The Occasional Slacker

If you’re a go-getter like me, any sort of procrastination feels like failure…

98% of the time, I’m the kind of person working way ahead of schedule. I’m completing tasks I don’t actually need to finish for a few weeks, but I just feel compelled to do them anyway. I’ve always been that type of person, always on the ball, always trying to make my time productive.

Except, that 2% of the time not accounted for, that’s when I feel beyond guilty. Defeated. Angry and frustrated with myself. Uninspired and unmotivated. There is that rare time when I come across a particular assignment that I just have no willpower to get done. Even when I never plan to procrastinate, which using that term could have many various definitions depending on the person, I have just a random paper or responsibility that I leave up as a window or tab on my computer and just ignore. And end up doing anything else BUT that.

It’s a habit that I luckily don’t fall into very often, but it does inevitably happen. Right now as I’m writing this, it’s a memo for media law and ethics. I have multiple tabs open in my browser for resources to cite and emails from an online database with more information, and yet there the document sits, little progress made, due in a few days. And here I am, writing a blog post instead!

I almost feel like I’m going against my own nature, like some unknown force is blocking my usual urgency to get things done. I’ve never been one to understand those who always write papers the day before they’re due or barely glancing at a textbook minutes before a test is handed out. I’ve had to work my tail off throughout my education, and while it can be exhausting at times, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far.

Until I get to that one little snag in the production that I just hone in and focus on, use it as ammunition to shame my abilities or lack thereof. But regardless of the scenario, we all come to points where we face a roadblock, a random halt in our creativity that can come up out of the blue. The world still expects us to keep truckin’ along as per usual, but we just…can’t, or don’t know how. It’s not that we don’t realize we have lots of people and resources that we could fall back on and ask questions to, we just mentally are at a place where our brain randomly decides that a basic task is too much.

This can apply to so much more than classwork. How about making yearly doctor and dentist appointments? How about applying and interviewing for jobs? Heck, sometimes making a meal that isn’t just cereal feels like a task only a MasterChef contestant can pull off. Our perception of how we view the difficulty of everyday occurrences that skew from reality is appalling.

Wouldn’t it be great to flip a switch and suddenly have the clarity and ambition to do what feels impossible? Or have it already done for us overnight, like secret elves just pulling our lives together? Alas, it’s not how the world works. We are the ones to ultimately hold ourselves accountable. Sure, you could easily neglect certain things that stress you out, but what are the repercussions of those decisions? We all know the answer to those questions as it pertains to our lives, but even then, it might not get you into gear.

What I typically do is still try to be productive, even if one task sits on my to-do list for longer than I’d like, but I still am crossing other things off. It’s a satisfying feeling, and sometimes that’s the only nudge you need to want to cross everything off. Also, your well-being should always, without a doubt, come first. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, that’s what is most important. You can’t do a single thing if you always leave your energy tank on empty.

Keep that one nagging task at the forefront of your mind, regardless of how simple it is to shove it aside. Think of what a relief it will be to get it done. Maybe that means going to a different location to do so, or doing some self-care activities first before you dive in, or taking frequent breaks to prevent getting hung up on tricky spots, or all of the above. It’s whatever you know works best for you.

If you don’t feel it right now, here’s a quick reminder that yes, you are strong and capable of overcoming the obstacles that plague you. You will trudge forward past this point and look back satisfied knowing that you made it. Life is all about the highs and lows, bouncing back and forth in a constant game of pinball. But if I can do it, then you and everyone else can, too.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Stuck in the Middle

Stuck In the Middle With You | Music and Meaning: The RBHS ...
Did this song come into your mind, too? Hey, at least it’s catchy.

Do you ever feel like you’re going about your day, being productive in your work, but feeling like you’re…off? That the work you’re doing isn’t engaging you like you think it should? That if you weren’t required to do a certain task, you’d be off doing something completely different?

Because that’s where I’m at right now. And it’s a place that I have to be in, unfortunately, and I know I’m not alone in that. I think anybody in their educational career have at least one (or probably many) time(s) where you’re asking, “What is the point? I’m not interested in this. This doesn’t feel relevant to me.”

Whether it’s taking a required math class you despise, applying for a job you know you wouldn’t like, or scheduling a yearly doctor’s appointment when your health is a-okay, there are those moments where we look at the grand scheme of our lives and wonder why all of these seemingly minute details, ones that seem to not serve you, really matter. Shouldn’t we be using our precious time and energy always trying to better ourselves, fuel our passions, and make the most of what we have and are? That’s certainly the message drilled into our heads: no moment is guaranteed. Life is precious. You only live once.

Here’s my current example. I am in the midst of my second to last semester of my undergraduate career. The only classes I have left to graduate are those that are required for my Mass Communication major. As my mind has changed to recenter my focus on what I truly love and feel passionate about, I have felt very drained from taking classes about social research, writing for digital and broadcast media, and media law and ethics. Especially when I have a religion class that resonates with me so much more, going from that to all of my other classes is no comparison. I sit in the classroom just thinking, “This is so minuscule. How truly productive is this? I could be doing -insert other things here- instead.”

When you struggle to find that purpose in the seemingly dull, tiresome tasks, they just become even more strenuous. Our perspectives turn those tasks into mountains to climb every day, continually becoming steeper. If we can’t find a purpose, then it’s virtually impossible to find a motivation.

It’s easy to say, just find the reason you’re doing it in the first place and then you’ll be set, but if only life were that easy. Rarely can we just snap ourselves into a new head space and suddenly see the world with fresh eyes. Especially in the mundane tasks, classes and responsibilities, the reason you might see in going or doing what you need to do, doesn’t necessarily change your attitude toward it. Sure, you’re paying to be in class and you need to take these classes to graduate, but in the present moment? Fifty minutes is dragging on for what feels like hours.

So instead of taking a robotic approach to switching motivation on and off, be gentle and gradual with yourself. Practice mindfulness in becoming aware of your body, position and circumstances, putting more thought into what you’re doing instead of daydreaming about other “more exciting” things. Even just a single reason to go, even if that is to see a friend or silently criticize the relevance of a topic (which, in my case, has been my go-to reason), can ease you into a different perspective.

Cliche, I know, but we are truly so blessed, so when in doubt, find gratitude in whatever you’re dreading because chances are, there are people vying for such an opportunity. Like the ability to receive an education. Or have access to certain resources. Or just any little luxuries that we don’t think about when we’re finding every little detail to complain about.

Because maybe yes, right now, this less enjoyable task isn’t of end-all importance. But in the grand scheme, if it fits into your goals, then it’s a necessary step to take. I have the goal of graduating from college with solid grades in three years, and by taking the classes I am now, I will be able to achieve that. Even if I look back and cannot remember a single detail of what was discussed in those classes, I can be proud knowing that I did it, despite my reservations about it at the time. Same goes for graduating high school, or taking care of mental health, or going through eating disorder recovery.

Everything is intentional. Sometimes it isn’t very obvious. Heck, it can be downright frustrating and defeating thinking you might be wasting your time on something. Accept your current emotions, but know that you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s a purpose, obvious or not, for everything. The lesson you learn from it might not be listed on the syllabus. And at the end of the day, be proud of how far you’ve come, where you are right now, and where you’re going.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Vying for Victimhood

Poor me. Why me?! Woe is me.

Ah, the good ol’ pity game. I used to be a champion of that one. Seeing yourself as an isolated enemy that the world is entirely against. That nothing goes your way. That your own hardship is of a unique and extreme caliber compared to others. 

Sometimes we just like feeling the sense that we are taken care of. We don’t want to take responsibility of the struggles we go through. We look to outside sources that are throwing us off kilter. 

And since people are how they are, we respond to victimhood with pity. We pay special attention to those who face wrongdoing, give them a shoulder to cry on. We want the people we care about to feel loved and cared for.

But when looking at victimhood from that perspective, doesn’t it feel just a little manipulative? Like the boy who cried wolf. You keep playing the same cards, and the people who started out answering to your every beck and call now resent the relationship.

It’s draining having to reassure someone constantly if they sound like a broken record. I am more attentive to that in others now, especially when I know myself how the mindless game works. When in the thick depths of mental illness, I didn’t want to acknowledge that my own mental state was at fault. It must be something else, right? Bad luck? A curse on everything I do? A demon swinging my emotions around like a pendulum, surely.

As difficult as it may be, we cannot cower away from our problems and expect others to mediate everything for us. We have to face obstacles head-on and be responsible for our actions and emotions.

As cliche as the Pinterest-esque quotes sound, we truly as the protagonists of our own stories. We have to be our own hero. We cannot depend on others to do so for us. If we do not have the resilience and willpower to handle life as it is, then we need a reevaluation of ourselves.

Living as our own hero is a true form of self-care. Let me tell you, as someone who used to strictly be the world’s punching bag, knowing that I have led the life I have makes me proud. I don’t see myself as a victim, but as a warrior. And we are each warriors overcoming our own battles and, in one way or another, will end up victorious if we move forward with the right attitude.

As always, it is about our perspective. And others can only influence us so much. You shouldn’t expect others to do it, either. When you know what it’s like from both sides, you realize that in reality, all of our daily annoyances, our lifelong battles, and everything in between: they’re unavoidable. The least we can do is accept everything as it comes and move forward. Stopping to mope over regrets and what “could be” is just wasting precious time.

Regardless of what we see as our biggest problem, chances are that somebody will be facing worse circumstances. The world is full of hunger, poverty, disease, and disability. We cannot help but look at our own lives and be grateful. Feel blessed for the people in your life, the simple conveniences of living in a modern developed society, your health and body and capable mind.

Admittedly, I will still at some point fall into the self-pity trap. People I encounter will also speak of themselves and their own lives as a giant travesty. I mean, the internet is full of people ranting about their lives and “ironically” calling themselves out. It’s your choice if you want to partake. Just because everyone else lie on the floor after tripping, you can still get up and keep walking.

And if you feel like someone in your life is in this category of mentalities, let them know. Or, if you’re the rash type, let them go. You deserve to feel uplifted, not obligated to reassure and babysit somebody who is questioning and doubting everything. It definitely comes with time and it’s not always easy, but I can say it is well worth it. 

You capable of confidence and strong self-esteem. Maybe not right now, but soon. Keep moving forward. Find the light poking through the fog. Life is a lot of doubt, fear, discomfort, and stress. But nothing in life is too difficult to not overcome. So own up to it. Victomhood or victory: the choice is yours.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie