One day, during a car ride, I launched into a mini rant. I said to Hubster, “You know. I don’t know what happened to me. I used to be so much more creative than I am. I used to be goofy and silly and I don’t think I ever knew how much people didn’t like me, so I never cared and always just did things the way I did them because that’s all I knew. I mean, if you didn’t know that people didn’t like how you were acting, then why would you get self conscious right? So what happened? I mean, I’m so self-conscious, so rigid, so uptight and I know for a fact that I’m not as creative as I used to! I used to read 10 books a week and could finish a book day! When I was a teenager, I would even read 5 books simultaneously! You know how many books I’ve read this week? 0. I used to never be seen without a book! That’s all I did was read. That’s why I was often told by people that I’m well-read. I don’t feel well-read anymore. In fact, I feel dull and ordinary…”
Of course, all those are just paraphrased and while the rant did happen, I don’t think it happened in such an orderly manner and with so many coherent thoughts all at once.
That said, the ideas still stand. What happened?
I started drawing when I was old enough to comprehend what drawing was. I started reading when I was old enough to comprehend alphabets which I think was at a very early age of probably 4 or 5 (I don’t know the exact date but I have a rough idea because I know I had become a proficient reader before my brother was born). I would read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and I would even recite it to my parents from memory. I distinctly remember an incident where I had recited the story from memory to my mother and she had marveled at how well I remembered the story. I think I remember that incident because it’s one of the very few times where I actually remember an affirmation as a child.
I was raised in a lower middle class family – while we’re not poor per se and always had food the table, we also never had many luxuries. We had a radio which for a long time was our source of entertainment. Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs and some of the toys were too. I had Legos to play and books to read. So I read. I read so much that we would go to the library often so that I could check out more books. I also got into Enid Blyton – a series written by a British author who is very well known for her children’s books.
So through all that, I had a very rich imagination with a strong grasp of language and drawing. With what I know now of my mental health, I realize that I’ve always had ADHD – even as a child. I remember an incident where my teacher had alerted my mother to what she thought was a developmental disorder. She thought I had dyslexia because I couldn’t write certain alphabets correctly. I guess now I know that it wasn’t dyslexia – it was ADHD. I think they tested me for dyslexia but I don’t think I presented enough evidence for it so they dropped the matter and my mental and developmental health was never looked into again.
Anyway, back to the point. I realize now that a huge part of why I “lost” my creativity and love for books could be blamed in part on technology. See, I never had a computer or any electronic devices until I was probably 18 or 19. I had my first Intel Celeron computer around that age while my friends were already well into their 3rd or 4th electronic device by that point. I had often begged for a computer or a Gameboy but never got one due to our financial constraints.
When I finally did get a computer, I think I tried to make up for lost time and spent a lot of time on it. I still read but as I grew proficient with the computer, I lost more and more of my passion for reading. By the time I was in college, I think I probably only read half of what I used to. And now, at 30 years of age, I’ve barely read half a dozen books (completely) this year. Sure, I’ve started drawing a lot more than when I was a child and that part of my creativity is still intact but my passion for reading and exploring vast unknown worlds in my mind has dwindled considerably.
While I shouldn’t blame technology per se since I have the choice to power down and unplug, I find myself almost unable to do so. It’s an addiction, for sure. And I wonder now as I reflect on this, how much my addiction to technology (and all the things related to it such as needing approval from complete strangers on the Internet) has also contributed to my downward spiral of depression.
Maybe I need to perform an experiment in which I power down and unplug for a few days and see if my mental health improves. That should be an interesting challenge because I know that my computer and phone could almost be surgically attached to me…