Everyday Solitude is a Kiwi platform designed to help us better understand the power of solitude for both our mental health and our creativity, and they’ve just released Everyday Conversations, a series of conversation starters ‘to deepen connections and create meaningful conversations.’ We talk to founder Jessica Ann Baker about why she wants us to have deeper chats with our friends.
What was the main reason for your decision to start up Everyday Solitude?
I have worked in both the mental wellness/creative space independently, for years. I simply felt sick of pushing purposeless products on social media and wondered if there was a world where the two could merge and support one another. Turns out they could!
There’s a lot of talk about the loneliness epidemic, but solitude is a far more positive way to frame being alone. Why was this an important distinction?
Being alone is not a bad thing. Society has framed it that way and so it was very important for me when starting out to not only propose the importance of being connected with others to advance your mental wellness, but the importance of being connected with self
When did you become aware of your own mental health, and what have you learned about prioritising it as best as you can?
When I was about 23, I had a big experience of depression and just felt quite lost really. As a result I started seeing a clinical psychologist and to put it quite simply, my life has never been the same. It has since been seven years of hard mahi, ups and downs and figuring out what works for me. So long I am connected with myself and ensuring I am doing what I can to look after my wellness, I am travelling okay.
When did you come up with the idea for Everyday Conversations and what do you hope it will achieve?
I probably had the idea about five years ago, but it grew and evolved to it is what it is today. It has been a very light, organic journey that is constantly developing into itself. What I hope it will achieve is simply a more connected and less stigmatised Aotearoa.
How did you come up with the conversation starters?
I didn’t! My friends did. All my nearest and dearest wrote them out. It was special.
The conversation starters are divided into four categories: intimacy, discomfort, reflection and courage. Why is each one so important?
They all represent different areas of our live, while all interacting with one another. Each genre has the capacity to lead the conversation in a different area.
You’re currently based in France, have you noticed a difference between how Kiwis handle small talk – or big talk! – versus the French?
Hmmm.. I think overall it really depends on how you are received. In New Zealand, a lot of people would think I was weird for being friendly and forward, but I just didn’t care. It is clear they were not my people. Similar here. But overall I’ve realised if you approach connection and friendship with an open heart and clear motives, it is always well received and reciprocated! People say the French are mean, I think they just don’t waste time. I like them!
On your website as part of the ethos of Everyday Solitude, you talk about how it exists ‘to cultivate artistic creativity and human connection, in the hopes of aiding the mental wellness of every individual.’ Why is artistic creativity such an important part of mental wellness?
I think creativity helps us unravel parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed, and when we are most connected to ourselves and others, we can engage with our highest form of creativity.
What are three things – big or small – that are currently bringing you joy?
- A clean bedroom
- Dogs on the street
- My new shampoo and conditioner! So boring, I know (or maybe just in the middle of exam season and know that self-care is paramount for now).