I like to keep busy, to the point of even being unable to slow down and truly relax a lot of the time. Sure, I'd like to curl up with a good book, cocoa and a blanket and spend the morning into the afternoon reading. But rather than do this, I get an anxious feeling in my chest to think of doing so.
There's so much to do! I have a list that is quite full of daunting tasks, and until I get all of them done, I don't feel like I should just sit around and relax. I feel guilty for taking time to do nothing when there is so much to be done. Nobody else will do all these things but me, so how can I relax?
As I think into this situation that I so frequently find myself in the middle of, I wonder why I believe that I have to do so much all the time? I would not expect my friends to keep up my own frantic pace. I find that I do want my friends to think of me as somebody who gets things done, though. So in order for me to think that my friends will see me that way, I pile more and more things on my plate to accomplish and do and plan.
What does this do for me? Yes, I do get a lot done. Much of it is not really that important though. I am not saving lives. I am mostly moving objects from one area of life into another, then back; reorganizing, shuffling and occasionally doing an effective endeavor in amongst all the ineffective ones.
I do think a lot. I do feel guilty a lot, and nobody really knows it but me. Even at the end of a day when I have managed to update three websites, write and distribute a news article, do three loads of laundry, fold them and put them away, clean out a closet, scrub down the bathroom, draw three work drawings, read a chapter of a book, cook lunch and dinner, make it to an appointment and even play an hour of Civilization - I still feel like I haven't really applied myself and I could have done better. What was I doing playing a game on the computer when I still have to scrape paint off of the front window and wash them all? My office is still a mess, how can I think of relaxing until that is cleaned up? And anyway, I have s many painting and drawing ideas I wanted to work on, but I won't until my room is cleaned up. Argh!
It is pretty crazy making. My mind likes to come up with all sorts of things that have to be done in order before any of the important projects can begin. I also flop around a lot about which is the more important project. Is getting the house ready to move out of more important than getting a drawing done for my own personal work? Will setting up a painting in my studio be a detriment to showing the place? Does it even matter, in all reality, when we haven't even put the place on the market yet? All of this worry and guilt over choices when it truly does not matter either way right now.
So I suppose I spend a lot of my thinking in the future and not in the present. The problem with this is that there are so many possible futures that I often get lost and confused about where I am going, and so I can't do much right now to make anything happen later. If I start the painting but then have to show the house, where will I put the painting? If I don't clean this room up, I can't think of showing the house since it is a disaster and nobody would want to buy it looking this way. Taking the time to feel quite upset and frustrated about both situations, I can see that in either case, cleaning my office would be a good idea, since I can neither paint nor show the house with the room in its current state.
Yesterday I noticed that I procrastinate a lot. In fact, writing this very article is a form of procrastination for me. I could be drawing, or cleaning, or reading - all of which would be productive for me - but I choose to do this because I feel too anxious about allowing myself to read. I am not sure what to do if I actually got all of my work drawings done. (There would not be any more looming projects for me to do and then I might be useless!) If I read, that seems to me to be way too personally rewarding and not something that could potentially benefit others. Drawings could benefit others. Maybe writing this will benefit someone.
And so now I see that I want always to be benefiting somebody outside of myself, and I am unwilling to benefit myself alone if I see it as such. A little voice in my head says, "It's not nice to be selfish." Though, in trying not to be selfish I do plenty of selfish things, masking it in helping others so that I won't feel too bad about doing what I want to do anyway. Can I accept that? Eventually I will have to.
I also seem to only count a productive action if I am in the midst of it. Even if a project takes me ten hours, if I finish it, then I am no longer being productive and all of that hard work suddenly doesn't register as having happened at all in my head. But this means that even the good work I have done, the projects that have made others happy or helped them, are being considered meaningless in my head now that they have passed. I don't like that very much. I wouldn't want another person to degrade in their thinking an action they did that helped me very much. Perhaps I need to show that same degree of tenderness to myself.
I am chuckling a little bit as I type this because I see how this is somehow so difficult for me. Being kind to myself is really hard for me! I have so for been a lot more comfortable telling myself I am not good enough and need to work harder than telling myself kudos on jobs well done. Even when I consider telling myself that I have accomplished a lot in my thirty-two years, I have a voice that tells me, "Don't get too full of yourself. If you really feel happy about it you run the risk of being content with never pushing yourself to work harder ever again." As if by enjoying accomplishments I will somehow stop ever moving forward in my life again. It's silly. Still though, it is what I do. I will think that I did a good job and I am proud of myself, but I won't surrender into a feeling of joy about it because there is a wall of reserve and judgment staring down the part of me that is proud or satisfied.
I will try to befriend this judge within my heart and mind. Since it is going to be a part of me and has been for such a long time, trying to hide from it, or kill it is not a good solution. In accepting this voice, it may be possible to actually feel better, or at least feel better more often. I'll see what happens.