Over the weekend, @mariovillalobos wrote a great post on creativity’s role in keeping you happy. His thoughts resonated with me as I’ve also found that staying creative is key to my own mental health.
Many years ago, my wife and I were caught in a mass-layoff, loosing both our incomes and health insurance in one fell swoop. To keep us and our child above water, I was fortunate enough to get one of the very few barista jobs open at our local Starbucks.
While I was thankful for the job, (Nothing but love for Starbucks providing health insurance to a severely underserved category of US workers.) I was still separated from the career I’d spent the last 10 years working in. Instead of helping teams solve creative problems, my days became robotically taking orders and watching grown adults pout like my toddler at the smallest of inconveniences. The only time I had for actual thinking was during my 15 minute breaks where I kept myself sane by doodling on my cup.
These hastily scribbled doodles were a life preserver that kept my spirit from starving. They eventually grew into a webcomic that I pushed myself to draw for several years. Nobody but my friends read it but it was an important part of keeping myself mentally healthy and taking daily steps back to the creative life I wanted. None of my future success came automatically but the efforts eventually got me out.
I share this to encourage anyone who is stuck or struggling. You deserve more than survival. You can make it. Be kind to yourself and, no matter how little time you have, allow yourself time to slip into the deep pleasure of curiosity and create something.