To be perfectly honest, I’m going into this post with no planning whatsoever, nor even the slightest idea of what I’m going to talk about. This isn’t the done thing on Iron Beth. I don’t think I’ve ever once just thrown myself into a draft without any kind of planning before, so this should be interesting. There’s a lot I could talk about this week, if I could be bothered to sit down and do some research and planning and all that kinda stuff, but I’ve found I’m really not in the mood to do that. So I’m just gonna sit here and ramble instead. This is maybe going to be the most journal-like my blog has ever gotten, so if that’s your shit, I hope you enjoy. And if not, you’re under no obligation to read on. Consider yourself warned.
It’s been a weird week. It’s the last before my second semester of university starts up and it’s back into lectures and tutorials and readings and the endless amount of work that university demands. And it’s been good, because I’ve been back in Wellington, I haven’t been working, I’ve had a week to myself to have a proper holiday. And I had so much planned for this week. I was so excited to get it all done.
But then I found that all I wanted to do was lie in bed until 10am and then sit around in my sweatpants watching TV all day. Not in an anxious too-scared-to-leave-the-house way, thankfully. Just in a way that was like, I’ve had enough of being up early and rushing around trying to get a zillion things done. I just want to take a little while to do nothing at all. Which I guess is what holidays is about: resting and relaxing and not feeling guilty about it.
So why do I still feel guilty?
Part of it is because I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. I drive myself hard, and I’m very good at being my own worst critic. This is both a strength and a weakness. A strength because it means I work hard and am rewarded for knuckling down and getting shit done. And a weakness because it tends to make me far more stressed out than I need to be, it results in crippling disappointment whenever I fail to meet my own (ridiculously high) standards, and it means I’m not very good at just relaxing.
This is a time when I should be just relaxing. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been doing some of that and I have been enjoying it. I started watching a new television show this week, and delighted in the fact that I could devote hours of my time to sitting in front of my computer devouring episodes without pause and consuming burritos with a similar voracity. But there’s always been this little niggle in the back of your head saying, you’ve got so much to do, you’re gonna regret it later. And I’ve also spent an altogether-too-large portion of this week writing and rewriting to-do lists, crossing stuff out only to see I haven’t achieved enough of the really important things I wanted to do.
I’m not sure how all this relates to anxiety or mental illness, if it even does at all. I think this is more just part of being a human, one of those idiosyncrasies we all have. A character flaw that, despite everything it puts me through, I secretly like and don’t know what I’d do without. I’d just like to be able to turn it off when it’s not needed. At 21, I have yet to learn how to just switch off and have a fucking holiday. Maybe the point of adulthood is that holidays aren’t supposed to feature, cos we’re old and worldly and mature now and we should know how to manage our time and be grateful for what we have. But it’s not that I’m not grateful. And to me, that outlook is a fucking depressing one.
I can feel shit’s about to get heavy now. Because this is the point in my train of thought where I start to think, but really, Beth? You’re complaining about not being able to relax? That’s not a real fucking problem. And yes, that may be an entirely accurate statement. I’m lucky. I’m incredibly lucky, as it happens, to live in a beautiful country in the first world. To have grown up comfortably, in a loving home, with access to clean water. To have always had plenty of food in the pantry, to have gone to high school and to now be in tertiary education. I have a roof over my head. I have shoes on my feet. I don’t fall asleep every night fearing for my life (at least, not from external threats anyway). I’m smart. I’m capable. I’ve got the use of all four limbs. I’m white-passing. I’m straight. I’m privileged in so many ways.
So I feel like I’m sat here complaining on the Internet about a problem I have which isn’t really a problem at all. But this helps. It helps to write it all out here, to be able to see it on the screen and distance myself from it, to realise that the things that are making my breath shorter at the moment aren’t really going to hurt me. But the sad thing is, no matter how bad your problems are, if you’re reading this then there’s someone in the world who has it worse off than you do. That’s worth remembering. It puts your problems in perspective. But another thing that’s worth remembering is that, just because there are people out there slogging through worse problems than you, it does not make your problems irrelevant.
From all of this, I think I’ve figured out a worthy goal. The goal is not to stop complaining about my lame-ass first-world problems, but to always do more than simply complain. It’s not enough just to sit here and go, ‘oh man, I just can’t seem to chill out comfortably’. I need to figure out why it is that this is happening, and also what I can do about it. Complain and then take action, I guess. I like that.