Being Zen

Creativity 101, Uncategorized, Understanding Creativity

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total Type-A overachiever with a relatively high stress level at most hours of the day (and this includes my stressful dreams!).

This is usually a good thing, especially in college, where I have to juggle between classes, Greek life, my friends, my involvement, job applications, and the never-ending line at Starbucks. The Type-A in me loves spreadsheeting it out– I can fill in tiny boxes that tell me exactly how to make sure I get everything done while still being able to have some fun in between boxes.

This worked well for me until last fall, when I started the PR/advertising program and I realized that being stressed out all the time was causing some major problems for my mental well-being (and, most relevant to my major, my creativity). I was constantly strung out and never quite fulfilled no matter how many things I checked off on my to-do list. And then when my creative assignments started coming in, like print ads and event campaigns, I floundered. Because it’s hard to let go and let yourself be creative when you’re trying to plan out every second of your day so that nothing goes wrong.

I began to ask: Why do I put so much pressure on myself? Why am I my own worst critic when I need to trust myself in order to succeed?

It’s a catch-22: You want to do well, so you’re hard on yourself. But when you’re too hard on yourself, you can’t do well.

Today in class, we did an exercise in which we closed our eyes and imagined our muse appearing before us. After that, we imagined our critic. The critic turned out to be myself. Surprise!

Critical Alex is the voice that has no problem telling me that I’m doing it wrong. It’s the voice that compares me to other people, shouts in protest when I try something new, and- you guessed it- makes the spreadsheets that instruct me how to ensure that I stay on track and make the best use of my time. In fact, the very writing of this blog post is in its own little scheduled box on a spreadsheet. But by practicing relaxation, I can get the voice to stop talking every once in a while so I can actually do what I want to do.

New goal: learn how to meditate more often so I can be more Zen and tell the critic to shit up so the muse can speak up!



One thought on “Being Zen

  1. Oh. So you do do to do lists. I should have read this entry first.

    Yes, creativity requires some “down time” when you can do something relaxing and let your ideas bubble up from the unconscious. Meditation sounds like a plan. You might also consider that since you’re in a creative profession, it’s necessary to make room for relaxation in your schedule. Tell your critic you have to do the meditation and other relaxing activities in order to achieve your goals. Maybe that will help you shut up/shut off the critic.

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