After shutting down my Etsy shop and leaving the Indie Roller community of creative indie biz owners, I felt a little lost. I think as humans, we have an innate desire to belong and be a part of something perhaps, bigger than ourselves. Being a part of somewhere we can find like minded people and share our thoughts, feelings, ideas around any given subject. Be it hobbies, faith, intellectual, arts and culture, creativity and so on. As a highly sensitive person and a deep thinking introvert, I really thrive in an environment where I can share all my inner ramblings, spark discussion and just enjoy everyone's different points of view. A place to inspire and be inspired, excite and get excited but also find comfort and support for things I may be struggling with. People I can relate to that get what I'm rambling on about! It's one of the reasons I write this blog. I often have a lot of thoughts to process and putting it down on here is one of those outlets. When we find that place of connection within the right community, it can work wonders for our general well being and sense of self.
In my search for a new online community to replace the Indie Roller hole I suddenly found myself with, I stumbled across the Anti-Burnout Club run by Bex Spiller. It's centred mostly around mindfulness/wellness including things such as Yoga/Pilates, breath work/meditation but also central themes that come in the way of 'challenges' to sign up for. I joined for the 'Summer of self-confidence' challenge that started this year in 2021. It's a lovely online community that is full of like-minded people who want to grow and work on themselves using all of the lessons and techniques that are part of the content Bex produces.
This month's theme has been connection which is what sparked the idea for this blog. One of the questions that started us off was 'what does connection mean to you?' and to think about the different areas we connect with. This was my flow chart of word association that came from a day where I woke up feeling the need to be loved and nurtured.
That day, I was on the tail end of recovering from Covid (I had it in December 2020 and it was horrendous. Physical side effects I could cope with and wasn't hit too bad but for me, with my existing mental health, the aftermath was awful. I think it must've coincided with a depressive phase of my bi-polar cycles as the brain fog was what I can only describe as the 'zombie phase' utter blankness that meant I couldn't even answer what my name was! Let alone give any kind of opinion or have any ability for basic decision making or general cognitive function! Not pleasant!) which, compared to that horrendous description of the December 2020 variety, was very mild indeed. I would say it was gone in a week from start to finish. So this day was the only day of brain fog I experienced. I'd had a very bad morning which started with me failing to remember to buckle my 7 year old into his seat belt (this was quickly remedied) and then nearly getting rammed into the back of us by a speeding car as I was trying to pull out of a tricky side road! I was in a bit of a state that morning! I had a chat with a very good friend of mine, also a fellow HSP (highly sensitive person) who is very intuitive and able to give similar revelations/recognise behaviours etc. Something she pointed out was that after shutting down the Etsy shop, I had stepped away from it all to the point of neglecting my creativity. That I had forgotten to maintain it as a hobby. As a creative, it is so important for me to be able to not only use my creativity but to express it also. I sat down and created this piece with watercolour pencils, gouache paint and standard watercolours.
Another thing I had realised in terms of filling the gap with an online community was that I had joined ones such as Popsy and Carolina Dress Room that only fuelled an obsession of spending too much on pretty dresses! I realised that it was an easy fix to receive joy from as a colour lover and the art of the prints in terms of also feeding my creativity in that way. An easy way to be accepted after feeling like I was never really up to the standard of others in the Indie Roller crowd. There always seemed to be a select few that would get the most responses/praise/highest sales that were practically held up as idols in the group. Leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth and always feeling a little less than. And when I tried to post my feelings about comparison, including a link to a very interesting article on the subject, not only did I get few responses, someone also reported it to Facebook as Spam and my whole post got removed! What a way to pour salt on the wound! I think they just got fed up with me asking for support on not feeling good enough! At one point the rules were changed to the extent that you weren't even allowed to rant or moan! I hated that rule! Toxic positivity can jeff off! It was hard to 'stay in my lane' when it felt like my lane wasn't really going anywhere! 😬So after all that vulnerability and hurt, what was easier than just buying a dress to be a part of something?!
There is also a bone of contention with these FB groups. They are the epitome of modern marketing. Peer to peer selling is where it's at these days. You see the product on 'real life people' not just a stylised shot in a studio that is obviously far removed from 'real life'. It's the FOMO of new products being constantly released. It's the idea you can buy into this lifestyle and be accepted just for wearing a pretty patterned dress. It's absolute madness! Gone are the days where a paper catalogue would drop through the door. For me it was the Joe Browns one I loved in terms of the pretty patterns/prints and quirky styles and colours. I would enjoy just sitting down, taking the time to relish and get excited by all the colours/prints/patterns, maybe circling some I loved, making a small wish list and would treat myself every so often. If you think about it, a fashion catalogue might be released twice in the year, Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer. That's reasonable on the old budget. Not new releases every week! I'm so aware of the impact this is having on us all. FOMO is real and I hate it as a marketing tactic. However, I still love the products but after buying 5 Popsy's and 10 items from CDR, I'm putting a cap on it right there! Photo collage below for you to behold the beauty of these products.... feel the fear! 😂 Popsy on the left and Carolina Dress Room on the right.
Realising my need to find an online community that specifically feeds and inspires my creativity, (because, despite the hard parts of the comparison trap with Indie Roller, I really enjoyed seeing and engaging with everyone else's work!) I joined Grayson Perry's Art group on Facebook! It has been lovely to feed my soul drinking in everyone's work on there. Not to mention joining in a few debates over some divisive pieces! Love a bit of that! It's also inspired me to get painting and to be more disciplined in setting aside specific time to get creative as a hobby.
I've already spoken about the pitfalls of the pandemic, including loss as a subject in terms of losing Debenhams. But let's not forget how much disconnection it brought us too. We may've changed the way we communicated and everybody (well, most) jumped on the Zoom video meeting bandwagon. Online services for places such as Church communities for example. But taking away that vital face to face was a huge detriment to our souls. My faith suffered terribly during that time, not being able to meet in person. I found I didn't have the discipline to sit and make a point of watching the online services as I wouldn't get up in time or other things would be going on at home to distract me from truly being present. When you set aside the time to go somewhere in person, you make an easy subconscious choice to put away all distractions and just 'be' there, listening, setting your smart phone aside and leaving it on silent and really engaging with what's going on. Never mind the fact that for me and as it should be for most others, Church is always about the people. By not going in person, you miss that vital support that being part of a Church community will bring. Someone to sit and pray with you, ask how you are and and are generally invested in the long winded answer and as a general encouragement in your faith and day to day life. I'm not a disciplined person at the best of times so trying to struggle through that time was hard. We all need encouragement for most things in life so suddenly feeling without it felt quite lonely, trying to connect with my faith, just me and God and no one else!
I'm going to leave you with this Ted talk on addiction. The end line states that the opposite of addiction is connection. Johann Hari talks about an experiment called 'rat park' and so much of this resonates with the isolation we all suffered during those awful lockdowns. How many people overindulged in things such as alcohol and food as a way of coping during that time? Another line in this talk is this: "if you can't bond because you're traumatised, isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief". Wow! Have a listen as it is really interesting what connection means to us and how important it is to find purpose and meaningful connections in our lives.
I'm Julia, Just Creative Julia, jolly pleased to meet you!
Welcome to my creative lifestyle blog, established 2014. My main sections are: creativity including crafting, poetry and interior design; well being including mental health, recipes and my faith in God; personal including parenting and my general introvert deep thoughts. You can also have a browse in my shop and Etsy shop.