Thousands of people take part in a drawing challenge every October called Inktober, and though I’ve participated many times before, it’d been a while since my last one. I decided to make sure it was one of my monthly challenges this year since I don’t always do it, but am always glad to have done so in the end. I traveled a bit in October and didn’t draw everyday, but I still ended up with 31 drawings for the month.
I have a true love-hate relationship with this challenge. The end result is always something I’m proud to have done, but getting there, at least for me, might be harder than the average onlooker might think. My drawing style isn’t very technical or time consuming, and the act of drawing itself brings me peace, but coming up with interesting ideas is always the hardest part. I pull a lot from the well of my everyday thoughts and feelings, but wells dry up fast when you’re drawing from them everyday. Guess if it wasn’t a challenge though, wouldn’t feel as rewarding.
I share my Inktober drawings on social media for the friends, family and even strangers who seem to genuinely enjoy watching them unfold, and in return I appreciate the appreciation. But I hadn’t been on Instagram in some time. I took a month long break from it that snowballed into almost 2 years. Logging in after that long was a weird thing. Like opening a time-capsule buried by people you almost forgot about entirely. Where I remembered newborn babies, I now saw toddlers with personalities and new siblings. New cities, new houses, new lives. Everyone sharing everything except for the not so fun parts.
I know what’s shared on social media is in most cases meticulously filtered and curated, but seeing it all, all the time, somehow still makes me feel low. The knowing doesn’t seem to be enough. Maybe it’s envy. Not in a keeping up with the Joneses kind of way, but maybe just wanting in on some of that never ending happiness everyone appears to be experiencing all the time. This is the feeling that drove me away from it in the first place. I feel better without it, and oddly enough, it was a drawing challenge that reaffirmed that belief in me. I deleted Instagram again about a week after the challenge ended, but I’ll surely be back for my next Inktober. What I can’t say is if I’ll ever do all 31 days again, because man, by the end of it that well was bone dry.
It’s inktober 1st. It’s a busy time for me right now, so I’m just going to be doing a half marathon and posting every other day. So contrary to this doodle, I’m thinking this year is more of a graceful backflop than an olympic precision dive, but still the right spirit.
My one-thousandth post. Took me seven years. A lot of time and work. I wonder now, have I accomplished anything? Was I even trying to? Have I gotten back what I put in? Absolutely.
I started doing all this when I was twenty years old, jobless, and in college. Thought employers might like it. Turns out they did. It brought me 2,700 miles to California, and changed my life forever.
I’m twenty-seven now, and still at it. After seven years, my work now rests in the homes of good friends and total strangers. The times I live in have allowed it to be seen and appreciated by tens of thousands of people, across entire oceans and languages. Weird and awesome to think about. I never set out to accomplish any of these things, but I’m glad I have. I’m sure this is all sounding a bit pretentious, but I don’t care. I am proud of what I’ve done here.