My mood has shifted this week. As frustrating as it is, it hasn’t come as a surprise: we’ve been in lockdown for almost a month now and it couldn’t all be sunshine and rainbows forever. It felt easy at first – I’m used to working from home, we don’t have kids to entertain all day or to homeschool, and our pup is pretty low maintenance. Without my job at the coffee shop, I eased into a routine very quickly and, yes — I felt surprisingly motivated. I started mapping my days out with to-do lists, took a few webinars and focused quite a lot on Little Fictions; treated myself to a nice pair of headphones to make sharing the office space with Matt more manageable; and made a point of taking Oscar on a good walk every day to get away from computers and phone screens, and to enjoy the glorious weather we’ve been having.
It felt really exciting spending so much time thinking about my business, tweaking my website and learning more about online marketing… but without actual work to do, events to shoot and photos to edit, there was only going to be so much I could do before losing momentum.

And it’s fine, it’s absolutely fine! Life isn’t a flat, straight line. There’s a time to get on with things and a time to do whatever brings you peace and joy – and they’re all a bit muddled up together at the moment, which is a little confusing. It’s no longer weekdays vs weekend, or workplace vs home. It’s everything all at once.

I find social media very good at two things these days: validating your feelings and making you feel completely inadequate at the same time. It’s either “it’s perfectly okay if you’re not doing anything these days, don’t let the productivity freaks tell you otherwise”, or “if you’re not using this time to write 394 songs and launch 6 side businesses, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline”. There have been a few times where I’ve felt guilty for keeping myself busy. Am I denial? Am I making my friends feel bad about themselves? Should I… not be working? And then, there have been times where I’ve felt guilty for reading a book or playing video games while Matt was in the other room getting on with his mixing. You can’t win. Whatever you do, you’re always going to wonder if it’s the right thing, and I find this feeling exacerbated by the fact that, well, we have a lot of time for overthinking now. Besides, the Internet has become our main point of contact with the rest of the world, and it is shouting at us more loudly than usual.

As a reminder, some people over function, busy themselves, & complete tasks when facing trauma, grief, anxiety, powerlessness. Some people under function, slow down, internalise, & need rest. Both are valid & respectable. Neither is right or wrong. — Paula D. Atkinson

Like I said, my mood shifted this week and my initial reaction was to fight it. It felt like if I allowed myself to be cranky and anxious, or if I did not force myself to sit at my desk every day, I would never snap out of it. Spoiler: it didn’t help, it made me feel even more down. So I tried embracing it instead. Don’t feel like looking at my to-do list? That’s fine, I’ll just read or spend an entire afternoon messing around in Photoshop. Don’t feel like going out? No problem, Matt can take the dog out today, and we’ll go on a walk together tomorrow.

I admire people who can set a routine and stick with it. To me, routine is great, but it needs readjusting from time to time otherwise it becomes suffocating. And so instead of putting 3 items on my to do list every morning, these day I only write one down – if I get anything more done, it’s a bonus. I’ve turned off notifications for Instagram and Facebook, because I really don’t need to read and reply to every single message straight away. Instead of browsing pages and pages of marketing blogs and going crazy over my website’s SEO, I read fiction, and write, and daydream, and I try to bring creativity back into my life a little bit. Because I realised that this is what I was missing – too much time spent thinking about the business of photography, and not enough time actually using my camera.

I don’t really know where I was going with all this, so sorry if it doesn’t make any sense at all. I guess what I’m trying to say is, only you can tell what feels right to you right now. So don’t buy into all the positive affirmations and productivity hacks that pop up on your screen, and please, please don’t compare yourself to anyone, because we’re all dealing with this differently. We can only take it one day at a time. I know everyone and everything is telling you to look after your friends, check up on people and all that, and rightly so… but don’t forget to look after yourself first.

Take care,
Em x

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