Do your friends regard you as work oriented?
Do you stay awake at night thinking about your career rather than your weekend?
Do you push your friends away at the sight of opportunity?
Do you sacrifice your sleep, fun and happiness in order to get ahead?
Do you turn to destructive things in order to help?
Do you make rash decisions and abandon your work if it doesn't pan out?
You need balance.
I spent a lot of time taking myself way too seriously. Over the year or so, I realized that was all a load of shit. I'd wake up, and be all business. Anyone who was choosing to "relax" or God forbid "have fun" was a loser to me.
I never thought of myself as anything but professional, until I lost control completely.
My life existed in black and white. It was either all all work, or all play. No in between. I was living an unhealthy mix of rock and roll and straight-laced anxiety that had me careening toward a concrete wall at a million miles per hour. Nobody can sustain that kind of pressure and chaos. It's just not healthy.
Part of growing up is finding balance, which can be illusive for someone like me, and someone like you. Let's face it, in the giant cosmic void that is our universe, what grade we get on an exam or what benchmarks we hit at work aren't that important. Sure, in our little worlds everything is do or die, but in order to really hit those goals, we have to stop taking everything so seriously.
Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "Life has become immeasurably better, since I have been forced to stop taking it so seriously."
This quote got me thinking...am I just taking everything too seriously? Is my youth doomed to be forgotten in a pile of obligations and goals? Am I forcing myself into not having any fun because I don't believe it'll yield any benefit? That kind of thinking isn't healthy, not for a 22 year old anyway.
There is a certain kind of duality to people. We all have the parts of us who are outrageous, party oriented and social. We also have the parts that want to work, achieve, be successful and sink into solitary habits.
I didn't know the two could...or rather...had to work together to create a better version of me. A whole version anyway.
I was working so hard that I ultimately let everything else fade away: my relationships, my friends, my boyfriends, my humanity. I put so much pressure on myself that I couldn't be human anymore. I was a machine, and one day something in me just broke. That's when I became a total waster and stopped working entirely.
Taking life seriously forced me into a lack of care and value for it. And that became dangerous. Everything I worked so hard for felt like a giant disappointment. Nothing was ever good enough. And I had to get over that.
I had to get over myself.
After working too hard and losing control for a while, I came to find balance. After things stabilized in my life, I ended up having more fun, taking more chances. I still had my work-ethic, but wasn't so freaked out by pressure that I had to cut lose and be dangerous.
Having fun is a necessary evil to those who crave productivity, but ultimately going off the rails made me a better writer, and a better person too.
Never believing that you are enough, and working so hard that you can't function on a human level are direct products of self-loathing and low self-image. I'm still working on that.
Having human experiences and getting messy gave me a unique perspective that a lot of people couldn't replicate. Ultimately the choice to stop working so hard and create a playful and risky existence was a direct product of balance.
Once I achieved a healthier mix of work and play I didn't feel all the anxiety of work, or the compulsion to destroy myself to feel alive. I just felt...okay. And that's the first step.
After we leave the nest, take on our first jobs and pray that we're good enough, we start to hit our groove. It may take a while, but you will get there. All it takes is a little bit of levity, some good fun and the belief that you can balance everything out, despite all of the problems and doubts along the way.