I've been making art for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories of fingerpainting in kindergarten class, or sitting at the dining room table sketching out made-up characters.
When I was about 7 or so, my dad, a graphic designer and all-around creative guy, took me to the art supply store and spent probably way too much money on sketchbooks and pencils to help nurture what was very clearly a budding obsession of mine.
By the time I got to high school, rarely a day went by that I didn't spend an hour or two poring over my sketchbook. It was a compulsion. I was nominated for awards in school, entered my paintings in class art shows, and had my photo in the paper standing alongside the town mayor during the city's annual celebration of local art.
I had dreams about works I wanted to create, and upon waking I would start creating them, sometimes in the middle of the night. I sketched, I painted, I collaged. On a few occasions I sculpted (poorly, oh well). I was pretty much dead set in my belief that, once high school ended, I would head to art school for four years before attempting to make it as an artist.
During my senior year of high school though, I dropped out. I was having health issues, both mental and physical, and decided I needed a change. I started taking antidepressants and began working toward my remaining credits through correspondence learning. As the months went by and I worked to get myself healthier, I noticed I wasn't creating as much. By the time I received my high school diploma, post-secondary education was now represented in my mind with a giant question mark.
How could I go to art school if I hadn't made art in months? And why hadn't I made any art anyway? Eventually I started to realize that while Prozac worked for some people, it wasn't working for me. It made me feel dull and tired, like I was on a plateau of mediocrity, simply going through the motions. I stopped taking the medication and decided to devote the next step of my education to pursuing something else -- acting.
My time at college was a great one, but definitely not without personal conflict. Being unmedicated was a bad path for me, and halfway into my second semester, my untreated mental health issues reared their ugly head. I sought help, found the right combination of medication, got back on my feet and graduated.
Being in acting school, I felt like I was creating again. Upon graduating I went straight into performing in a play. I was making art again, just in a different way, but I still missed my old love. I started stocking up on tubes of paint and new brushes again, and slowly dipped my feet back into the waters of visual art. In my final semester of college I bought a "How To Draw The Face And Body" guidebook at a campus book sale, realizing I had completely forgotten how to sketch the human form.
Over the past few months, I've finished a few pieces. I'm nowhere near my original teenage output (I mean, I have a job to do. I can't simply doodle during math class anymore.) I have found though that when I take the time to paint, or to collage, usually in the middle of the afternoon when I feel myself fading, my brain suddenly wakes up. It gives me a little kick that keeps my momentum going and inspires me to do work.
I've even discovered that my hobby can have a payoff, recently taking to selling little sketches to friends through Instagram, and I'm now getting ready to sell prints on Etsy for spare pocket money.
I guess what I'm realizing is that it's so important for me, personally, to create things. I feel useless otherwise. Through the years for me it's taken form in a lot of different ways -- painting, sewing, baking. Any outlet that focused my energy and provided me with a tangible end result. Rediscovering and recognizing this facet of myself is bringing me back to being a more well-rounded person. I don't find myself lying in bed at the end of te day, wondering what I've done with my time.
I hope perhaps that through sharing this with you guys that maybe you'll consider picking up a former hobby that makes you feel the same way. I hope you can find a balance in your life between productivity and leisure, exhaustion and joy. Go out there and get it done, even if "it" is a terrarium or a silkscreened T-shirt. Wake up your brain and let me know what happens.