Impossible circumstances have always made me.
I hate them. I hate feeling restricted, terrified, overwhelmed, out of my league, pressured, stressed. But I’ve faced situations like this over and over again in my short life, and they have always yielded greater results and impressive creativity from me than I ever thought myself capable of.
Can you relate?
My time as an expat living in Ireland hasn’t been a breeze, especially when it comes to living situations. And friendships. And school. And jobs. Actually it’s been a hot mess. But it’s also been epic.
After my first living situation here fell apart (and I mean like blew up like dark matter colliding), I found a small apartment very near town, school, and work for me, where I would live with a good friend of mine. After such a traumatic experience, it was like “HALLELUJAH!”
And in an effort to save money, I said I would take the smaller room.
Here in Ireland, the smallest bedroom is called the box room….
Because you feel like you’re literally living in a cardboard box.
I had a single bed, a small wardrobe, a slab of marble glued to the wall between the doorway and the wardrobe that I think was supposed to be a desk. And the only space left for the trash can after all of this was the little space at the foot of the bed between the bed and the window. Oh and this room was freaking filthy! Like seriously. You’ve never seen so much dust come through a window in your life. And it was freezing. The entire apartment could be (and often was) absolutely roasting, and my poor little box room was always freezing.
But I wanted to make it work. I loved where the apartment was, I liked who I was living with, and I finally had a bit of space that was both mine and that I could do whatever I wanted with!
The real problem came when I moved in. And my stuff could barely made it in the door with me.
As an expat who loves to travel and will probably be moving on in the next few months, I don’t have that much stuff. Well, my mother might disagree, but in comparison to what I have back in Virginia, what I’ve accumulated to my name here in Ireland is like literally nothing.
Yet I literally couldn’t fit it in the room.
It definitely seemed impossible to find space, home, comfort, and relaxation in a room that looked like an avalanche of clothes blew up in a terrible nuclear experiment gone wrong.
So I got creative. (Try not to be impressed here.)
The clothes wouldn’t all fit in the wardrobe, so I started using my desk chair as another drawer. My boyfriend kept my winter coats in his house until it got so cold in my room that I needed to wear them while I slept.
But I got creative some more. I put stuff in weird places. I decorated. I made it my own. I slept in winter coats.
It was all good.
And I was really proud of myself for making a teeny, tiny student apartment feel like home.
Over time, however, it became even more obvious that not only did I have to get creative about how to live day-to-day in that small room, but I also had to get creative about where and how I could work.
I was in the middle of writing my Masters dissertation, and it had to be done. Not finishing it because of the distraction of a coffee shop, the stress of a small, cluttered room, or the noise of a late-night-fun-loving roommate couldn’t stop me. Never finishing wasn’t even in my thought process. I had to finish, and clearly I had to get creative about how to get myself to create the project, about how to imagine the subject itself, and about how to ever finish the project in the weirdest working situation I could imagine.
Not only is writing a Masters dissertation an impossible-looking task – especially when you’re writing a program from scratch when you only learned to code a few months before – but doing it without a big desk of home base organization to lean on seems even more impossible still.
But I got creative. Again.
I put up post-its with deadlines, making them easily tossed out when they weren’t working. I put more clothes in the boyfriend’s how to clear some space for thinking, and I even spent a few days on his living room couch when my apartment (read: fun-loving roommate) got too loud. A Starbucks opened in town – the only coffee shop in Ireland where you can sit for a few hours with your laptop and not have barstaff or baristas glaring at you for taking up too much breathing space – and I went to work for a few hours at a time.
Some things worked, some things didn’t. When something wasn’t working in my process, I threw it out, as unattached as I could get myself to be. After all, not finishing wasn’t an option.
And I finished.
Not finishing is still not an option (let’s be real, it’s never been an option). Except these days, instead of writing a complicated beat-tracking software program, I’m writing blog posts and ebooks, working with writers and creative entrepreneurs, and creating and learning right along with you beautiful reader.
And just like my thesis writing, when something doesn’t work out as I expect it to, I have to throw it out and try again.
We set goals, but we don’t have to set how we’re getting there.
In fact, we can’t possibly know the “right” way to get where we are going until we’ve gotten there and we look back. In writing my thesis, I had envisioned myself sprawled out at a big, beautiful white wood desk with all my code working the first time testing. But instead I found myself at a tiny marble slab or taking up a few tables at Starbucks.
I had to adapt and get creative in that process if I wanted it to go anywhere.
And now I have to do the same thing again. And so do you.
We can get creative. We can change our process. We can throw out things that aren’t working and brainstorm more ways to get it to work.
The important thing is to set the goal, and then show up every day making your way to it.
Even on the days that it seems impossible to do so.
Impossible circumstances bring out the incredible in us.
I’ve gotten creative in my living situation and in my career and in my schoolwork. I’m sure you’ve done the same. Ever had a looming deadline that made you want to cry and curl up into a hole?
Or did you kick that deadline’s derriere?
Just like people say put love everywhere, I want to challenge you (and me) this week to put creativity everywhere. In all of our work interactions, in our personal habits, in the way we organize our schedules and what we prioritize.
You’re probably facing an impossible challenge right now. Maybe you’re facing a work or school deadline. Maybe your boss is driving you bananas. Maybe you’re struggling to find your next move or maybe you’re just trying to find the five bucks to buy that delicious coffee. (Like, why is coffee so expensive? Count yourself grateful that your coffee price isn’t in euros!)
Whatever your impossible circumstances this week, make them work for you.
The impossible makes you. It makes your awesome stories that you share at parties. It makes your greatest challenges, and it makes you find and achieve your greatest accomplishments. It makes our lives, and it makes us who we are.
Face the impossible with creativity.
Put your creativity everywhere. Get creative. Get flexible. Stretch yourself.
So, how are you going to get creative with your work, your writing, your life this week? I’d love to hear about any A-HA moments you had reading this in the comments below!!
Get going. The impossible is waiting.
Sarah Elizabeth xx
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P.P.S. Want to work with me?
I love me some good creativity! If you’re looking to dive deeper into your creativity and improve your communication plan in your business or blog, give me a call! We might be a perfect fit!