Go out—you gotta get new material

“I just need to lay here…and not move for a second.”

Maranie slid down until her back lay flat against the stone. I stayed upright, sitting cross-legged in front of her. If I laid down, I was gonna get the spins.

“I’m so happy to be alive right now,” she said.

That made me happy. It was Sunday, and we were positioned directly behind the Capitol. There actually weren’t that many tourists around—surprising, considering it was Cherry Blossom season.

I was wearing spandex shorts that fit me two sizes ago. Ideally, this was intended to get some sort of color on my white-ass legs. In reality, I was too hungover to put pants on. Two birds, one stone.

“Today really could not get any better,” I agreed.

Maranie and I are different in a lot of ways. Different being, the hours we prefer to be awake, our Spotify playlists, and the contents of our breakfast bowl. In other ways, we are eerily similar. We both write and photograph for a living. We each ran Division I track. We are both inexplicably competitive, a little neurotic, and bury ourselves under five tons worth of guilt when not working. Within an hour of arriving in DC the night before, she said, “I swear I’m listening!” three times. She multitasked the shit out of our catch-up sesh, editing photos in Lightroom with one hand, and holding her wine glass with the other.

The fact that the two of us hadn’t brought cameras, laptops, or fully-charged phones on our trek across DC was a freaking miracle.

You will never find inspiration while buried in your laptop.

You know what my absolute worst habit is? No, it’s not biting my nails, even though I’m twenty-seven years old. It’s not getting thousands of dollars worth of parking tickets. My worst habit is leaving work at work, and life with life. My Mac is my safety blanket. When it’s open, I’m relaxed. When it’s closed, I keep thinking about the million other things I should be doing.

I hate this about myself. I really, really do. It impacts my relationships as well as my general sanity.

This horrible habit came to an all-time high about three-months ago. I was stressed-out beyond all belief with my job, waking up in the middle of night in panic, and getting texts from my CEO on the weekends. One time, my friend Keena asked me to go get our nails done. My response? “I’ll go. But I need to have my laptop and cell on me in case my CEO calls. And you need to let that be ok.”

Someone, PLEASE punch me in the face.

Thinking we’re productive only when we’re stressed is bullshit.

A few weeks ago, I texted Keena, Was I like…a really bad friend while I was at that job?? Of all my friends in the world, Keena is the most blunt (i.e. most like me). She must have really felt bad for me, because she left me off the hook and said, You were just really stressed all the time. And you carried that stress wherever you went.

Here’s the thing about super Type-A, workaholic people: We find comfort in stress and guilt and relaxation. We feel bad sitting outside and soaking up the first real sun of the year, going out and getting sh*tfaced with friends, knowing we’ll be too bulldozed to do anything productive the next day.

BUT.

Those times are what allow us to be productive. Do you understand that? Recanting nights we can barely remember, enjoying the cities we live in, spending time with friends who might move away in a few years (or weeks!)—these things give us material. They give us inspiration.

Going out and living life is what gives us material.

Good grief, if I never went out with my friends, what the hell would I write about? My life would be SO BORING, none of you people would ever read about it! Do you know when I get writers’ block? When I’ve been such a hermit with my head stuck inside my laptop, I can’t think of anything to talk about!

If you read my last post, you know Maranie almost didn’t visit DC. When she asked me to convince her otherwise, I finished my list of reasons with “A change of scene for a couple days can always give you a jolt of inspiration.” Does it not?

We need to work in order to make a living, but we also need inspiration in order to work.

Meeting new people, exploring new places (or your own hometown), gaining a new perspective—these experiences challenge our brain and our typical way of thinking. The time spent away from the office and our laptops is, more often than not, what allows us to maximize our time when those laptops are open.

So far, I got two blog posts out of this Sunday. That hour spent at the Capitol, wearing inappropriately short-shorts and talking like I’d never taken a shot before, turned out to be one of the most valuable hours of my workweek.

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You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.