In the past three years, the most valuable lesson I have learned is the importance of self-care. As a creative person, I constantly have a wellspring of ideas that I can’t wait to put on paper. The problem is, when I started each of those projects, I left very little time for myself. I started Color Story Magazine in the summer of 2016, with ambitious plans to design and publish my own magazine once a month. As I got started, I realized that even with my optimism and resilience, this was impossible. Working full-time, being a full-time journalism student, spending time with family and friends, doing freelance makeup, and starting a magazine seemed to sound insane to everyone but me. I took pride in juggling each commitment and giving each one equal attention—until I burned out. I mean like ugly cry, ruin your mascara in the car, burnout. Not the best time for a selfie, right?
As an older millennial, I can appreciate the warm fuzziness of a handwritten letter and the ability to send someone a quick email. I understand the balance of powering through life and also slowing down to observe my surroundings. This sense of balance gives me an edge in the creative field, because I’m able to connect with audiences of all ages. As technology evolves however, so do stress levels. In the fabulous book “Burnout” by Nagoski sisters Emily and Amelia, I found comfort in reading that stress is a cycle. As millennials, there is so much expected from us on a daily basis—and it almost always results in burnout. As a creative from any generation, when we produce something that everyone seems to love, we feel pressured to make more—and fast. How can we make the cycle of stress easier to manage? After three years in DC, I found the answer.
When I met Otessa Ghadar, I knew she would be someone who would be in my life for years to come. Being resilient Taurean women, we have a similar work ethic and tend to think we are immune to burnout, when the truth is; we need to take breaks too. DC Webfest opened an entire network of possibilities for me, and introduced me to a sea of new people and ideas. When I spoke with Otessa about the 2019 DC Web Fest, she said, “I think the theme of the year for me is DC as a creative/cultural destination…and how to improve the connections between creators. That’s what this 7th year is meant to do—to build that creative connective tissue; so we all have more support and know who is there for us and we can mutually uplift.” I couldn’t help but smile, because as good as that sounds, the reality of it is even better.
Through this amazing network of individuals, I have learned that it is okay to ask for help. No one person can do everything, and if you can, then you aren’t dreaming big enough. I now have a family of photographers, journalists, designers, filmmakers, stylists, makeup artists, illustrators, copy editors, podcasters, and small business owners to reach out to whenever I need them. While Color Story submissions came from all over the world, the heart of the first two issues beats as a result of the hard work from my fellow DC creatives. During the 7th Annual DC Web Fest fireside chat, Otessa asked us, the panelists, “How can we help you?” I found so much irony in her question, as she and her entire team have helped me so much already. My magazine started as a response to a void in the media, evolved into something tangible, and for the first time, I was a panelist at an event I truly believe in—speaking about something that means something to me. Sure, I did the work, but DC Web Fest had my back. Surround yourself with people who get it, and things will become so much easier. Stress is inevitable, but with a strong creative family like this one, it is nearly impossible to burn out—we just burn too damn bright.
Dayna Hood, Teacher & Beauty Editor