Creative Exhaustion

Balancing acts as a part-time creative can be quite difficult to pull off. After successfully pushing through several projects in the past few months, I found myself in a state of creative exhaustion. It seemed as though juggling a full-time job, personal responsibilities, and my various fashion ventures was really starting to catch up with me. I’d put my brain through so much that the creative powerhouse decided to shut down and leave me in a panic. I couldn’t conceptualize at all.

As someone who feels an unexplainable sense of fulfillment and joy in accomplishing her goals, I started to feel afraid. The self-doubt monster crept in and I questioned whether or not I was truly capable of being the independent superwoman that I wanted so badly to be. All I could think about was how much my hard work would suffer if I stopped being consistent. I just felt as though I couldn’t take a break. Even if I decided to, where would I find the time?

Since wrapping our last big shoot a few weeks ago, I had been struggling to motivate myself to create. My passion started to feel like a chore, like something I had to do instead of something that I loved to do, and I was incredibly disappointed in myself for allowing that to happen.

Wary of the future commitments I’d made, I knew that I would have to find a way to snap out of it in order to put my best foot forward. I could not bear to face our clients and collaborators without a sense of confidence; I needed to put on my brave face and just get the job done.

We had two shoots scheduled for the weekend. The first, a collaboration between friends/ creatives for the launch of a new clothing line, and the second, a conceptual portrait shoot for a local creative. I can’t tell you how many times I thought of backing out. I was just looking for any excuse to run away out of the fear that I would not be able to do my best, with this giant cloud of doom and gloom hanging over me. I had never felt so unprepared.

Going into the first shoot, we had a clear idea of what the client wanted to portray, but for some reason I still felt a wave of crippling anxiety come over me. However, just as quickly as it set in, it vanished. The good vibes were contagious. Surrounded by nature, positivity, mutual respect and authenticity, I found it extremely difficult to keep the smile off of my face. We spent the afternoon driving through the hills, ole-talking, laughing and playing the fool (and working! I promise we did the work). This was far from a chore! It was an adventure! I started to feel like my old self again, and as soon as Elena and I saw the photos we breathed a huge sigh of relief. They were perfect.

Photos by Elena Marquez

The following day was my shoot with Maya. While we had discussed the shoot several times before, I was still so nervous about it. I knew that this series would be particularly challenging for me styling-wise, so I felt scared of falling short and disappointing everyone, including myself. I was surprised that despite having such an inspired Saturday, my mental block was still up, and I was STILL unable to conceptualize the looks. I mean, we had tons of inspo photos, but I was fully responsible for finding a way to execute “the look” through sourcing the right pieces.

Pieces, pics, and anxiety in hand, I walked in to Maya’s house on Sunday afternoon. I took a deep breath and tried to think of the best way to approach it. Out of all the looks, there was only one that I was sure of, so I decided to start there. While preparing the first look, I could feel the creative gears turning slowly. One by one the other looks started coming to me. I felt this invigorating jolt of energy rush through me as I stood, waiting to see the first set of images. They were beautiful. Joy filled my heart, and peace and confidence filled my mind. I was ready to power through it.

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Photo by Marlon James

The next few looks fell together seamlessly. With Maya’s open, artistic mind, and Marlon’s expert eye, we were able to accomplish a shoot that I am now so incredibly proud of. It was a dream. Having that true creative freedom was liberating. It ended up being the breath of fresh air that I didn’t even know I needed. I went home that night feeling recharged and HAPPY, having being reminded of why I sacrificed and continue to sacrifice all that I have to be in here in the first place.

Styling is my passion. It is my love. Everything that I am doing right now no matter how difficult, is centered around being able to do what I love, in the Caribbean that I love, surrounded by the people that I love.

Photos by Marlon James

This is not the first time I’ve experienced creative withdrawal, and I know it won’t be the last. On my quest for achieving stability and balance through all aspects of my life, it’s only expected that challenges will arise. However, after experiencing all that I have over the past few months and successfully overcoming it, I do feel better prepared for future curveballs and would like to offer a bit of advice to my fellow creatives.

1. Make time for yourself. You deserve a breather. We all know how hard the industry can be. Every now and again put things on pause and spend a day or a weekend regrouping and just relaxing. Don’t give it the opportunity to exhaust or overwhelm you.

2. Do shoots that challenge you to try new things. While they might be intimidating, those are the shoots that will foster the most growth and development.

3. Constantly remind yourself of the reason you chose to be on this creative path. You’re here for a reason, so allow that reason to motivate you and keep pushing you to  do better.

4. Keep your creative goals in check. All creatives have different goals in mind. So while nothing is wrong with collaborating, ensure to make each collaboration worth YOUR while. The only person who can truly seek your best interest is you.

5. Do at least one selfish project per month. In this age of social media we often create content that we think people will want to see, or things we think they will like instead of focusing our time and energy into projects that we actually want to do. Make yourself a project wish list, and promise yourself to execute at least one per month. There’s nothing better or more fulfilling than being able to focus all of your attention on you.

Hopefully these tips can help save some of you from experiencing creative exhaustion, or help guide you out of it if that’s where you are now. For us creatives, our minds are our money, so let’s take care of ourselves so that we can continue to do what we love and feel good about doing it!

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Photo by Marlon James