In the zone

I’m quite the creature of habit. I find myself returning to familiar projects and favourite books, time and again. When things are busy and I am craving just a stolen moment or two of something creative to ground myself, having a project I can pick up without needing to think too hard about it is handy.

There’s very few times though, where I’ve regretted pushing myself out of my cozy little comfort zone. Going to pottery class, not knowing anyone else there, it was rather nerve inducing. I’m very much a socially awkward turtle, and three hours making small talk with strangers is not my most naturally occurring skill set. And yet I went, met some lovely people and had so much fun I did it a second time. Likewise, when I first started taking myself out, for a drink and a chapter of my book, when I had a spare half hour child free, it took a few weeks for me to stop feeling strange about it and settle in to it just being something I do.

In the early days of lockdown, the very first one, I started doing weekly videos in my Instagram stories. It gave my an about in my week, and a chance to try something new. In part, it was a trial run for this silly little idea I had floating around in my mind for a podcast. Could I actually talk out loud, with other people listening?

In these first videos, I’d chat about what I was making, and show off my projects, and what I was planning on doing for the week to come. The setup was the same every week – my projects laid out on the table, my notepad front and centre. I could chat enough about what I was up to that my videos would be spread over for stories, or more. The actual visuals though? It was flat lay all the way. Table and projects only. A hand or two to point stuff out. Not a chance I would show my face. Nope. Nuh-uh. Not going to happen.

Fast forward two years, and I was once again doing little “what am I working on today” videos. This time, though, was very different. Day one, I thought I would need do a little explainer video, on camera, so the incoming video series made sense. Maybe, then, maybe this was a chance to push my comfort zone once more, and I could talk to the camera, not just share what was on my table. Podcasting had been completely terrifying when we started, and yet I’d managed to find my comfort zone with that. Maybe I could do that with video stories as well?

Turns out, I could. Day one was scary – watching the video I can see how nervous I was, bluffing my way through, trying to pretend I was fine with it. By day three I was relaxed into it. By the end of the week, I’d internalised it as part of my daily routine, and most of my videos were me talking at the camera, with only a smattering of “on the table videos”. I enjoyed this different form of content creating so much that I’m thinking I might do something ongoing. Once a week? Once a month? I saw a post yesterday about Vlogmas and was like…oh I could have done that. Apparently, I have found my comfort zone with video.

For me, it’s easier to push out of my comfort zone when it’s low stakes. Insta stories last for 24 hours, then they are gone. Sure, I saved my videos to a highlight, but that’s more for me to refer back to. How many people actually look at highlights, unless directed there for something specific? I think that’s why it works for me. I don’t need to over-produce and do a heap of editing, because it’s ephemeral. It’s a low key chat to my insta friends, and then it’s gone. YouTube, on the other hand, requires next level everything. Equipment. Editing. Smooth transitions. Pretty backgrounds. I couldn’t show up there with a messy bun and my favourite tank top, sitting on the ground winding floss or yarn and having a chat.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is scary for sure. More often than not, though, I find myself having fun. What I learn out there adds depth to my creative process. Whether it be a new hobby, or a new content form, or a new social outlet, there’s always more to gain by trying, if I can just get out of my own way.

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