Looking back at my first newsletters, I see how leisurely it all was. I’d write a bit, then jump in the pool, then watch Netflix for four hours, then pick up writing where I left off. Now, I’m running on empty, barely squeezing out each newsletter (read: last week). Honestly, though, I’m more inspired. Running on empty works for a lot of people. It works for me. Running on empty keeps me thinking and keeps me moving. I always say I’m much happier stressed and busy than when I’m bored. Being bored stifles my creativity and my motivation. When I operate on sensitive timelines and owe other people my work and time, I feel like I’m living a productive life.
Running on E is dangerous though. More than I’d like to admit I’ve run my car down to “5 miles to E” before pulling into a gas station. What if my car was registering wrong and that was a false reading? Yikes. My family has a sketchy history with cars and I’m not really interested in contributing to that narrative any more than I already have.
Contrary to what we’d like to believe, no one can run on E forever. As much as I’d love to be stressed, anxious, and tired all the time, it’s impossible to keep up with that lifestyle and still be a happy human being. Anyone who says they are existing both drained and happy long term is lying. In order to stay alive, we all have to find ways to fill back up again (OKAY- I refuse to maintain a gas station metaphor any longer. For future reference, consider it implied).
It’s a tricky thing, finding the right things to bring you sanity. If you choose wrong, your activity of choice will just add more stress to your life and leave you more taxed and frustrated than before. Photography is great, and I love it, but in a way it’s work, just maybe on a smaller scale. Netflix is great, it helps me relax, but it doesn’t fill me up. Sometimes, if I watch it long enough, it actually leaves me feeling tired and more empty than before. Writing is my form of release. Unfortunately, it is so stressful and so hard. But I think that’s what makes it so good for me.
One of my biggest fears is living a sedentary life. A life without movement. Writing keeps me moving, while allowing me to slow down and think. Writing helps me feel productive, a feeling that, when it’s missing, can get me into trouble. Writing frustrates me to no end because I’m always thinking will people like this? Why am I even doing this? Who is even reading this? And yet I still do it. I do it because I love it, not because it’s easy.
Watching Netflix is easy. Sleep is easy. Both of those things are two of my favorite activities, but I can’t function by just doing those. At some point you have to decide to work hard even when you’re not at work, to learn when you’re not being instructed, and to care about something other than your own comfort.
It’s easy to see other people working hard and moving forward and thinking, “that’s not me. I don’t have those talents. I don’t have that opportunity.” And the truth is, you probably don’t. But rarely do people get places on talent alone. People push themselves for what they want. They run on E for the majority of their life in order to better themselves and the people around them. They find something to bring them back up, something that keeps them going.
None of this is exclusive, either. How we operate in our personal life has a direct connection to our performance at work, in school, wherever we may be. It’s like when you play the Sims and spend hours staring at your screen watching your Sim “study” so he/she can get the next promotion. It's a slow, arduous process. It’s so frustrating to put in the time to get what you want! But there’s a connection. Time spent outside of work, no matter how social or exciting, affects everything you do during that 9-5.