The Canary in the Coal Mine

When this year started, I wasn’t expecting much. I figured it would be the same old, same old. School: stressful but doable. Social life: roommates count as social interaction, right? Home: Nothing too interesting. Sure, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was opening and I’d be going to Ireland over the summer, but nothing hugely different. It’d be a pretty chill year, filled with awesome things.

It should have been, but life had other plans. The early half of this year decimated my creativity. I was so stressed, even writing and drawing (my two foremost creative outlets) failed me. Instead of enjoying what I was doing, all I could see was how badly I wrote, how much of my drawing skills I’d lost. I wrote out of obligation, because I needed it for a grade. I gave up on drawing. This was my canary in the coal mine, my indication that I was beyond done with stress.

I’m definitely at the top of frustration.

But I still had hope. Summer was just around the corner. I was going to Ireland. Surely this would help me relax, give me a clean start for the start of the next academic school year. I’d be able to write with no deadlines and no restrictions. I could focus on building up my drawing skills. This depressive funk I was in would go away with the stress.

I went to Ireland; I had a great time. I started writing and drawing again. That was June. July hit and my home life became stressful. But this wasn’t the typical, wound-up school stress. This one hid deep inside me. I thought I wasn’t that stressed. I didn’t feel panicky or like I was going to cry. I didn’t feel depressed (and this was definitely more than just sadness) like I had before. In fact, I still felt relaxed with random bouts of irritability. What’s so strange about that? My canary certainly wasn’t dead.


It wasn’t until I realized I had two weeks until school and I still needed to order textbooks and buy supplies and what classes was I even taking again that I thought something might be wrong. But hey, I’d been kind of busy dealing with other things. School would start and I’d be removed from all this family drama and everything would fall back into place. It would totally smooth itself over.

I was wrong. The first two weeks of school, I forgot about homework and ended up rushing around to finish it. I was late to classes by a few minutes. I scratched my car on one of those support beams in the Lastinger parking garage and honestly had no idea how it even happened. I forgot names, dates, times. I told myself to write them down and I forgot that too. In conclusion, I was a certifiable Hot Mess™.

Me handling life.

Thankfully, things have gotten better since then. Occasionally, I still forget things and let work pile up when I shouldn’t, but I’m getting better at it. All of it is a process. But through all this, the one thing that hasn’t gotten better is my creativity. I try to write and despise it all. I look at my art and wonder if I’d never stopped, would I be as good as those artists I follow online? I still feel apathetic, unmotivated, disheartened by everything I’ve been doing. And it sucks. What with my writing classes and other creative endeavors, it’s constantly an uphill battle.

But I’ve been trying to work through it. I write, do creative things, in spite of my apathy and insecurities. Sometimes it’s just a word or the worst doodle I’ve ever done in my life. I go to bed, thinking “I’ll never be as good as before,” only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. And again. Some days, I go into the mines and my canary comes out okay. Others, I’m one more canary short. Sometimes my canary won’t sing even though it seems fine. But I keep going back into the mines of my mind in the hopes I’ll be a little more successful than the day before.

Will I ever be as inspired as I used to be? I don’t know, but I can only hope.


3 thoughts on “The Canary in the Coal Mine

  1. Very honest post, Sasha. I can certainly relate to those times where one feels un-creative and uninspired. 😦 Here’s hoping you get through your block! This post was very well written and creative 🙂 That’s a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

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