a person.