A week of emotions
This week has been particularly hard for me: it is so difficult to decode and categorize how you feel, ...and to track it without being influenced from it!
So, I took a qualitative approach: I would just note down every time I recognized I was experiencing a ‘change’ of sensations.
And I would do it without too many thoughts and pre-categorizations, but rather simply writing words down the way they came out, with the idea that I would arrange my data into groups later on.
Since I was interested in finding eventual correlations between my emotions and my activities, I also noted down what I was doing at the moment, who I was with and, well, ...the weather :).
As I've tried to determine correlations, I've found that it's been somewhat difficult.
But this week has still provided me with little pieces of insights:
- in general, walking makes me feel relaxed and just ok!
- "talking about work" (i.e. planning - talking about projects I still have to start or things that I will have to do) makes me feel very anxious...
I know why! I feel so much unproductive if I don’t "make" things! I’d rather work and get things done instead of talking about them!
- sparkles of happiness last for a quite short time, actually;
- I seem to have a pretty wide emotional range: I laugh easily and I get upset or stressed very easily and quickly;
- I figured that I often push myself to act friendlier than I feel;
- as I describe my state of mind I don't consistently use the same words, there are little nuances that differentiate my states of mind (heart?) every time;
- oh, and an afternoon at the SPA wipes away all of the stressful feelings, in case you didn't know it.
(courtesy of boyfriend, thank you for the relaxing present!)
But nothing surprising comes out from correlations with the weather, or with who I was with. The data drawing just reflects it: in this postcard I didn’t really go too much in details, but I did rather just represent my data collection as it was (sorry Stef! No major insights this week - maybe I didn't track my data correctly?).
As I picture emotions in my mind, they are ephemeral and volatile, and one can hardly grasp them when they manifest to you. Thus the overall feeling of the drawing reflects some sort of thin branches and blades of grass moved by the wind. (At least in my mind it does :D)
Being in the Present
I have never practiced meditation, and I am sure this emotions-tracking exercise is far away from that, but still I felt very focused on the “here and now” this week: by trying to notice what my inner self was feeling I have been much more connected with the present moment.
Also, this week I started an Evernote note called “Giorgia, areas of improvement”. It was a direct reflection of what I noticed regarding my anxiety, my relaxed time, and my controversial feelings.
I also checked back my old postcards (especially the complaints one!) and jotted down some further observations on my new Evernote note.
Well, now I can say that: Dear Data is definitely a self-investigative project!
p.s. Stefanie’s emotions original card never got to me!!
She re-drew it weeks later, and I got it just a few days ago.
It is so elegant and beautiful, I love the color palette and the idea behind it, also...isn't it the first week where it's visible that we're influencing each other's style? :)
For this week, I set an alarm every hour that I was awake, and then gathered data on the emotion I felt when I noticed that the timer went off (both on a scale of 1-10 and by recording one word to describe my emotion).
This was more difficult to track than I anticipated, mainly because I had to keep my phone on silent due to the fact that people don’t really like having alarms repeatedly going off in their workspace / meeting / home...funny, that. So, I had to keep checking my phone regularly to see whether an alarm had silently gone off or not, and sometimes I invariably forgot to check. In short: this data is a little messy and imperfect.
I had a busy week, and you can spot evidence of this if you look quite closely at the times I was awake and tracking my emotions on the card, as I was sometimes up at 4 or 5 in the morning (I know this is crazy)! This is because I get up early to work, but then I get up earlier because I’m worried about the work, so it’s sort of a reverse late-nighter, I guess.
I also spent some of this week abroad to speak at a conference and I felt lonely and awkward through the entire event.
With a week like this, no wonder that feeling anxious and feeling tired would be two of my most frequent emotional states, along with ‘efficient’: a neutral state where I felt neither happy nor sad, just satisfied that I was sorting out all of that work that was getting me up so early in the morning.
I flew back to London on Friday night, just in time for a weekend of house parties and visiting with old friends from Denver: so loads of excited and happy emotions over the weekend!
Looking at the most frequent emotions, I’m either incredibly tired and anxious or really happy and excited: extremes on the opposite ends of the spectrum. I think that's because in life I don't want to miss anything, so I get up early to do good work and stay out late to have a good night. I suppose I’d rather be a woman of extremes than one of blandness, though tracking this week has made me more aware of how trying to not miss anything affects my sleep, makes my schedule stressful and so affects my mood.
Sometimes over the course of this project I find that I get ‘data overload’ both from the intensive tracking of the data as well as the conversion of this complex data into drawings… my head feels overwhelmed, swimming with too many numbers to comprehend. Because I often have these feelings, with this card I was exploring the idea that perhaps to communicate my week of emotion to Giorgia I don’t have to represent everything, but could edit and just represent the highlights. So, I focused on simplifying the information, only highlighting the top 5 emotions in the drawing.
Simplifying the data made drawing more enjoyable for me, as the drawing process felt more free and unstructured (as unstructured as it can be, of course, given that so many of the design decisions are determined by the data). This is the first time I felt I was actually making progress drawing-wise during this project.
However, there is still some data detail: the line for each hour is scaled according to my 1-10 scale of emotion, though I’ll have to admit that it is more difficult to read than I'd like. Even though I was using a ruler, the imperfect nature of drawing data by hand means that it’s slightly tricky to gauge the tiny differences in line length.
Note: Of course, the card I've felt happiest with would obviously be the card that went missing in the Atlantic Ocean. Because it felt like the world had misplaced my favourite drawing on purpose, I sulked and grumbled and dragged my heels on re-drawing and resending this card to Giorgia until the very last minute, finally drawing the card a week before publishing on this website. Thankfully this one arrived, as I'm not sure what will happen if I ever have to draw a card for the third time, but I'm sure it will strike fear into the heart of my postman.
I like Giorgia's card as it feels like she is moving in a slightly different direction drawing-wise with the little brushstrokes and curving lines. I also find it interesting that although we both track our data differently, we both count being 'productive' or 'efficient' as a top emotion, which likely says more about us than we'd like to believe, as I doubt everyone would categorise their emotions in this way!