My week in doodles

Chloe Newbold 

When I initially decided to make time for a doodle each day of the week, I was anxious about remembering to fit in this daily five minutes of creative reflection. I’ve always found myself to be an all or nothing person, either to be found throwing my full self into as many activities as possible or in complete burn out mode. While I am grateful for the array of activities on offer at Cambridge, it provides the perfect environment for perpetuating this cycle of strenuous activity and exhaustion.

Two days into my doodling I received a head injury at taekwondo that left me with a mild concussion. All of a sudden the black and white of my all or nothing approach to life felt like it was left with the complete blank page of empty days stretching ahead, unable to focus long enough to attend lectures, too nauseous for exercise and frustrated at my inability to read. Ironically, the doodles that I thought I wouldn’t have time to complete became a quiet moment in my long days of silence and frustration. Days like Saturday and Sunday are most representative of my everyday experiences; part of that weird Cambridge ability to pack a million and one things into 24 hours; making campaign posters at an NUS meeting, a social housing exhibit, catching up with old friends, stressing over Karl Marx in the library and the inevitable Sunday evening rush to taekwondo.

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My doodles for the rest of the week used a similar style, but felt somehow like a creation of my day as opposed to an account of my experiences. A week packed full of drawing, colouring in, walking, catching up with good friends and A LOT of baking felt like a week in which I was fashioning my own day as opposed to simply living by the structure of my degree and extra-curricular activities. These doodles weirdly represent a visual display of a week of listening, listening to podcasts, listening to the advice of friends telling me to relax, but largely of listening to myself and the messages that my body was sending me, telling me to relax.

I have never really understood when people say that you can understand a lot about a person from the style of their drawings or their handwriting. However a closer look at my own drawings made me reconsider this. These doodles are not abstract in any way, they are all a “say what you see” in terms of my daily experience, featuring the faces of friends, the covers of books or things I ate. The lack of shading or variation in colour is a far cry from the bright patterns I am usually drawn to in my clothing and furnishings. These doodles, I guess, belong to a mind that finds it difficult to deal with silence and uncertainty, knowing that the day will be full of a million tasks and things to achieve. One thing I have learnt this week while completing these doodles is the importance of trying to see the blurred lines and the grey areas, the areas of compromise and peaceful existence between the extremes of living in black and white (or maybe I have simply had too much thinking time this week).

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