I thought long and hard about making a thoughtful post concerning my birthday. I thought about finding some photo that seemed to summarize the sentiment or mood surrounding the day, maybe with a song quote that held some sort of significance to me. Heck, I thought about singing y’all a song but I honestly can’t think of a single person who wants to hear that.
The more I thought about it, the less desire I had to put in that sort of effort. It’s not me being lazy, because trust me, I’ve been far, far lazier in the past. It’s that I don’t feel the pressure these days like I used to. There was a song that would ring out in the back of my mind most days in which I asked myself the question, “Am I doing enough?” in a repeating, melodic tone. I used to have a personal “rule” (of sorts) where I would have one task to do after I got off of work that had some sort of endgame goal. Maybe I would have a podcast to record, maybe it was a YouTube video to work on, maybe it was a short story or novel writing exercise, or maybe it was a side gig. Whatever it was, I had to have one thing to do after work in order to tell myself that I was fulfilled after doing that.
There were areas in which it made sense. For example, I used to work an office job that had no creative aspect to it. Hence, I needed something else to scratch that creative itch. But hitting those creative itches or anything along similar lines eventually evolved into this notion that I always needed to have more going on in my life.
I won’t repeat the post about Hustle Culture that I published last week, don’t worry. I’m speaking more on a personal level now than that post dealt with, and on a personal level I was always looking for that extra fulfillment and never really finding it because there was always more to do. I would tell myself that I needed to keep working on projects so that I wouldn’t be a quitter like I’ve always been before, back in those lazier days.
The problem that arose, of course, is that if fulfillment wasn’t to be found in those extra projects, why was I convinced that more effort would be the key? Working on video essays for a YouTube channel could be fun, but the end result always was the same ten people watching and commenting and nothing more. A lot of effort would go into something that not only lacked fulfillment, but also lacked a tangible reward.
It may be shocking for you to hear this, but cutting out things that offer neither fulfillment or a tangible reward isn’t quitting. Wow. I can’t believe it’s taken me into my thirties to realize this.
And hey, it’s not like me “realizing” equates to me learning and believing. Just this past weekend I had an idea pop into my head, which then manifested into a gut feeling that said, “Hey you should complete this idea because there’s a lot of people who do this stuff all the time and get a lot of acclaim for it and the fact that you can’t live like that means you’re not living up to your potential.” Yikes.
Typically I would fall into self-loathing and guilt over my seemingly untapped potential when this happened, yet this time around I simply told a friend, “I wish I had the energy to work on all these ideas all the time, but I just don’t” and that was it. Because it’s not an issue with quitting, it’s an issue with already doing too many things that I’m actually likely much better at anyway. Not an attitude issue, but an energy issue.
The urges to make a video about something are often replaced with a conversation with an individual about the idea. When I play a video game, I simply play it and don’t spend as much time obsessing over gathering footage and observations so I can vomit them into a video script. When I feel like I should be vlogging or something, I instead can simply cook a meal with some friends and sit on the couch. Not a million things all at once, but smaller, more focused efforts.
Again, those things aren’t bad. There will still be video essays I publish because I felt like the energy was there for the effort and I’ll enjoy the whole thing. There are blog posts I will continue to write and bad fiction that I’ll never ever share. None of those efforts, like the thought process behind some sort of introspective Instagram post, are really going away.
I just don’t feel the pressure as much anymore. I don’t feel the pressure to do more, and it allows me to soak in what it is I’m even doing at all.