The other day, I tried something new: I sat completely still for several minutes in the middle of a busy day.
No, I wasn’t sleeping, in case you’re wondering. I merely took several minutes to decompress right there on my desk, in-between my bustling schedule. For around ten minutes, my small desk became my solace of comfort, as I silenced every other outside interference, and focused on breathing alone.
It was then when I realized I’ve neglected this simple decompression method for awhile. Right after getting a new job, I felt like I had to catch up with everyone else as fast as I could, and I sacrificed my much needed rest to work, work, and work.
And it didn’t stop there. Not only did I work from 8am to 11pm during weekdays, I also woke up early every Saturday to write my blog post, and stay up late to work on my writing prompt submissions. I rarely spent my weekends to rest, and instead proceeded to make appointments with friends and business partners to get involved in more work.
It took me a severe tonsillitis and a few days of bedrest to finally realize that I was overworked.
Falling ill after quite some time, ironically, gave me the much needed time and inevitability to reset my thoughts. Among the mundane activities of waking up, eating breakfast, and sleeping until lunchtime, I found that I had sorely missed that kind of mundanity, as a way to eject myself from the ever so arduous daily grind.
And what came over me was a surprising revelation: I did not enjoy everything I was doing.
Not my newfound job. Not even my writing. I even lost interest in watching a currently airing anime show that I’ve been hyping these past three months. And to make things worse, I also lost the interest to enjoy good food, or hang around with friends and family.
Why is it, that when I became so engrossed in whatever I was doing, everything felt like being rushed in a fast forward motion? To follow the daily grind is an easy thing to do; I wake up at the same time every day, get off work at the same time, commute the same way, and get trouble sleeping the same way.
The answer to my questions came not during my sick leave period, but several days ago, when I finally returned to the office to resume my post.
Everything, as I had surmised, went out of control in just a few days. Tasks undone, meetings forgotten, deadlines seemingly roaring at my ears, and some not-so-desirable co-workers stressing my day out. Defeated, I was left with only one thing to do: release my hands from my laptop, and sit still for a few minutes to unplug myself.
And so I did.
I took a deep breath. And then two. Three, four, five. And then my heart started beating normally. I closed my eyes, and the swirling pain from the harsh blue rays of my monitor slowly subsided. I silenced the outer world, letting only a few sounds in, and my world became peaceful.
It was as if being ejected from a sphere polluted with all the mundane things in life, and seeing the sphere from an external orbit; I suddenly see things I couldn’t see before.
Like how the tasks I hadn’t done didn’t really matter that much, after all. Or how the meetings can still go on without me attending. Or how practically nobody will blame me if the project doesn’t meet the deadline, because it wasn’t my team’s fault to begin with. Or even my co-worker, who’s just trying to be nice in her own way.
Everything that almost crushed me suddenly turned into very trivial matters. And everything that was strangling me with urgency, suddenly didn’t feel so urgent at all. As I broke off the trance, I realized that no matter how busy, there is no deadline that could prevent you from taking a moment off to unplug and readjust yourself before getting back in the game.
Right before writing this blog post, I was also quite stressed out, thinking of an interesting topic to cover. There were a lot of options, ranging from writing tips to short stories. But honestly speaking, I was in no mood to write either of them.
So I didn’t.
I paused in front of my laptop, closed my eyes, and focused only on breathing. It was the much needed pause from my world that I needed; the very same that brought me stillness. Only then did I realize, that nobody is forcing me to write blog posts I don’t enjoy writing.
Nobody forced me to work up late every night. Nobody forced me to feel or think negatively about my job, my co-worker, and my life. Nobody forced me to sacrifice my weekends and swamp myself with more work. The decision was made by me, and myself alone.
It felt ironic, but also liberating.
After all, if nobody forced me to do any of them, then it also means there’s nothing preventing me from exempting myself from them, either.
This post is dedicated to Emilya Kusnaidi, who just celebrated her birthday several days ago.
I know you feel like the weight of the world is crushing you. But please try to pause from time to time, and let everything fall into place. There’s no need for you to force yourself into doing the things you don’t enjoy.
There’s no need for you to rush towards achieving your goals; the world will wait for you and your greatness.
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