rethinking the hustle

Lately, I’ve been trying to prioritize my mental and physical well-being, because I know, returning to my office job for the summer is going to be draining. I’m not made for sitting at a desk for 8 hours and doing the same repetitive tasks all week (but hey, I filled my phone with philosophy, culture, and political podcasts, so maybe I’ll be engaging my brain a bit!). This prioritization also comes from wanting to get a hold on my anxiety, in hope of managing my pseudo-seizures better in the upcoming months than I have in the past few. I’ve even started to wean myself off coffee! So yeah, I’m serious about it.

I woke up this morning with the intention of doing a “run-through” of my early morning pre-work routine so I feel prepared for getting back into the swing of things tomorrow. But, that went out the window, considering I, first of all, slept in. I tried to recoup by at least getting in a morning yoga session, but everytime I changed positions I got light-headed and there was a dull pressure in my head. So that went out the window too. I felt a little frustrated at my inability to stick to my planned routine, but I took the yoga instructor’s mantra to heart, “do what feels good”, and decided to attempt practicing an intuitive, slow day.

This wasn’t only prompted from my failure to make it through early morning exercise – I have also been feeling very listless lately, and have tried to solve this with my signature over-the-top to-do lists. This of course, didn’t help me feel any less listless, and it definitely failed to make me feel productive, despite the fact that I was making my way through each task and checking it off. I wasn’t present though, really, just lost somewhere in my anxious thoughts and letting them get the best of me. It wasn’t until I forced myself to sit down, to work with my hands, to make, in this case, a collage, that I finally was able to feel calm and content. This realization of how still I felt after engaging in art-making was an encouraging reason to try and emphasize and value the same sort of feeling today.

I decided to leave all notions of efficiency and productivity for my return to my job tomorrow, and instead, allowed myself today to slow down, reset, and let myself do whatever I felt like doing in the moment, instead of adhering to a list of items.

I had a shower. Got dressed. Did my hair, just because. I noticed the dishes needed to be done. I also noticed Sky had left some body butter out for me so I could use it to make a body scrub I’ve been meaning to make. So I did that. I didn’t even follow a recipe as I usually would – just threw in ingredients I thought would smell good and feel refreshing. However, while doing so, I had the thought – “hey, I could make a little business making homemade body and skin care products!”, and I was bothered that this thought interrupted the simple act of mixing products together and perfecting the perfume, of testing the product…I was bothered that every time I make something and enjoy doing it, my automatic thought goes to how it could be profitable. Sure – it would be nice to make money doing something like that, or as a maker of any product or art, really – but why do these simple things only feel worthwhile if there is a chance they could be profitable? Why can’t I just make things for the sake of making them? Write for the sake of writing – not to be published? Stop making game plans for starting a “side hustle” and just enjoy what free time I do have? Stop this whole idea that something has to be measured by a specific standard of success, usually, monetary profit, to be meaningful, to be useful, to be a good way to spend my time.

I’ve been trying to resist this kind of mindset in all areas of my life. Part of it has been pursuing art. Part of it has been deciding to take an extra semester to finish my degree, because I can, and I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself. It’s hard for me to stick to – I’ve never actively chosen to take less than a full-course load – but I know the extra time will allow me to throw myself into all the opportunities I am afforded and excited about because I’m a student. It will allow me time to rest. It will allow me time to make connections. Most of all, it will slow things down, because I’m happy where I’m at in university and I love my life as a student, and I want to live this way for a little bit longer.

I’m trying to listen to myself, to re-evaluate priorities, to emphasize slow living, the value of intuition, to calm my mind and decrease my stress level, and hopefully, in time, see the result of less anxiety and fewer pseudo-seizures, migraines, and days where I’m depleted of all energy.

Today, I feel pretty content. Happy. And I hope I can keep building practices that maximize my mental well-being, so I don’t feel so lost in worries and what ifs all the time. So I can set aside time to just be still, and calm. We’ll see how I manage, starting tomorrow, with 3 spring courses and a full time job…..

xoxo jc.



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