about me · anxiety · Conflicting emotions · life · melancholy · social anxiety · Thoughts and feelings

Wishy-Washiness about Being Busy

I am always waiting for something, it seems. I have spent half my life thinking and thinking of what could and will happen, rather than just doing it and let what becomes a reality be as it is without regret.

“A tad obsessive” is the phrase I have in mind to describe the constant linger at the back of my mind that I, in fact, need to keep to the pretense of busyness. And not just being busy, but a particular kind of busy where I have a professional excuse for not being away. Professional, as in I would rather people (like my family) know I am at school or some other appointment type thing where a binding obligation is part of the reason I am there, because I have the perception they otherwise think I am a good for nothing who stays home mostly.

There are highs and lows to this. When I was in that hotel class for 8 weeks straight, everyday Mondays to Fridays taking the 1 hour and 40 minute commute time from Brooklyn to Flushing and back again, it was refreshing to get into the habit of waking early and the anticipation of having somewhere to be. The situation simultaneously hurt me, too, by raising my stress and anxiety.

I always thought by throwing myself into something out of obligation could keep me from focusing on my anxiety. Instead I now see from repeated trial and error that, actually, the anxiety is still there but it manifests itself differently based on the situation I am in.

Yes, the obligation of school put me always on GO AND DON’T STOP mode. I only had a small window of time after class to be by myself and unwind for the evening. Those moments were a varying mix of emotions. Some nights my exhaustion felt well-deserved; eat dinner like a half-starved monster, get squeaky clean in the shower, study (or basically flip through my notes until the words start to blur together), mess around on my phone, and conk out because I was too damn tired to give a f*ck about anything else at that moment. Not so much on other nights; where not even sleep deprivation helped me pass out because my mind was just racing and racing with uncontrollable imagination about class the next day and how on earth I was supposed to relax.

The repetitiveness of that 6 and a half hours of class for 5 days of a week wore on me too. In the beginning the newness of doing everything had a charm about it that I looked forward to. I found the positive in the mess of negatives I could not avoid.

My packed sandwich and salad which I made myself for school days, stopping by the local Starbucks to eat and get coffee, the habitual walk around the block I took before returning to class, the beat satisfaction of leaving class and hopping the subway home. Since the start of all this 5 days a week schedule, my legs were so tired from sitting in class for 6 and a half hours. I combated this with my lunch break walk but also going up and down the stairs to and from class (my classroom was on the 6th floor, lol). I even made myself get off several subway stops from home, just to get more walking in. The pent-up frustration needed an outlet and this was it for me. Plus I didn’t have any other time besides after school to do that.

In time the busyness became mundane and irritating. Yet I still did it; desperate to stay to a semblance of habit to keep myself from spiraling into a worse mental state. It worked and it didn’t work at the same time. I became robotic with meal prep and I ate to provide my body with just barely enough sustenance to get through the days. I considered packing different meals but thought it too troublesome for the morning rush. It was both not having energy to think about food and not wanting to bother with it too. I started to feel numb on autopilot, with no room in my life to think about anything except school related matters.

Thus I feel like I drove myself into ruin from my mindset about busyness automatically equating productiveness. Where I have failed is that my ideals of busyness aren’t realistic for myself, knowing that my mental state comes apart at the seams a little in how I deal with the pressure of maintaining busyness. And that when I can’t be busy in the way I think I should be, I am inexplicably unhappy that I am not fitting the role I believe I have to.

Even when Fridays came and I had the weekend to chill, I was less interested in going out on Saturdays or doing stuff. I was either too tired or I felt grumpy about having any fun knowing I would be back in the classroom on Monday to repeat the whole stupid week again. Sure, I had weekends where I was content with mainly staying home catching up on a tv show or movie and not feeling like sh*t about it, only because I had school as my main reason for not being home on weekdays.

So how I spent my time was more meaningful due to my perception that I had not much time anymore. It also made me less self-conscious about being home since school kept me busy for most of my weeks. I even felt more like myself around certain people and more willing to engage with them in conversation when usually I am so stuck on “nothing” happening in my life and that it wouldn’t matter whether I say anything or not.

It’s the total opposite now that school finished. I have moments of being able to lose my compulsive thoughts by finding a distraction to take my mind faraway. Mainly, though, I feel as melancholic as I was when school became a banal chore I had to do. I have days where I feel trapped at home with invisible chains are on my wrists that are of my own making and I have nothing to offer to the world by going out. I haven’t become a total hermit by not going out at all, but like my weekend bitterness during those school weeks, it feels as if it takes an exponential amount of energy to actually do it. And when I do, I feel a wavering mix of accomplishment and failure as if I can’t decide for myself if anything I do has any meaning at all.

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