Embracing The Pressure

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Sitting in Central Park with the faint sounds of the city humming in my ears and the smell of hot pretzels teasing my hunger pains, I was surrounded by serenity and scenes of people enjoying some down time, but I felt uneasy. There I was, in what is one of the most peaceful parts of the city away from the deafening sirens and angry beeps of the impatient drivers, and yet my mind still felt heavy. It was a feeling I’m very familiar with, but not one I expected to face one month in to my three month break.

I quickly realised that the feeling was pressure.

As I sat there on the daisy-dotted patch of grass, I tried to explore my mind and figure out where this feeling was stemming from. When I left London, it was to escape the pressure and try and allow my self to rebuild after some of the toughest months of my life. I needed nothingness and space to reinvent and welcomed this break with open arms, so why did I feel under pressure to do more?

With no job to consume my brain, I quickly realised that the pressure I was feeling was obviously coming from my own mind. Despite having three months of freedom and the time to sit and relax, my mind was making me feel guilty for not working. It was putting pressure on me to use this time to do something productive – it was urging me to write, nagging me to get that book planned or that project on the go.

My peaceful time in the park and my endless hours of having just my thoughts for company had given me the headspace I needed to realise I needed to embrace this feeling, and not fight it. After all, the pressure in my mind to work and create had probably got me to where I am today.

Feeling that pressure on a peaceful day where I had nothing to do reminded me of the drive inside me. I still had that fire in me to create, even while on a break. It was there and it made me feel like, actually, this is clearly what I’m supposed to be doing in life because I’m craving it when I’m not surrounded by it.

So I’m going to open my arms wide and embrace it – along with the joys and shit days it brings with it.

 

Manhattan and Brooklyn in Pictures

I don’t feel like I’ve been here long enough to give you a true guide to the city. I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s on offer here, preferring instead to enjoy the slow life of casual exploration. Day-by-day, I cover new ground. In the mornings I write about things like The Art of Getting Lost or what Belonging means to me, and in the afternoons I explore new streets and wander down fresh avenues. I snap away at anything that catches my eye, or my heart, making sure I turn these magical moments into something a little more permanent. I take time to stop and absorb my surroundings for a few minutes before venturing on to the next neighbourhood.

Here are just a few of the pictures I’ve taken. You can find them, and a few more, on my Instagram where I’m documenting my summer in NYC.

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The Right Time To Write

IMG_3993When I was younger, I would constantly be writing. I’d sit on my bed with my laptop and write post after post about what I thought about child models, why I hated the fact Kate McCann had brought a book out and about how Audrey Hepburn captured my heart. I’d sit and write and publish it to the world, without waiting for validation or a sign that it was the perfect time to create.

As I got older, I started to feel like I could only write if the time was right. I’d wait for the ideal situation where I was in an okay mood, had some quiet time and didn’t have a to do list longer than my arm. I became a perfectionist and constantly battled with my need to express myself vs my anxiety about producing the perfect piece, which had to be written under the perfect conditions.

With my insane need for control, I ended up forcing myself into the dreaded arms of writer’s block. Day after day, I’d fight it. I’d sit down with an idea, only to feel strangled by my OCD and would start to question whether it was worth sharing, or had enough substance to be published. By the time I’d managed to get it down on paper, I’d be exhausted and wracked with self-doubt.

Then I came across a wonderful quote by Ernest Hemingway that reconnected me with writing. He said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed”.

It’s taken me seven years to come to the realisation that there’s never a right time to write. There’s never an ideal situation or perfect conditions, and by telling myself there is, I was shutting off my creativity. The sun will always rise and set, and time will never suddenly stop for an hour to give me the headspace to write. I can’t sit and wait for something that probably will never come.

His words also allowed me to accept that writing is a journey. It can be painful, it can feel like when the words have left you that they’ve taken something from you on their route from your mind to your paper. But, I’ve learnt to embrace that feeling. To me, that’s just how I know they are true to me, because I’ve experienced an emotion when setting them free.

Accepting that writing will always be a struggle for me, is strangely comforting. Knowing that it’s okay to feel this and that I’m probably going to experience this every time I sit down to write, is oddly encouraging. It takes away the need for the perfect conditions and has taught me that the trick to keep writing is exactly that – continuing to write, regardless of whether I feel time is right or not. The more I write, the freer my mind feels. And the more I write the more I want to write, which actually feels pretty magical.

So next time you feel like the time isn’t right, write whatever is in your mind anyway and see where it takes you. Mine brought me here.