It’s a feeling in my chest that causes me to breathe shallowly and hunch forward as though I am trying to fold into myself. It is a whirlwind in the back of my mind and I feel if I just sit down and draw, then that feeling will prevent me from being successful. I feel that that feeling of stress will squeeze all the energy out of me and leave me with nothing left to use for drawing, or blow me away onto a different task in hopes that the distraction will be enough to calm the whirlwind long enough for me to draw without strings attached.
“I must be productive.” This has become a sort of mantra for me; that if I sit and do nothing “useful” then the time is wasted. However, repeating that mantra to myself over and over again tends to drive me to a point where I am forced to relax in some way or another, whether “that time of the month” or general fatigue. Sometimes I’ve stressed myself to where I got a fever, sometimes to where I gave myself a terrible migraine that crippled me from being “productive” in anything other than rest. Even being forced to rest and relax often produces more stress in me rather than removing it entirely. I end up thinking, “I’m just lying here feeling terrible. I had all *this* I was supposed to do/wanted to do today!” And I get upset at myself and the circumstance, wondering how I let myself make myself stressed again! But I then resign myself to resting and resolve to do better tomorrow, or to catch up tomorrow, or to perhaps go to bed early so I can get up early and get an earlier start on doing what I had wanted to do that day.
But that immediately sets me back in the cycle again.
This isn’t an article on how to fix this problem, so if you were hoping it was, I apologize. This is just a regular blog post I am writing so that I can see this problem laid out in writing. I tend to hide these sorts of problems inside myself, just figuring I can somehow deal with them or conquer them, but obviously I can’t, because I haven’t.
The other big thing for me is finishing things. I want so badly to finish all the unfinished projects, artworks, and programs lying around me! Even though that’s what I want, and I’m extremely specific about it, I think part of the reason I’m not finishing things as I want is because I put so many conditions on myself, which creates stress, which makes me run away from doing those things because of the agitation they create inside me. I start new pictures and new projects, thinking maybe this time I’ll finish them “on time”, but most of the time I don’t!
“On time”…what does that even mean, anyway?!
This means that my focus is not being put on the picture, but on the clock. I’m comparing myself to others thinking I can draw as fast as they do, or faster, and thinking that I’m not stressed when I really am, which allows distractions to pull my attention from the task at hand. Then I end up calling the drawing a “task” and it becomes “work” or a “chore”; a “must-do” rather than something fun that I enjoy. And so, naturally, I decide in my subconscious to ignore it because why would you want to be miserable forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do? Let’s go to YouTube! Or read blogs! Let’s organize things; maybe that will help! Let’s read inspirational things and maybe that will help!
The end of the day comes and I look at that to-do list and want to cry because I’ve done either nothing on it, or one or two things only, and those one-two things are always things like juicing, laundry, or requests made by my parents to do something. “Chores.” Why can I do what my parents want me to do, but not what I want me to do?!
So I promise myself: Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do better tomorrow.
I feel like most of my life I’ve just let people down in that way. I held a contest two years ago and still haven’t finished the prizes. I said I’d translate stuff and never did, or didn’t finish checking translations I was supposed to check. I have graphics requests from two or three years ago I haven’t finished. I still haven’t opened KawaTama auditions. I haven’t drawn things I said I was going to draw. I haven’t done a Livestream yet when months ago I said I would do one “soon”. This artbook I’ve been wanting and trying almost desperately to make is still not done, even after restarting the project (which I must say has been going much more successfully than the previous one, thank you God), I’m not uploading art videos that I for some reason feel obligated to make and upload, I haven’t done blog posts I said I was going to do (they’re still drafts), it’s been over a year since I went to China and got back from China (May-July 2011) and the “China journal” is STILL NOT DONE.
I feel like everyone is watching me, waiting for these things, and wondering what’s taking me so long. “Why,” they say to each other, “is she procrastinating on doing these things? Why doesn’t she just do them? Then things will go smoothly and work the way she wants them, and then we will be happy because we have seen her follow through, and she will be happy because she knows she is giving us what she thinks she has promised us and what she thinks we want.” The thing is…if anyone is watching me and thinking something like that, they are just one person among the many who simply do. Not. Care. But somehow it got into the forefront of my subconscious that there are people watching me and waiting for me to succeed and that I have to live up to those expectations or else I will be useless and a failure. But then, if I can’t even meet my own expectations, am I not just dooming myself to failure anyway?!
I don’t mention these things a lot. Or maybe I do, but I think I often complain about how I’m not yet done with abcdefg but I’m going to start on x and y and hopefully they’ll all work out somehow. I complain about how it’s taken me so long to do something. I give advice on stuff I haven’t even mastered yet.
But I don’t have all the answers, and I think I’ve lived my whole life thinking that I do. I think that if I can help someone somehow, then they can see how to fix their problems and be healed, or that maybe I can at least take some of the burden off of their shoulders. But at the same time I think all I’ve really been trying to do is control everything around me. If I can do it, it won’t be done with mistakes I don’t want to see, because that’s what I’m afraid of. If I can do it, I won’t have to compete with anyone because I’ll have 100% of the shares. If I can do it, the reins will be in my hands and we’ll do this thing my way. I’ll make it easier for you to do things my way by doing everything for you.
Will someone please slap me?
I have never, ever, ever wanted to admit to something like that. But when I really think about it, it’s true. In school, there was one particular instance where my friends were writing a roleplay in a spiral-bound notebook. I asked if I could join, and they said I could. Even though I didn’t intend to take control of it, somehow the notebook ended up staying in my messenger bag, in my classes, with my storyline. My original reason for taking possession of the notebook was so that I could type it in the computer. I don’t really know why I was compelled to do this; it would have been fine without that… Eventually the original writers–the ones who started it to begin with!–didn’t have the time to read all that we (me and some of my friends) had written and didn’t write in it anymore. We started a new notebook and I changed the storyline because I was making positive changes in my life… Then I went home to be homeschooled, and even now I still have those two notebooks. The roleplay is very, very dead, and I don’t even talk to those friends anymore.
Once I took control, it fell apart.
Nightmare Rising is another example of this. Nightmare Rising, or NR for short, is a group project founded online by members of the TMMPowerRPG Forums (TMMP for short), including me. We originally planned it as a Tokyo Mew Mew fanime, but it was eventually changed to an original manga instead. In the beginning, there was a ton of activity. But slowly it started waning as problems started popping up. There were animation problems, and members of the project got too busy to work on it. One day I decided to make a forum just for the project, and moved all the information from TMMP to the new forum. Long story short, after that is where I started to take control, and once again, I NEVER MEANT TO. Good things have definitely happened…we’ve progressed with our plot, characters, and some locations, but… Overall, I think the project is dying again. AGAIN. And every time I sense this, I do a re-haul on the information and forum design. I re-organize info, I delete unnecessary boards and threads, I combine threads and simplify info, I make charts, I make to-do lists, I do everything I can possibly think of to make it easier for everyone else to just insert their info and discuss the plot and stuff, to plan, to ENGAGE, but aside from the occasional response, nothing happens.
Granted, the project was dying when I took control and tried to make it live, so give me some credit for that… But did I just make it worse? Am I expecting too much from everyone else? Or am I expecting too little of them and too much of myself?
But then we arrive at another problem I have. It’s the “chronological order” problem. I line up projects to work on, or in an even small example, pictures to draw (because I’m still working in this mentality that each picture is a task to complete rather than a masterpiece to create), and then I somehow get it in my mind that one must come before another. Like this:
I must finish the China journal before I put focus back onto my artbook.
I must finish my artbook, have it printed, and ready for sale and distribution before I put focus back on Nightmare Rising.
You see how I sound like a business manager? ;_; And do you also see how I’m being illogical by putting those restrictions on myself?
Those “conditions” leave no room for doing TextFugu, writing fanfiction or even blog posts, doing videos, or anything else that I might want to do. Rather than making me want to get that journal done, it makes me want to write a blog post about how this method doesn’t work! After writing this monster of a post, I’ll feel better, but the journal still won’t be any closer to being done. (I’ve literally been writing for an hour at this point.)
Placing conditions on myself makes me run to distractions, which in the long run is terrible because it makes me procrastinate, and stresses me out. But I also can’t just “do whatever I want” because that also stresses me out. I sit there and ask myself, “I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” My self doesn’t reply because it’s still caught up in a whirlwind of things to do and my chest tightens and I start “That Doki-Doki”. I guess it’s a mild form of panic…? Worry? Fight or flight, but I can’t do either.
I mean, each day is an equal opportunity for me to get things done. But each day is also an opportunity for me to enjoy the day, to be myself and…well, to just be.
Many members of my family have problems staying on task, and I no doubt learned the bad habit from them. Some also have bad habits of not following through with their promises, which has taught me that I can never trust what they say, and maybe that’s why I can’t follow through with my promises either. Many have problems with clutter, and maybe that’s why I can’t let go of things I promise to do, no matter how much time has passed since I made the promise–even if it wasn’t even a promise at all, just a “Hey, I kinda wanna draw that now.” “Oh, you should!!” *Yuki’s mind: I am now obligated to draw this picture.*
In the end… I really don’t have control over anything, I don’t like that, and I don’t know what to do about the cycle of uselessness I have myself trapped in.
In the end… I assume that even if you read all the way through this tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) post, you probably won’t comment (I don’t comment on everything I read either). But I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these sorts of problems. I guess sometimes I just need to be reminded that I’m not in control of everything, and that I don’t have to be in control of everything.
You probably thought I was done writing, but rather than going back through and editing in what I’m thinking now, I’ll just type it here and not worry about it too much. ^^;
I’ve tried to keep myself from getting stressed out by taking deep breaths and not let myself stress over things that bother me in the back of my mind while I’m focusing on something else. I mean, I keep adding things to my plate while expecting the most out of me; expecting that I can do [for example,] a full CG start-to-finish with probably a full-body character and a background, several lessons in Japanese, China journal input, a blog post, singing and dance practice, and juicing all in one day. Even without the juicing, that’s still a day overstuffed with activities. It can take me five hours to do a CG of a full-body character WITHOUT a background; what am I thinking?! China journal is on average an hour at a time, Japanese lessons and reviews can take an hour or two, a blog post takes me about an hour or more to write on average, and singing and dancing generally runs for one to three hours, depending on what I’m working on and how well my voice is doing that day. Juicing takes two to four hours to do, on average three. Adding all of that up, that’s roughly fourteen hours of stuff I might want to do in a day, and on top of that, I have to take time to eat three times a day (45 minutes), sleep (?????), and do miscellaneous things such as trips to the store and bathroom breaks (lol). What if I’m going to church or attending a meeting or something in the evening? That’s extra hours to tack on. I can’t continue to expect myself to do fourteen hours’ worth of activities in half that time. Like I said before, that is like dooming myself to failure.
That being said, it is easy to see why I never want to go bike riding whenever my dad suggests that we all go for a bike ride. I have too many things to do and I haven’t given myself enough time to do them in, so I am unwilling to put them off anymore.
…Well, it is now 11:30, so that’s two hours for one blog post. *tips hat* I’m off to lunch. I guess I’ll listen to a podcast while I’m doing that and then come back into my room to draw. Gotta finish this contest entry.
*gives you a piece of crystallized ginger* Thanks for reading, if you did. I appreciate it.