Tap, tap, tap...
Is this thing on? Should I dust off this keyboard? Are any of you....still here? Still listening? Still occasionally poking your head in the doorway to see if anything has changed? Or is it just as I feared? An empty room where my lone voice is now echoing? Or perhaps I wanted an empty room all along? A place where I could feel less pressure and fewer eyeballs on me? Whew, there I go again. Asking a million questions before I even start.
So let's do it. Let's just...start.
To be honest, I've thought about drafting this post many times, months ago. And like most things that make me anxious, nervous or just plain scared, I put it off. The longer I put it off, the more I kept telling myself, "Surely, you have other things that need to be done." Which, to be entirely fair to myself in a moment of indulgent self defense, isn't necessarily untrue. I've been busy. Or maybe a better way to describe it is a hybrid of busy and distracted — a frantic dance of staying busy to keep up with the distractions of...oh, where is that elephant in the room...ah yes, there she is hiding in the corner: social media.
Before we continue, I know what you're thinking. "Another content creator complaining about social media?" Trust me, I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now, too. I've written about my problematic relationship with social media many times so I'll spare you the tiny violin solo, but for anyone who also struggles with social anxiety to the extent I do, perhaps today's post might hit home for you. Or at least make you feel a tiny bit less alone in the never ending scrolling of 7 second videos that convince us we need to be everything and everyone, all the time.
It hit me hardest when we were in Italy this past summer. Somehow, surrounded by olive groves in the morning, Renaissance masterpieces in the afternoon and all the pasta and gelato I could muster each night, I couldn't shake a sense of mourning. A mourning for a parallel version of my life that looked and felt and smelled and tasted like mine, but one that wasn't beholden to social media in the same way. One that didn't look at a beautiful village corner and immediately think of a video idea. One that didn't automatically pull out a phone or a camera to capture the moment before the moment even happened. One that didn't obsess over how to overshare a vacation while simultaneously making it look effortless and inspiring. And one that definitely didn't spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about an opaque algorithm's effect on my self-worth as a creative.
In a very "Everything Everywhere All At Once" multiverse kind of way, I kept seeing glimpses of this other Krystal actually experiencing her vacation first hand, while my Krystal was only experiencing it second hand, afraid to let moments go without capturing them somehow to share on the internet later.
This feeling wasn't new for me. This feeling has been growing for quite some time now. I suppose that trip was the first time I saw that other Krystal very clearly and instead of indifference or curiosity, I was envious of her.
Now, I realize in the scheme of things, how obnoxious this all sounds. There are bigger problems in the world. Much bigger. And my inability to separate work and personal life is low on the totem pole of things that truly matter. So I tried to do what any sane, rational person might do when they need perspective. I decided I needed to lighten my load. Take a break in the ways that I could.
Hence, my silence here on the blog.
Perhaps that seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider how active I've been elsewhere on the internet. But as someone who loves to spend time on her writing in an age where we give less and less of our time to reading in general, it felt like the biggest weight to offload in a sense. I focused my energy on the platforms that pay my bills and I tried to disconnect beyond that. I set out to free up as much headspace as I could to try to figure out what I actually wanted to fill my headspace with. (Spoiler: the jury is still out on that one but it fluctuates wildly between moving upstate to renovate an old barn and moving to Tuscany and opening a flower/book and antique shop.)
The point is perhaps best summed up in this Austin Kleon quote I stumbled across some months ago: "Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing. I get some of my best ideas when I'm bored, which is why I never take my shirts to the cleaners. I love ironing my shirts-it's so boring, I almost always get good ideas. If you're out of ideas, wash the dishes. Take really long walk. Stare at a spot on the wall for as long as you can. As the artist Maira Kalman says, 'Avoiding work is the way to focus my mind.'"
For over the past decade, I've been very good at filling all my waking hours with productivity. Hustle culture: the calling card of any millennial, right? And with the advent of social media necessitating so much of our attention spans to remain relevant and highly ranked in an algorithm, I needed to release some of the mounting pressure I was putting on myself to keep everything running all the time. And this space, as much as I loved it, was a strain I just couldn't juggle anymore.
I needed time back so I could be bored again. Boredom! Sweet boredom!
The only tricky thing about seeking boredom as a recovering workaholic? It doesn't come naturally. And it takes a great deal of unlearning. Many months in and I'm still unlearning. But the point isn't to demand progress. It's to encourage small habits.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, Ty and I stayed at our friends' Courtney and Eric's house in upstate New York, while they were out of the country. It was the first time since our trip to Italy where we had been in a house with lots of open space to just relax, read, make meals in a kitchen larger than ours (for the record, that's not hard to beat) and play with our puppy Etta in the backyard. A previous version of Krystal may have jumped at the chance to create a ton of content in her new environment and I'd be lying if I didn't give in to her once or twice. But for the most part? We leaned into our boredom. We watched the snow fall. We talked about life plans. We slept in. We made coffee and instead of sipping it while looking at phones, I watched out the windows for groups of deer and the occasional bunny to pass by. And generally, lost track of time. As you can imagine, it was wonderfully not productive and I felt amazing afterward.
Tap, tap, tap...is this thing on?
Well if it is and you're still here reading this rambling, poorly written update — this is my very long winded way of saying, I've been reflecting and reveling in my own boredom lately and wanted to check in to say: I miss you. I miss writing out my longwinded thoughts, even if they don't really make sense sometimes. I miss flexing this part of my brain. I miss finding solace in long form content. I miss connecting over shared Stories. I miss planning photoshoots. I miss the pace of this community. I miss this space.
I won't pretend to have a slew of prepared blog posts ready to go in the days to come because I don't. I may even drop off the grid again — who knows? But for the first time in a long time, I'm finally seeing this space not as another thing on my never ending to-do list but as a way to channel my boredom creatively again. Much like I did all those years ago when I first started This Time Tomorrow as an outlet from a day job I felt listless in. A place I took comfort in. A place where I didn't worry about perfection or performance or likes or comments. Just a place to be and explore my own boredom to see where it might lead me.
If you're here still, thank you. And if you're not, I hope you're busy being bored and loving every delicious minute of it.
Photography by Marcus Richardson on location at Prospect Park