If I could describe myself in two words, “lazy” and “hardworking” would take the cake.
Some might call that oxymoronic, but, in my case, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Struggling with depression since I was 13, I’ve learned a few things about managing the diligent, perfectionist side of me in conjunction with relentless mental exhaustion. Growing up, I was often stigmatized as being “lazy” when I couldn’t find the energy to put on a nice-looking outfit for school or remember to empty the dishwasher.
I was often met with “stop making excuses” when I ignored my friends to spend my weekend with my bed instead. I could never keep a hobby—soccer? Quit. Swimming? Me, up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning? No, thanks. I had one thing going for me: being a student. I’ll admit, there is an inherent part of me that loves busy work, but as Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” For the better part of my life, I felt like I had nothing to be busy about.
When I started college and my schedule became more flexible, I felt a newfound sense of independence that many do, and along with that the freedom to tap into my creativity. I have always had a passion for writing, but never knew what to do with it. Several writing-intensive classes and a position on the newspaper’s staff later, my passion for writing was fostered by newly developed skills and a respect for the craft in all its forms.
Combined with some intermittent time on my hands, I pushed myself to start my own blog as a creative outlet outside of the classroom; I no longer defined myself by just being a student, but rather allowed myself to cultivate a personal brand and actually fulfill my passion of being a “creator.”
Circling back to the “lazy” side of me, I learned to use that energy–or lack thereof–to schedule time for myself. Since I thrive on schedules and to-do lists, I tend to get caught up in everything I have to do, which just perpetuates the likelihood of burning out. Instead, I focus on a few small tasks at a time and then set aside 20 to 30 minutes for reading, napping, pampering, etc. This “lazy” girl sometimes even gets up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday to fit in a workout at the gym.
By exercising my creative side through writing and photography, I feel like I have something to get up for in the mornings. Finding that “something” is the most rewarding thing you can do for your mental health. Don’t feel like you have to be ashamed or apologetic for those parts of yourself that seem to put you at a disadvantage, but instead find the advantages in them and understand what they need to flourish.
For me, I’m able to get work done from the comfort of my own room, so the homebody in me doesn’t tire out. I honed the hardworking side of me and embraced my lazy side—two parts seemingly combustible that I have learned to make compatible. It took years but I finally found something to be busy about.