Each of these #DigitalDetox challenges are meant to be a way for me to explore a part of myself that has been long forgotten. Not only am I doing things that disconnect me from the internet world, even for a short time, but I'm also doing some activities that I had once done and no longer do for whatever reason.
This last week has been an emotional roller coaster. I started the week with the pressure of trying to finish an editorial contract (a big job), but we were still under Level 3 lockdown (more on that below). Other tasks were piling up, and the energy was gone. And I knew I needed to put the #DigitalDetox challenge into the mix, so I forced myself.
This week's challenge was to draw a self-portrait. I'm not artistic in the visual sense, so unless I wanted to resort to drawing stick figures, I chose another approach.
Instead of creating a visual self-portrait, I chose to create a literary self-portrait. I won't be sharing the literary self-portrait with the world, but it was an interesting exercise.
Level 3 lockdown is not fun!
In case you haven't figured it out, I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. We are not a COVID-free nation, but we are a nation who took the fight against COVID to extreme measures. The moment that we discovered COVID Delta in our community, we went into Level 4 lockdown. It was a matter of hours' warning. And I almost couldn't get the toilet paper that my family needed.
Yeah, it sounds funny now, but I'm soooo over it. Level 4 lockdown (and Level 3 lockdown) means that I have my entire family home and underfoot. I have one teenager struggling to do home learning for her second to last year in high school (stressing out, because she's behind in her studies thanks to a concussion she got a few months back) and I have a nearly-20-year-old struggling to keep motivated to watch lectures and do assignments for his second year at university. My children were not wired for online, self-driven learning. They both need that external accountability. Throw in the online Zoom dance classes and I was going completely mental.
We are currently in Level 2 lockdown, meaning that my daughter is now back on campus (both for school and her dance). My son can return to campus too, but in a restricted capacity. And me...
I really don't like this mandatory mask rule. I'll do it, because it's about public safety, but I don't have to like it.
But the stress that Level 4 and Level 3 lockdown added to my life was something that I really didn't need. Add to it the regular pressures that I have with client work and my personal writing projects, and I was... Correction: I AM exhausted.
And this impacted on my attitude and the self-discovery learning of this week's #DigitalDetox challenge.
Doing a literary self-portrait
A literary self-portrait is a simple idea. The key is to not let your brain think and self-edit. You take a good five minutes and just write down as many words as possible to describe yourself. They can be disjointed thoughts, or even just a random list of words. To start with, you will likely focus on the things that you want the world to see, how you want the world to see you, but as time carries on, you start getting to the subconscious thoughts as they bubble to the surface.
And the words that sometimes find the page... They hurt. But it's a truth that our subconscious wants us to hear.
My own words kept flipping from the good to the bad. It was a war of my subconscious brain trying to scream out for help in all the pressure, but a sense of pride in all that I've somehow managed to achieve. And as I reflect on the exercise, it was my subconscious telling my conscious brain to just back off and take the time to relish in the joy.
The journal entry
I did the coloring page, and I really wasn't that motivated. I struggled to find the joy in doing it. And looking at the photos of it, I think it shows.
But what was more telling of my mental mindset of the week was my literary self-portrait. While I won't be sharing that literary creation, I do what to share the journal entry itself.
Instead of a visual art self portrait, I chose to do a literary art self portrait. The words that found the page were not all nice words. They were words of a woman who is feeling overwhelmed and barely treading water. There are good days and bad days, and this week was a bad week.
We're leaving this challenge behind and not looking back.
I have shared my literary self-portrait with my husband, because he needs to understand how this week was not a good week. He said that it was half and half, with positives and negative, but he could see the underlying message and the cries for help.
I'm sure that next week's challenge will go much better. And I'm sure that my husband will be part of the reason why.
Next week's challenge
Well, looking at the challenge for this coming week, I guess it's a good thing that I repeated a challenge a few weeks ago, because this week's challenge is Climb up a hill and enjoy the view.
Under Level 4 or Level 3 lockdown, climbing a hill wouldn't have been possible. I live on the flat of Christchurch. Driving to even the Port Hills would have been prohibited. But under Level 2...
I might see if my husband is keen to go for a walk up the Sugar Loaf tomorrow.
How have you been going with your own #DigitalDetox challenges? Are you feeling the pressures and stress of the pandemic like I am? Let's have that supportive chat. Maybe we can see the way through this together.