Four Steps to beat the Slump

May 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

     You know how sometimes you can get into these slumps; moments when you choose the easiest path in life, with the least amount of conflict or disturbance of routines. Usually the slumps involve Netflix and cheap drinks with cheap people. Well this past Spring has been my worst slump yet. At the height of my slump, my Netflix viewing was 7 seasons in 24 hours, and I have cut friends and people out of my life completely. 

     I was stuck in a routine, a terrible one at that. I didn't try at the things I usually try at. Sure my brain was seeing the photographs I should take, the stories I should be writing, the research I crave to conduct, but I physically couldn't motivate myself. I was short tempered, quick to snap at the people who still tried to talk to me and far too proud to apologize afterwards. I realized this routine stemmed from feeling lost. I know all about feeling lost lately, I am more confused in the direction of my life than I am trying to navigate through the one ways and construction of downtown Pittsburgh. Everything feels too easy. I thought being an adult was supposed to be hard? That I am supposed to panic and learn at every failure. I feel overly prepared. Maybe my parents raised me right, taught me how to handle life before it became a problem, or maybe I am not challenging myself enough. I have never been the one to take the easy way out.

     That is when I had to create lists and steps to fix my slump and drag myself back onto the path I wanted to take my life. As a heads up, everything I do in life starts with a list. And I figured I would talk my way out of this slump. Maybe I can help someone else out of Netflix bingers. Or maybe the world can just get a good laugh at my brain process because this is all unfiltered straight from the noggin. And my brain is a very weird place... Either way, here are my not-so easy steps to get out of a slump.

Step 1: Realization

     I think the first step was to realize I had fallen into an incredibly boring routine. To accept that Netflix bingers are not the right way to handle my problems. To understand that you are unhappy or that you do not feel comfortable in the direction your life is taking is the first half of the problem. I was happy watching Netflix for hours on end, but I could feel something was missing and that was when I realized I had to make a change. Step 1 complete.

Step 2: Identify the Stressors

     Step two is to identify the key factors pushing me into this slump. I thought for awhile it might be Pittsburgh itself. That while I love the city, I wasn't made to handle the congestion and thickness of the smog filled air, the Steel city attitude; That steel had replaced stars and tar had paved over the sand I had grown up with. I thought that maybe being so far away from the ocean and my family had caused me to allow a slump into my life. But it is easy to point out location as a factor. Even as I sit here, at the house that built me, swaying in a hammock with the sweet salt of the ocean the only pollutant in the air, I realize I still feel off.

     So then I thought about the work I have produced this semester. This is where I hit the emotional goldmine. I haven't photographed anything I felt proud of or loved since my last trip to Europe. P.S. That was in High school. Throughout my college experience, I have learned so much. I have improved and honed technique and found a passion for documentary work. But I don't love, or even value my photos. I see images and stories in my mind. My brain is always creating but I couldn't motivate my body to follow through. I don't feel challenged, probably because you don't even have to show up to get an A at Point Park. But it is more than that. I don't want to create because I have zero self-worth. What I see in my mind doesn't translate correctly and the end result isn't even half of what I wanted it to be originally. I allowed myself to accept failure; to accept the fact that my visions will never come true. But then I think back to my work from Europe in 2011-2012. I went in with zero expectations. I just wanted to experience life. And it was through those photographs that I feel freedom, I feel life and most importantly, I feel value. I need to get back to that mindset.

Step 3 : Neutralize the Problem

     Now I didn't come to this realization and then book a last minute flight out of the country. I've had this trip to visit my Grandma in Munich planned for months. It just couldn't have come at a better time. Now the trip has evolved from a simple family visit to finding myself again. I am trying so hard not to go in with any expectations. To prepare without being prepared. To set my lists and planning aside and just experiencing. Allowing myself to get lost for a month. I am limiting my equipment. Focusing not on what materials will be best for every opportunity but just allowing myself to experience the decisive moment of photography. I want to document my Grandmother, who knows when I will get to see her again. I want to explore the people who genetically are just like me but have had such a different history. Most importantly, I just want to take photographs, with no other reason than I felt like it and it looked nice.

Step 4: Be open to the lessons you will learn

     This final step is open-ended. I don't know what I will learn in the next four weeks. Maybe I won't even solve my slump and then I will have to start all over again. But that is okay because I will still be learning. If there was one thing I never lost this past spring, it was my desire to continuously learn.

     So cheers to the Good company, beautiful sights and delicious beer I will be sharing with whomever reads my rambling blog.


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