There seems to be those people in social media realm that just look brilliantly natural in every single picture they post no matter the angle, pose or face expression. Then there are people like me who mostly end up looking awkward with weird smirks and beady eyes, features that make me look like a combination of a confused alien and stuffed rodent, which is not exactly the look...Read More
If you've been following me along on Instagram you've probably seen that I've posted new stuff very consistently for the last 6 months or so. The reason that I've posted almost daily has been to improve my photography and visual storytelling skills, and also because I've just really enjoyed the process of making and sharing my work everyday.
And so, when I hit a creative slump and felt completely stuck creatively last week, I kinda panicked...Read More
In the last month I've had three big engagement spikes in the social media world, or to be more precise, on Instagram.
The first one happened when my picture got featured on Instagram's own page, you can read more about that here, and the second spike happened a few weeks ago when a picture of mine got over a 10,000 likes that resulted in over a 1000 new followers in one day, which are HUGE numbers by my standards. Then just a few days ago my picture got featured again (!?!) by Instagram as part of the weekends hashtag project.
Now that means my pictures got featured twice in a one month, which is absolutely insane and makes my socks wiggle and swirl around and do all kinds of fancy moves from excitement. And, even though the true joy of sharing creative work online lies in the connections and feeling of being part of a community much more than looking at the numbers, it does undoubtedly feel good to get validation that what I'm putting out in the world is resonating with people.
But, as I was dancing in the disco ball light of the online world, there was another peculiar feeling that hit me, namely a weird sense of passiveness. A feeling I wasn't quite prepared for.
Suddenly the engagement on my account skyrocketed without me actively doing anything, which immediately made me question, should I be doing something? It felt weird to passively stand by and see how the likes and new followers kept rolling in even though I wasn't actively doing anything right at that moment, I become almost like an outside witness to the whole thing And then an ambiguous fear started to creep in, maybe this would all be taken away from me if I didn't do something to show that I've truly earned it? Could I just lean back and allow myself to enjoy this moment and let go of my own fate? Just trust that my destiny is in the safe hands of the universe while I kick back for a moment?
Ok, so maybe I'm being slightly over dramatic here, it is after all only Instagram we're talking about. However, I think these feelings might be common when it comes to reacting to a small breakthrough of some sort. When that moment something you've wanted to happen for a really long time finally does come true, you start being afraid of losing it if you allow yourself to enjoy it too much. How can celebrating our victories be so difficult while talking about our struggles seems to come so naturally?
For me personally this might partly be due to the fact that I'm much more used to the feeling of trying really hard without really knowing if what I'm doing is going to resonate with anyone else or if it's any good. So the feeling of success is just kinda, strange.
While I'll continue to practice celebrating my successes without becoming numb and terrified, I'll remind myself that feeling like I'm failing is actually not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, whenever I feel like I'm failing or not achieving what I want I start to work that much harder. Whenever I'm feeling dissatisfied with my work I kick in another gear and start pouring all my effort and energy into it which I probably wouldn't do if I would feel confident and safe.
How about you, do you struggle with celebrating your successes? How does the feeling of having a breakthrough affect your work and creativity?
On Tuesday morning I woke up to the carefully uttered words by my boyfriend “hey, I know it's annoying to wake up so early.. but something's going on with your Insta account, you've gotten a thousand new followers since last night”.
I jumped out of bed because I immediately had a hunch what was going on, my entry for the weekends hashtag project might have gotten featured, yippieee! I rushed to my phone, hair standing up straight and drool still on my cheeks. And yes, there it was, me and Luna the cat on the front page of Instagrams own 226 million follower account!...Read More
I don't know if it's the fact that I'm going to turn 30 next year or if it's because I recently graduated from university, but I've never worried about my future as much as this past year. On Wednesday I found a break from all that worrying in a surprising place though, the Gröna Lund amusement park.
I haven't been to one of those in many years, and honestly, I've never been a huge fan of going in all those topsy turvy machines and trains and stuff so my expectations weren't that high.
But the experience of being at Gröna Lund brought back the childlike feeling of being completely filled up with spontaneous joy. It was so liberating to feel the rush of excitement from riding a tiny blue train through a dark tunnel filled with mechanical puppet monsters and ghosts.
Never thought I would find a good reason to quote a Christmas song, especially not in the middle of September, but these lines really came to mind as I was writing this.“And all the lights are shining/ so brightly everywhere/ And the sound of children's / Laughter fills the air”. The children's excitement was genuinely contagious and I soaked up all that good stuff like a sponge.
I went all giggly in the house of funny mirrors, which, actually was kinda lame because the concept is so simple, but even more brilliant exactly because of that! No fire works and cool sound effects, just some bendy mirrors. For those few popcorn munching hours I let go of all the pressure and worries.
On the way home I could feel how that goofy little person was fully alive in my body again, not just as a memory in my head. At the age of 8 I wrote a document where I stated that when I grow up I would have a pool, be a millionaire and have glasses (still working on the first two points but at least I can check the box on the last one). But so yeah, fair to say that I didn't have any limiting beliefs about my abilities, the concept of post education anxieties and career goals were still distant back then.
Growing up as part of generation Y has been confusing because of the constant contradictions. On the one hand we have all these possibilities to become whatever we want with more freedom of choice than ever before, at the same time we live in bleak financial times where lack of money seems to be the excuse for every issue in society. How do you cope with these mixed messages? i honestly don't know, and I think everyone just tries to solve it on a personal level. Which makes everyone even more focused on themselves and their worries, in these individualistic times where so much focus is put on the success of the individual.
As a child the boundaries of grown up life and the notion of mortality aren't present. Everything is possible when you are young, and going to the amusement park reminded me of that. Worrying is probably an inevitable part of life to some extent, but I'm going to try and balance it out adding a good portion of childish hope back into the mix. This grown-up-worrying-mush ain't really doing it for me in terms of living a good life.
My parents always told me I was very stubborn as a child. When I had decided not to try the weird squishy culinary experiments of my Dad, even when they had funny names like Dim Sum, he had to fight hard to try to change my mind. I remember that little person back then thinking that being stubborn was probably not such a good thing. But, still I couldn't help finding myself in situations where I just felt I knew better than all the adults around me. Now I'm 29 ,and while I've certainly matured from back then and learned that trying new things is good, I've also come to appreciate my stubborn personality more. I made a list of 5 things that it has actually helped me with.
Ps. i've also since then tried Dim Sum, and just as I suspected, that mushy stuff was not at all my thing. See Dad? I did, and still do often know better than you.
1. Not giving up easily.
When I was 16 I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a dancer, despite not having danced full time since I was a child. I worked my butt off (quite literally) while I was in high school, going to dance classes every evening and weekends to trim my ballet technique and learn as much as possible, tried everything from Hip Hop to Flamenco to belly dancing.
After graduating from high school I got into a dance school in Germany, but soon found that it was not the place for me. After a year I auditioned in London, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Finland, and got rejected from every school. I was heartbroken and felt defeated. But I continued to dance in Berlin, stubbornly determined with every tendu and plié to get into a better school next year. Good things come to those who wait, and well, those who are just stubborn and persistent. Next year I got into a school in Amsterdam which is one the best in Europe. I would never have gotten that far if I wouldn't have been so determined, even when facing doubts from everybody else in the world.
2. Following my gut and creative visions
I have a bad habit of asking people close to me for creative advice and then bluntly ignoring it. The thing is, I need someone to talk with about my creative ideas because explaining things out loud helps me sort out my own thoughts. The problem arises that when the other person (usually my boyfriend or my Mom) engage in my ideas and start trying to give suggestions or advice, I often don't take them and that can come off as quite unappreciative. That's because I often already have a strong gut feeling for my project, even if it's not yet completely articulated or clear.
Even though it might not seem like a very nice way of using someones efforts it does help the process incredibly much. Getting another persons suggestions to push against means I often end up staying true to my own intuition and creative visions. I will immediately know if a suggestions feels wrong for the thing I am trying to make.
Of course getting other peoples perspectives and thoughts on things can also work in much more direct ways, but it can also sometimes throw you off your path and just confuse you more. So, sometimes being headstrong isn't such a bad thing.
3. Knitwear without holes in them
I will unravel a knitting project a hundred times if I am not happy with the result (okay maybe not a hundred times, but you get the idea) .
4. Proper running technique
I've had all kinds of problems with my feet and knees, which has made running, something I love, a challenging activity. I wanted to improve my running technique and started to run with my toes first touching the ground instead of the heels. It felt super awkward and exhausting in the beginning but I kept at it and now I can run without pain, hurray!
5. Finding love
Yes, I believe that here too my stubborness played a part. Before my current relationship I was single for almost four years. Single, and desperately wanting not to be single. Like many others, I put myself out there a lot in hopes of finding something meaningful, and of course got disappointed many times when shorter or longer flings ended. But, I didn't give up and no matter how many times my dreams of finding "rock your world" love (or at least "make your world inch a bit from side to side" love) came crashing down.
But, I searched for it and in the end I found it.
There is this weird mysticism revolving finding love I think, where many people seem to think that you shouldn't try too hard or say out loud that you want to be in a relationship. Like there is this notion that you should just accept that it happens when it happens, you just have sit and wait around for it. Well, that idea never worked for me, I was stubborn and put myself out there over and over again, no matter how many times that meant sobbing alone in the kitchen after yet another potential love story ended.
I've just been working as a choreographer on an opera production for 6 weeks and returned back home to Stockholm this week. During my one and a half month away most of my other projects have been pretty much on hold and I've been waiting with excitement to get back to them.
The day after I got back home I sat down to make a to-do-list. On my list I put some knitwear orders I had to start working on, my idea for an upcoming blog post and the planning of another dance production for later in the Autumn. Not long until I noticed that my eyes kept drifting off to the nearby couch and that my brain couldn't really focus on the task at hand.
I promptly told myself that I should get into a productive mode after having been gone for so long and not let my mind wander off. I've listened to enough of podcasts about successful people to know that you have to “show up every day” if you want to reach your goals so I was determined to not get distracted. After all, the opera premier had been a success and even though it's always mentally stressful to finish a production, I thought surely I should have the energy to get going on some new projects.
I got my laptop out and started working. But, my mind felt sticky and my thoughts were a mess. Our cat eating Nutella from the nearby plate and insisting on using the laptop keypad as a private lane didn't help. Suddenly the thing I had looked forward to doing didn't feel at all as enjoyable as I had imagined, instead it started to feel like a tiresome and quite honestly frustrating chore.
That's when I realized that wait a minute, I've been here before. This scenario when the inner voice in my mind starts using the word “should” and sucks all the creativity out of me. In this state I know I won't make any progress or get any meaningful work done. When my mind fills up of “shoulds” the space for original thinking shrinks substantially.
There was an article a few years back in a Finnish newspaper that talked about the importance of having time to do nothing. The minds unconscious layers need time to process information when you are trying to solve a problem or come up with new innovations. In the same that way you can't force yourself to sleep you can't hurry up the brains deep thought processes. Doing nothing is pretty much the worst thing imaginable for someone as hyperactive as me, but that's exactly why it's so essential.
This in turn leads me to think about the much underestimated value of being bored. My Mother always talks about the importance of experiencing boredom from time to time. She spent all her childhood summers out in the archipelago feeling pretty lonely because there were no families with kids around. That must have sucked at the time but it did make her develop a very vivid imagination, one that she now uses in her profession as a writer. Without all that time spent alone she wouldn't have had to fill up the days with her own stories, and maybe wouldn't have allowed for her to develop her story telling abilities.
In the world we live in today boredom is highly undervalued. With so much entertainment just a click away no one ever has to feel bored, but I think that's a pity. A big inhibitor for doing nothing is probably this pressure or expectation that we should use every minute to try and reach our next goal and work hard at realizing our dreams.
While I applaud hard work and ambition, I don't see the value in keeping busy just because the world shouts at us that that's the way efficiency looks like. Plus, now I have research to back it up. If I need to engage in the noble act of staring at the walls and procrastinate to reach my own creative potential I will do so.
When I allow myself to take it a bit easy I usually end up getting a whole bunch of new ideas that just seem to pop up out of nowhere. We are so used to tackle problems from an analytical standpoint and trying to use rationality to develop new ideas that the notion of doing just the opposite feels quite revolutionary. Drinking more tea is what might save us after all.