On slowing down.

My first issue of the newsletter was titled “reasons to be unproductive” and in it I wrote about stressing myself out by constantly doing. One silver lining of the current situation for me has been the chance to slow things down and re-evaluate my way of living and working - and I did have a good run for a bit in May and June. I made small rituals for myself; yoga before bed after a cleansing shower (a bit counter-productive to workout after a shower I know, but it’s become a guilty pleasure), no social media while in bed, going out for walks more, actually taking the weekend off work.

These last few weeks, however, have had me back on the bad habits and I haven’t been making time to slow down and be still at all. With the “end” of lockdown, I find myself becoming super anxious about these imaginary deadlines I’ve set myself, wanting to publish three or four of the projects I have in the works asap, pitch as much as I possibly can so I can earn some money, consider if I need to give up freelancing until this all blows over, thinking about all the things I want to do on my “to do before turning thirty next year” list… 

I think it’s because the end of lockdown hasn’t really happened for me and probably won’t for a while. Things have been more strained this month and what little motivation I had is waning, but I haven’t stopped constantly adding more and more things to my calendar.

“We also use busyness to avoid our own emotions, existential questions or challenges in our lives... If we don’t face those questions head-on, we’re dooming ourselves (consciously or subconsciously) to remain in uncomfortable patterns, ones that make us feel we need to escape. It’s impossible to make changes towards living a life that suits you when you aren’t willing to look at how you feel about your current situation.” - 6 Benefits of Slowing Down

I read this and it hit me on the head with its truth; not so much a backhand to the cheek, but more of an annoying flick to the forehead. Using busy-ness as an excuse is such a classic avoidance tactic and I kind of knew I was doing it - “keeping myself busy” is what I’ve often written in recent emails - but simultaneously ignored what a bad idea it is to try and keep so constantly busy that there’s no time to take stock of the situation. Even though it was the first thing I wrote about!

It’s been hard because I’m one of those weird “outgoing introvert” hybrids; I need silence and space often, but I also need to go out and be around people, see friends and go eat out somewhere new, meet new people, make new relationships and just have fun and enjoy myself with mates.

Though it’s not my favourite season, I love the summertime because of this; the days are longer and time seems to expand, yearly traditions take place, and we all just seem freer and happier, basking in the warm sun and soaking up all the goodness. The season naturally makes me slow down and appreciate the finer things. I especially feel better out and about, even when I need the time to be alone and decompress, because still living at my mum’s means I don’t get this at home. As is the same for many, I no longer have the usual moments, traditions, experiences with which to break up my time. These were my rituals, I realise - my version of self-care and where I got a lot of my energy from.

I even recommended an article about this very topic in the last issue or one before about how creatives need rituals, not routine. Small moments of pure enjoyment that help to balance us - whether it’s our day, our week or our life in general - but it’s taken writing this issue to actually figure out what’s been missing.

In fact, taking a look at my calendar now, I’ve decided to take next week off. I had a holiday booked back in April, what was supposed to be a super fun camping and walking trip in Wales. The week came and went and I didn’t even clock until mid-week that I should’ve been on holiday - I never did take the time off and haven’t taken any time off since. Which is weird because I used to be great at taking time off when I was in full-time employment; I always rinsed my holiday days and very much believe in taking the time you need, whether it’s for a few weeks travelling or just a long weekend to chill. I spent the time between leaving British Journal of Photography and freelancing travelling to a bunch of random places across the globe and having a fucking great time.

Now, somehow, it feels different; I guess because I was working from home so often before the pandemic happened, and now that I’m here constantly, it doesn’t seem like I really need to take “proper” time off like before - especially when it feels like I’m not even doing much at the moment. But as I’ve realised, that’s hella wrong.

I’ve also made the decision to space out these newsletters and publish issues bi-weekly rather than once a week; I was once again trying to one up myself by writing a newsletter every week, loving the thought of being able to say “ya I wrote an issue every week for a year”. Have to stop with these fake, self-imposed deadlines for real. Forgot for a minute that I’m doing this for the enjoyment of writing, not just for another accolade.

So I’ll see you all again in two weeks time!

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End Notes
Creatives Need Rituals Not Routines
Pico Iyer: the Art of Stillness
6 Benefits of Slowing Down
The ‘Busy’ Trap

P.S

Some exciting personal news: a selection of my photographs of my hometown Croydon have been published in a zine by Another Place Press. More info here if you fancy a grabbing your own copy!


Today’s soundtrack


Reads

‘The relevance of race dissolves in nature’s power’

“Most of us live in estates devoid of clean air and nature. For many, the idea of a visit to the countryside, to the sea or to the mountains is difficult to contemplate. There’s a tragic irony here, of course: the homelands of our forefathers were the vast plains, the high plateaus, the forests and the rivers and the coastlines of Africa.”

Khadija Saye’s large-scale prints are the first of three public installations addressing social inequality in west London

“A new public art project Breath is Invisible launched yesterday (7 July) in London’s Notting Hill showcasing the works of artist Khadija Saye, the young Gambian-British artist who sadly lost her life in the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 at the age of 24.”

Can a novel be silent?

“In looking to hear silence, that is, we will simply start to hear new sounds.”


Opportunities

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“Sometimes you need to change something to feel better”


Hey! I’m a freelance portraiture, documentary and adventure photographer working in London. Community and culture are the cornerstones of my work, and I also run of the land & us, an online journal for photographers exploring our relationship with the natural world.

‘Notes on Freelancing’ is my attempt to make becoming a freelance creative a bit less scary.

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