The Art of Struggle
April 24, 2020
These last two weeks have been really rough for me. I’ve lost the motivation to do almost anything, especially schoolwork. As bad things continue to happen to myself, my family, and my friends, I’ve stopped seeing the point in doing tasks just to get a good grade. Why should I care about my grades when I should be worried about getting denied unemployment?
Within two days, I’ve found out that two people I know have coronavirus. That’s been really hard. Even when I thought I might have gotten it when I came back from Europe, I wasn’t very concerned. But that’s because I can control what happens to me (for the most part). I can’t control what happens to those I’m not even allowed to see because of quarantine.
I’m starting to slip back into depression. Not exactly because I hate being in quarantine, but because of the loneliness. I don’t mind being at home, I’m usually more of a homebody anyway. I’m used to living in a sorority house where I can just walk down the hall and find someone to talk to. Now, I’m lucky if I text two friends a day.
I just can’t find the motivation to talk to other people. I don’t want to talk about coronavirus, and I don’t think I’m interesting enough to start a conversation with someone about how my quarantine life is going. I talk to my mom a lot because we’re quarantining together, but even then, there’s only so much we can talk about. I see my dad once a week, but still, all we can talk about is the virus. I miss telling stories. I feel like there are no stories to tell.
Money’s getting tight. My unemployment hasn’t gone through for two weeks now, because there’s an ‘error in my account’. No matter how I try to address this error, I’m led to dead ends.
I’m one of the lucky students who wasn’t claimed as a dependent this year, so I should be getting a stimulus payment. But there’s a glitch in that system, too, and because of that, I have no idea when the payment is coming, or if it’s even coming at all. I check my bank account twice a day because I’m afraid of how low the numbers are getting.
The silver lining in all of this is that my desperate need for cash caused me to be creative again. All of quarantine, I’ve been starting projects and abandoning them because I don’t see a point in finishing. I decided this week I needed to simplify, so I painted something unlike I’ve ever done before: just a few lines and shapes.
Normally, I paint and draw hyper-realistic portraits that take up to twenty hours. This new piece I made took just about an hour, and it was the first thing I’d finished in weeks.
Excited about the fact that I actually finished something, I posted this picture of my painting to both Instagram and Facebook. Immediately, people began messaging me asking if they could buy it. I’ve had an open commission for over a year, and no one’s ever bought anything I’ve made. Suddenly, I felt popular.
For those who messaged me, I made copies of the painting. After making a few sales, I got the idea to continue painting, but not just copying my original piece. I was going to make more original art, custom to every customer I got.
I posted to my Facebook page that I was going to be making more pieces. For $10 (plus $5 shipping), I would make anyone a custom piece. All they had to do was send me emotion and three colors. From there, I would create a similar piece based on those things and send them to the customer.
Immediately, more people messaged me saying they wanted a piece, and I had three new commissions within fifteen minutes of posting.
As soon as I got the commissions, I started painting. The emotions given for the paintings above in order are Wistful, Confidence, and Hope. I finished each of the paintings within 24 hours of receiving the commissions because I was so excited to create for others.
I think it was the first time in weeks I’d felt genuine excitement. I was finally able to create again without wanting to give up.
On top of it, I was making a little income, which has already helped me tremendously. Plus, after posting these pictures again on my social media, more commissions have started to come in. People want bigger pieces, some even a collection of pieces. All because of one little picture I made when I thought I had lost all creativity.
I’m still struggling. I don’t think I’m going to not struggle for a while. But I’ve been able to find an outlet, and that has made a world of a difference for me. I still don’t want to do my homework. I still don’t really want to talk about coronavirus. But right now, I want to paint, and wanting to do something is all I can ask for.