Today I am grateful for the challenge of doing less. I am grateful that I am able to take this time for myself, with the moral and financial support of my parents.
Believe it or not, doing less is harder than it sounds. Even as I’ve removed many external pressure to do, I still find myself caught in the vicious cycle of do-do-do. For someone who has grown up in a fast-paced, capitalist society, it is ingrained in me that productivity and efficiency are top priorities. The thinking goes that if I’m not producing anything, I’m wasting time. So I always have to be on the move, on to the next thing. But the thing is, doing less doesn’t equate to wasting time because doing less frees up so much more room to simply be, for reflection and contemplation, which are central, in my opinion, to living fully. If all we know is to move onto the next thing, without pausing for reflection, are we really making the most of our experiences?
I am so good at doing that I’ve forgotten how to truly sit with myself. When difficult emotions arise, I immediately clamp down on them, pushing them deep into my unconscious mind. The mechanism that detects and acts on said emotions is so well-tuned it operates subconsciously. Quite scary to think that sometimes I’m not even aware of what I’m doing to myself.
During these months off school, I’m relatively free of any onerous responsibility. So naturally, I am doing less. I know this period of healing is a necessary, balancing act. Yet there are still many nights when I lay awake wondering, Am I doing enough? Am I fully utilizing my time away from academia? Should I be doing something different? In my head, I am answering yes to all those questions. Yet, there is always that voice inside – my own worst critic – trying to skew the answer to no.
The greatest challenge is overcoming those negative voices. And in the process, learning to treat even the darkest thoughts with love and compassion because fighting them is not the solution. I must try and empathize with my fearful selves for they are just as much of me as my hopeful selves.
I’m a (real) good talker when it comes to promoting self-love… slowing down … noticing ourselves in this moment. All that good stuff. You might read these blog post thinking, Wow, Claire’s really got it all down. But let me tell you, I don’t. I really don’t. I say these things because I need to hear it from myself. I’m far from getting it all down and frankly, I don’t think that’s the point of it all. We can’t just tick off ‘Love myself’, ‘Slow down’, ‘Live in the moment’ and be set for life. We need to be reminded of these things throughout our lives, because in the darkest moments, those voices of fear and hopelessness will nevertheless find their way back to us. With strength and bravery, we can face those moments and come out stronger.
Suffering, hardship, and pain are inevitable. It is not in our power to expel them from our lives, but it is in our power to learn how to deal with our pain – openly and tenderly. Friends, there is no deadline. There is only life.