A friend recently asked me “how often do you write?” To which I responded, “not enough.”
We’d been talking about how everyone everyone has been a little obsessed with Lady Gaga at some point. He mentioned that he liked how she’s unobjectively herself. I mentioned that I really appreciate that she’s learned how to be herself without having to be forceful about it (I wasn’t a fan of her during her meat dress faze, to say the least). You can be yourself without throwing yourself into a random party outfit generator each morning. You can be quirky and not have your outfit scream to the world that this is who you are. There is courage in doing that, yes, but there’s also courage in being firm in who you are without having to prove it to the world. And I think that’s where Gaga is now.
Getting back to the point: I was analyzing the evolution of her lyrics with my friend as we drove to dinner. Not to be cocky, but I could overanalyze anything. One could call it my hubris. But tonight, it worked out in my favor. My friend started asking me about my writing. Now, I love to talk about loving to write and all the plans I have for novels that aren’t going to go anywhere and how I used to perform slam poetry blah blah blah, but this conversation, for whatever reason, made me realize that I wasn’t doing what I loved as often as I thought I was.
I created a motto for myself this school year: Do more of what makes you happy. By not making the time to write, am I not following my motto? By making the time to write but not writing what I am really passionate about, is that also breaking my motto? Sadly, I think so. It’s not that I am intentionally depriving myself of some mental need to obtain joy via the written word (*insert sarcastic eye roll here*), it’s that I am missing out on extra joy because I subconsciously internalize my want to produce literature. I don’t make time for writing, other than my blog, because I feel like there are so many better, more productive things to be doing. I could be studying for tests, or reading for bookclub, or calling my parents. I could do my laundry, cook real food for dinner, or vacuum. It feels like there are a thousand more important things in my life right now. But more important to whom?
That’s the catch right there.
I care how people perceive me. I overanalyze it to the point of lunacy. There’s this little voice in my head telling me that if someone caught me spending an hour a day writing for pleasure I would be stripped deserving the titles I have. If I spent an hour a day relaxing by planning out my next novel instead of preparing for Homecoming or reading over my UGA tour notes or creating guides for my next-to-impossible biology exams someone is bound to say that I don’t work hard enough for what I have.
I know I’m not the only one that looks at the things that make me happy and push them to the side because there are “more important” things to do. Part of this, from what I can tell, stems from how competitive my graduating class is. I remembering being in high school where people would brag about not sleeping for days, or using Adderall to stay awake long enough to do weeks worth of homework in a single stretch. I didn’t want to participate in things like that, so I did what I could to keep my grades up and still be a functioning human being. I got into college and that same thing kept going on and on and on. I’m even friends with people that still post on social media each time they’re up in the library past 2 am studying for a test. It’s a competition to prove that you’re the best student because you work the hardest, and it’s not healthy.
We, the collegiate millinials, have an unhealthy competitive edge (that’s probably going to lead us to early graves if I’m being honest). We care too much, and because we care we work to impress others (whether others actually care or not) rather than to fulfill ourselves. I am not asking everyone to become self involved workaholics. I am simply stating that doing self-fulfilling tasks with the fervor you put into your studies and extracurriculars would be a nice change of pace. So, instead of glorifying not sleeping or studying until you nearly collapse, let’s glorify doing things for not other reason than that they make us happy.