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Disoriented and Overwhelmed: A Case the unorganized Nicheless days

After weeks of feeling disoriented and unsure and just, over all, overwhelmed. I’m here. And very ready to approach my thoughts on my first blog more openly.

My niche-less life felt much more difficult to live once I formally stated I was going to live it. Not because I lost interest in the idea, not because I didn’t know if was even possible, and also not even because now there was people holding me accountable to it [i.e, you readers]. No. Instead this overwhelming sense of dread set in. All the negative self talk I am guilty of— the who do you think you are, thinking you can do this? You really think you can find a way to survive in this capitalistic society doing the things you love only? Grow up. Do you even really love the things you say you love, because now I’m just seeing you on the couch catatonic. So… you must just suck and clearly can’t do anything.

Yeah, my brain can be incredibly evil to me. And then I get upset that I am being mean to myself and the cycle starts over because of that. It doesn’t help that I decided to go through with this idea right before August hit, which, of course, is my birth month and this year happened to be the big 3-0. So not only did I have all of those awful “who do you think you are?” thoughts, I also had the “wow you’ve accomplished nothing” thoughts.

But after I spent my birthday surrounded by my family and friends [in the most Covid safe, yet fun way], I realized all that of the negative self talk was just that. Talk. And lets be real, in most cases dogs/people/etc have a worse bark than they do bite, right? So I did what my lovely therapist suggested, and I started to ask those thoughts why—Why can’t I do it? Why can’t I try something new? Why do I have to conform to what society say’s I have to do? Why does watching tv mean I’m useless? Why don't my thoughts on life matter?— So safe to say I’ve done a lot of internal work, and also did some outward work on developing a system that would allow me to explore my passions in an organized, yet low pressure way.

Thoughts on negative thoughts :

If you’re curious on what that system is, I’m going to get into that in just a hot sec. First, I wanna talk about negative self talk, because I know I’m not the only one that deals with that. Many of us struggle with the need to make every day as productive as possible, which is a byproduct of a society that loves workaholics. I mean really, how many people do you know that work more than 40 hours a week? Or take their work home? Or work two jobs? Welcome to a capitalist society that only gets more expensive as we age, asking us to work harder for less. I mean yeah, it’s hard not to be in a world like this and not feel like sh*t when you have a “lazy” day— or in other words a day off. This is particularly true for creative types, at least from what I’ve seen among my

creative peers, whether photographers, actors or artists.

We dream big, and want so much, but work these jobs that don’t fulfill us, and thus suck us dry of inspiration [this also doesn’t JUST happen to creative types]. Instead, what seeps in is negative self talk. We start to miss the inspiration that drove us, and instead bitterness and anger seep in, taking form of this negative self who only wants to remind you of all that your missing, but goes about it the wrong way. Instead of telling you to rest so you can recharge and regroup, this voice tells you what a waste of space you are, or that you just spent so much time doing the wrong thing; and any rest you do take ends up being clouded by guilt or shame. So is it really rest? [Answer is no.] So, yeah, that TikTok video you watched that uses the sound from Pixar's Luca saying "Silencio Bruno" -- that my friends is exactly what we have to do. Give that voice a name and tell it to shut up.

How learning to say "Silence Bruno!" gave way to a new system

So the question came. How can I manage this life I want to lead so badly, while not burning myself out, but also not making myself feel bad for taking beneficial rest.

I decided to revisit a time when I was the busiest I’ve ever been. College. Yes, you read that right, I'm revisiting college. My last year at UCI consisted of my attention being spread out between acting, lighting design, and black and white film photography. I spent hours in a theatre, trying to create the perfect light design for Doubt, followed by hours in the darkroom, trying to print the perfect version of this photo for my photo series, and then I’d shoot to Veggie Grill, have dinner, and head over to a student’s apartment to film a horror short. Somehow I managed to work the schedule in my favor without getting burnout, which seems crazy right? Most of the people I spoke with chalked this up to my being younger and therefore more energetic. But… After sitting with this for a while, I realized… I wasn’t getting burnout because I was doing the things I loved. And I had constant positive energy pouring in from supportive friends, teachers, and family members. I also gave myself treats, like "YES, eat the chocolate chip cookie, you deserve it."

So, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I made myself a "class" schedule. I used an online generator you can find by clicking here.

And, I’m officially putting into practice this week… and well, as you can see, I’ve come back to you with a new post. This is 100% going to be a test, and can definitely fail. But trying something is better than not trying, right? And I approach this new schedule with a few things in mind— things may get scheduled that don’t necessarily fit into the schedule. Some days the schedule may not even work. For this reason, I included a day in the schedule that is a default day. A day when I maybe only have time for one thing rather than the way my busier days go. One thing I made SURE to include on every single day is a moment of rest. Literally, I wrote this in, because I figure, if it’s a part of your schedule, you can’t feel bad for resting, right?

My hope and goal with this schedule is that my time doesn't just disappear from me, as I'm sure many of us felt was happening during the pandemic. I think despite all the moves and changes I've made, I hadn't quite left that state of mind. I still felt like my time just dissipated into space. I'm already seeing a better use of my time with only being a few days into it!

So I guess we’ll see how this goes. If you decide to join me on this, leave a comment below and we’ll keep each other posted on this journey.

Stay Healthy my friends!

-Erika Quintana

PS: The one thing I will say, disoriented Erika planted seeds throughout the weeks that later gave way to bigger and better things, and happened to align with where clear-headed Erika was going. SO, don't fret if you find yourself in a confused or overwhelmed place. In those moments, plant seeds--like signing up for a class or showcase that is weeks away [which is what I did]--and I promise you, just doing those actions will start to provide clarity. With weeks of waiting for those two things I planned, I made things happen for myself because I knew those events were coming and I knew I wanted to be prepared.

Going Niche-less

Like going bra-less but in life!

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