For two weeks, I got off YouTube and decided to be more aware of mindless scrolling. Throughout those two weeks, my life seemed quieter, and for those first few days, I hated that it felt quieter. I didn’t know what to do with my hands, with my loud mind, filled to the brim with unsorted thoughts. I learned that I enjoyed the business of scrolling online to pass time in a line or watching a YouTube video when I was bored, filling my consciousness with fluff. Or maybe, I was dependent on it, and didn’t enjoy it at all. All I really knew was that so much of my time was being spent on time-wasters that weren’t really benefiting me in any way, and in fact, were leaving me more drained than before. I kept wanting to write creatively, wanting to read more, wanting to play a video game once and awhile, but I just felt like I had no time. So, I deleted what I thought was occupying my time, YouTube and Instagram, and I was right.
Soon after, I not only had time, but I became creative again.
Have you ever spent an entire day on your phone because you were feeling tired, but when you got off your phone, you somehow felt even more tired? This is because, although watching YouTube and scrolling online seem like mindless, easy tasks, we’re still taking in all of that blue light and making thousands of decisions, judging others, processing information, and, well, working. Even though we feel like we’re relaxing, we’re really working harder than we would be if we were just sitting in stillness, or even reading. In fact, reading reduces our stress levels by 68% within just six minutes of reading, while watching television, or scrolling online, increases stress.
The point of this post isn’t to tell you that social media is the enemy and reading is the remedy for stress. But, perhaps scrolling for hours a day is not only taking up all of your time, but limiting your creativity by burning you out.
When we are constantly consuming the world around us, taking in so much information during a single sitting, we are exhausting our brain and using up all of our mental energy. So when you finally sit down to write, or express your creativity, your eyes are burning and your brain feels like jelly.
While I’m sure most of your creative inspiration comes from other creatives, which there is nothing particularly wrong with, sometimes, all of that noise is doing more harm than good. Sometimes, the inspiration we really need is from our own selves, buried deep by everything we think we should be doing.
I like to think that each person has a deep, vast ocean beneath them, filled with passion, drive, creativity, and dreams. The only thing separating them from their ocean is a thin layer of ice. If we need to fish for ideas, we can withdraw our knife and cut away at the ice, maybe even break it by stomping down with our boots. Then, we have all the creative ideas we need, which are tucked away, already there within us, pouring out easily. However, the more we consume, the more noise, the more stress, the more our ice thickens and the more we distance ourselves from not only our creative ideas and passions, but who we really are. Instead, we are standing on top of everything around us, completely unaware of how far we are from what we truly want.
Maybe this is a rather intense metaphor, but it is something I thought of while undergoing a lack of creativity and motivation to write, a passion that had been buried away long ago. When trying to reach my story ideas, I felt so far from myself, falling short every time. I would stare at a blank page for hours, writing a sentence or two, then giving up entirely. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to start chipping away at that ice to connect to my ocean that I began to reconnect with my desires. I started by deleting Instagram off my phone, logging off YouTube, wearing clothes that I felt good in, and listening to my gut above others’ opinions. I chipped away slowly, but eventually, I made it.
I let go of the consumption to open up my creativity.
Then again, it really is a balance. Sometimes, our ocean is dried-up, and we need to refill it by looking outward, and this is okay. But, the ocean, once filled, calls to be poured out again, onto the blank canvas, or else the ice may thicken once more.
Hopefully this metaphor makes some amount of sense.
I’m not here to tell you to throw your phone into a pit of fire. I’m not here to tell you that you’re watching too much television. However, I am here to remind you that your vast ocean, your creative self, calls to you from below. And if you haven’t been creative in quite some time (perhaps you haven’t noticed this until now), it may take some work to chip through that ice, the noise, the comparisons, the lives of others. But, you can get there, and you will.
All it takes is a little bit of creativity, a little bit of reconnection, and a little bit less of social media. (Maybe pick up a book to read while you’re at it, too!)