These first few years of adulthood have been rough. They’ve taken a toll on me spiritually, physically, and creatively. It’s this last aspect of my life that I mourn the most. Almost every minute of my waking hour was dedicated to creative pursuits when I was in high school. I was in orchestra, band, saxophone quartet, jazz band, marching band, choir, chorale, every theatrical production, musical theatre, creative writing, literature. And when I was at home I spent so much time drawing, coloring, painting.
When I went to college, these creative pursuits were sacrificed in order to guarantee more time studying and making myself marketable. My only musical outlet was choir. I went to a religious college and all we sang was religious music–in my four years we frequently repeated songs to my lament. I am not religious and I found the music tedious and I hated nearly every second I was forced to be there (I had a hefty scholarship that required me to sing in a choir at the school for four years).
But I would be lying if I said all creativity was sacrificed. I instead transferred my soul into my writing. I could turn essays about this or that into a magnum opus. One word could spark 15 pages of writing without stopping or needing to quote material. I had so many ideas and words–their sounds, shapes, percussion–could be blended to sound symphonic. I could make ideas translate into music that bestowed knowledge and beauty.
Then I graduated. I had lost my last refuge of creativity. I started working full-time. The job was monotonous. The bosses were petty. The atmosphere was oppressive and draining. My mind stopped flexing, dancing, taking pleasure in mental acrobatics. I lost my unique perspective. I was depressed. I still am. It’s different than the sadness I felt as a child–sadness that spurred art and beauty. This is a total lack of emotion. A total lack of color or thought. It’s a zombification of everything that I am and hope to be. The horizon is far and bleak. But all the while, everything in me struggled and chafed at these limitations being forced on me. And that struggle against death made me even more depressed and comatose.
Having recently escaped my marching orders to conformity and oppression, I’m trying to find that space again and I am failing utterly. The expectations of what used to be, of who I used to be, hang over me and block out the sun of creativity I’m trying to grow in. I’m desperate to reclaim this person before I start school again. I want to be the person I want to be so that I can shine again–so I can find my tribe again and feel safe and belong. I’m terrified I won’t make it in time. That I’ll still be mentally bleached beige. I’m scared they’ll see I’m just pretending and the happy person I used to be–that it’ll be impossible to get back there again.
I don’t know how to go about reclaiming that person. I find I’m going about it in every wrong way–attempting to create a hollow shell of appearance instead of substance. I have all the materials, I have the space but it isn’t coming back. I’m growing more desperate and terrified that it’s gone and I am that person I fear: emotionless, senseless, insulated from experiencing joy, pain, freedom.
I just want to be free again. I want to have hope again.