Today’s post is something different, today I am telling you a story. An honest, weird, confusing story. I typically try my hardest to make sure that the posts here on Dani Dearest are helpful, answering some sort of question that you have and inspiring you to step up and succeed in your life and studies.
Today is different: I’m talking, telling, sharing a story of something that I am struggling with right now.
Maybe in a few weeks or months I’ll follow up with the “solution” to this struggle, or maybe you’ll be able to help me find it by sharing what you do in this situation. Maybe you relate, maybe you don’t. Either way, here it is.
Last week I tried something new: I left my phone inside, took my watch off, took my book outside, and read.
It was a beautiful day out, perfect and warm without being too hot, sunny without being too bright. The book I was reading was insightful and inspiring, funny and well worded.
IT. DROVE. ME. NUTS.
I had no electronics around me what-so-ever. No music, no podcasts, no Netflix… just the laughing of the children next door.
I had no way to check the time, but I also had nowhere to be or go and no reason to care what time it was.
I had no way to text my boyfriend, Anthony, who was at work who, even though live with, I still text constantly.
Just me and the book.
I was so uncomfortable.
I was on edge. Did Anthony need me? No, of course not. Was it getting late? You have nowhere to be today, calm down. Why aren’t I watching TV right now? Rory and Lorelai will survive if you don’t watch them eat at Luke’s Diner for the 40th time, I promise.
I was enjoying the book, but I was also physically squirming in my seat like a 3rd grader who needs to shake their wiggles out after recess.
After forcing myself to be uncomfortable for as long as possible (about 45 minutes) I closed my book and went inside.
I stared at my phone which sat face up on my nightstand, notification light blinking. Why did I feel like this?
I checked my phone, only having missed a non-vital message from my boyfriend during my time away, and wondered what was so important that I was glued to that screen all the time?
I spend all day at work on a computer. I spend all night at home with the TV on or on my phone or my laptop.
This made me realize two things.
1) No wonder I needed to get glasses two years ago.
2) Hi, I’m Dani and I am a multitasking addict.
It’s true. As I’m typing this on one computer screen, I am watching Gilmore Girls on the other screen, and my phone is laid out in my lap playing a game.
Multitasking started as way to improve my productivity, and it worked. In college I was the pro who could write a 5 page paper for a class while studying lines for a course performance and answering emails for the club I was in charge of. I could post a Facebook event for my organization while walking to class and planning my next blog post in my head. I would come back to my dorm and make myself lunch while watching the latest episode of The Daily Show to keep up on the news and have my notes in front of me to cram for my philosophy exam that evening.
In college I juggled a full load of classes, multiple jobs, this blog, a long-term relationship, ran a student organization, had a social life, and got at least 8 hours of sleep.
With only 24 hours in the day, multitasking was necessary.
This also meant that any actual free time that I had was spent sleeping or watching TV, trying desperately to recover from the constant work.
Now that I’m out of college, life has slowed down. My days are consumed by work, but the best part is that when I clock out and I get to go home. My work doesn’t follow me home like school work did. I get to leave my responsibilities and projects at the office, and I get to have a home life.
This has taken a lot of getting used to.
The mental block of having free time that I don’t have to spend basically rapid relaxing to recover from working constantly is really difficult to get over. In college my free evenings were rare, so I would go to bed early or spend the night watching a movie to try to recharge. Now, everytime I get home from work I have that same “free evening” feeling, and I feel that pressure to relax.
Pressure to relax… how weird is that?
I still feel busy, constantly. When I’m not actually busy it feels wrong, and rare, and like I need to fall asleep sleep instantly. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing here very often, it’s so hard to get that energy and feel like I have the time to write.
So, when I need to get things done I lean into the busy… I multitask.
I listen to podcasts at work, watch Netflix while I meal prep, and play games on my phone while I answer emails at home.
While I enjoy those things, they bring some entertainment to otherwise mundane tasks like meal prepping, that experiment of sitting outside without my phone and freaking out really worries me.
In college my self-care consisted of squeezing in an episode of Friends between meetings, taking a bubble bath at midnight when I should be studying, and sleeping in past my 8am class when I needed it.
That was all I had time for
Now it’s different, now that I have real free time, that same frantic self care stresses me out.
I need to find how to relax, how to have fun, how to deal with having free time and not just falling asleep or watching TV all the time.
I may not be in school anymore, but I’m still learning.