Inner Revolution by Kiara Ama Jade Callender IG: @kiarakalindastudio
Obviously, 2020 has been an eventful year. It has taught us a lot and revealed many hidden truths (be it political or existential), and most importantly confronted us with the fact that change is natural and inevitable. I understand that everything may feel rather chaotic right now, and many of us would like to write this year off completely. I invite you, however, to pause
and savour this rare and precious moment of stillness.
“While there are places that linear thinking is invaluable…, living life as if it were predictably linear is a huge hindrance to creativity, joy, and sanity… In modern times, you might feel a sense of separation from the cyclical nature of change. Electric lights, fixed work hours, and linear thinking all distance you from the natural ebb and flow of the natural world." (Amara, 2014)
While everything slowed down, and the economy ground to a halt, we were granted the chance to go inwards and reflect, reconnect with ourselves, and our communities. This reset is global, not only geographically, but in the sense that its effects are holistic. We are experiencing a shift in lifestyle, consciousness, and the realities that we inhabit (e.g. the merging of the physical and digital). And most importantly we are understanding how interconnected these things are.
Things will never go back to “normal”. So, this is the time to experiment, innovate, and invent more resilient and sustainable models of working. This is your chance to shape The New Norm. Exercise your agency, and don’t let anyone take it away from you.
The biggest takeaway for me this year has been the importance of work-life balance. When you’re passionate about your craft and want to make sure everything is perfect, it’s easy to let work consume your day to day, even more so now when it feels like all there is to do is work. Furthermore, we’ve too often been taught to identify with and value ourselves by what we do and how much we produce that many of us have lost our sense of self. Since I was a child I’ve been conditioned and institutionalised to put grades and achievements before everything. In March, I caught the virus and was completely burnt out. I wasn’t even granted more than 1 day sick leave from work; it can feel like our society views people as robots or limitless resources. Since then I’ve really learnt the importance of listening to my body, and respecting its limits.
This year one of my goals was to experience a freelancer’s schedule. Being back in control of your time means you must apply your time and energy wisely. As things have been changing so frequently I’ve had to re-assess my current priorities and question existing concepts of productivity. I’m learning to set my own pace, and I’m slowly finding my rhythm!
Understanding cyclical living- image author's own
Dealing with unforeseen personal circumstances has forced me to accept that inner work is work too (e.g. meditation, journaling, daily affirmations, counselling). These are things that require time and energy, and putting in the work now will pay off in all areas of your life, especially if you’re experiencing low confidence, anxiety, or mental ill-health. (NB: If you’re working a 9-5 maybe don’t tell you boss this, but at least try to factor them into your day) I’ve learnt that you truly cannot give from an empty cup. Honouring my low points, constantly being aware of and re-evaluating my capacity to produce, and learning to say no have become vital tools!
Some may think this is laziness but I call it working efficiently. It makes it easier to focus on the most important projects, rather than spreading oneself thin. Working incrementally (a few hours of focused work a day), switching activities and taking yoga breaks to fragment your screentime... I’ve had to fight a lot of self-judgment and frustration, but I’m noticing an increase in my productivity as I rest more. Discipline and consistency are key, and project management and spreadsheets that are realistic and allow for contingency help, especially when you’re managing multiple projects. If you’re interested in freelancing, these are all invaluable lifeskills.
It’s funny because this time last year I was fantising about travelling the world completing artist residencies in the Caribbean and working for renowned installation design firms. At the end of last term, I almost dropped out of the DPS year as I realised the physical spaces that I wanted to design and would most likely not be needed. I had to re-evaluate my purpose for the year, and open to the concept of digital practice. I’ve adopted more of an entrepreneurial focus for the first term of DPS; I’m experimenting with my craft and upskilling.
Since September I’ve been attending a short course in Sound Design for Creative Media. My primary goal was to get the formal training so I can produce better quality sound for my multimedia installations. I’ve grown to appreciate how relevant this skill now is given the increase in virtual and gaming experiences; creatively designed sound can augmented purely visual work by adding a much more palpable and immersive element. The Not Just a Shop live brief is also giving me the chance to action my dream of getting into collectible design; I’m very excited to start my first product design project with mentoring on the business side of things too.
I must say that I couldn’t be more grateful to have the safety net of living with my parents, which massively caps my current expenses, but I am hoping when(/if) this is over next month, I can start my paid position as a gallery host which was postponed due to lockdown. In the coming weeks I’ll be building relationships with and reaching out to workplaces, so that I can balance revenue-generating activities with unpaid positions. Whatever the case is, I remain trusting and hopeful that I will continue to learn and grow throughout.
“Often we miss the immensity of our being by focusing on the details and dramas around us. We stay in the crust of life and forget the depth of connection we are capable of. Life flows, swiftly bringing change and growth... Cyclical living teaches us to embrace the ups and downs of life.” (Amara, 2014)
natural cycles- image author's own
References Amara, H., 2014. Warrior Goddess Training: Become The Woman You Are Meant To Be. London: Hay House Publishing, pp.16-19.