DISCLAIMER: A personal, abstract post.
I really should find another outlet for these.
“Don’t tell a story without making a point, and don’t make a point without telling a story”: A phrase that had been rolling around in my head like directionless tumbleweed for a while, scattering debris along the way.
Over the last few weeks I haven’t felt like writing much. Not because I haven’t had the time, or because I’ve had nothing to write about, but because my motivation was crushed by this juicy (and growing) tumbleweed.
The tumbleweed started as one negative thought. One weed. But it started to navigate itself, wreaking havoc in my mind, leaving seeds of criticism: Why should I write? WHAT IS MY POINT? What am I talking about? Where is this going? Why should I bother? Why do I care? Why does anyone care?
I felt paralysed by these weeds. Unable to create. Unwilling to socialise. Unavailable for fun. I had no motivation for anything.
Why Motivation is Important to Me
In my last post, I wrote about my constant battle with perfectionism; motivation helps me to move beyond my perfectionism.
Now, what I am about to say is not for sympathy, it just helps to get to my final ‘point’ – it’s a brutally honest realisation of myself.
I, probably like many other people, have never felt confident in myself or my abilities. More specifically though, for a number of reasons (which I won’t get into now), I’ve never really felt like I have ‘belonged’ anywhere. I’ve felt like an imposter. I would tell myself that I haven’t worked hard enough to be happy, successful or smart. And that one day, someone is going to find me out for the fraud that I am. To feel more accepted I would use perfectionism in my work so that people would be more likely to accept me. – – If you are ‘perfect’, there is nothing left to criticise.
Obviously perfection is unrealistic but you catch my drift… People get motivation from different places and for different reasons. My motivation comes from wanting to contribute to something meaningful. I am easier on myself when I am doing something to help others. And every small step makes it easier.
How is this Relevant?
The reason I am sharing this here, is because my negative thoughts have been greatest since coming to Japan. This has led me to procrastinate and at times, lose my motivation. Life is a blessing but it’s not always sunshine and leprechauns – I wouldn’t be authentic if I told you that I never have a bad day.
Everything is all right though. It’s all right for me to feel like this sometimes. And if you can relate to anything I’ve said, I want to reassure you that that’s all right too. ‘Emotion’ is not a dirty word. Emotions are there for a reason.
“There is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so” – William Shakespeare
How I Removed the Tumbleweed
Don’t get me wrong. Parts of the tumbleweed are still rattling around up there, I mean it would probably make me an egomaniac if I didn’t criticise myself! The difference between this week and last week though, is that I’m not indulging myself in self-pity. I’m feeling normal again. How? Firstly, I stopped telling myself that I needed to feel better immediately. Instead of telling myself that I was worthless because I didn’t feel good. I gave myself permission to say: “I don’t feel like it, so I’m not going to do it.”
Since leaving a 9-5 job that has been one of the highest hurdles to jump: allowing myself to spend my time how I want. It’s incredible how brainwashed I was (and still am to an extent). I would think “if I don’t get up and dressed by 9am then I have wasted my day” and “if I don’t work 40 hours a week I am lazy.”
I am not a robot. I am most productive in the evening. I prefer to sleep later and wake-up later. My identity is not defined by the number of hours I work. Death by overwork is a real thing and I don’t need to base my self-worth on a fictitious timeline.
After I accepted that I should spend my time how I fucking well want to. I wrote a list of all of the things I could possibly need to feel better and then started doing them. It went something like this:
Do you want to sing?
Do you need to create something?
Do you need to run?
Do you want to watch Shin-chan?
Do you want to talk?
Do you need to be outside?
Do you want to play a game?
And hence I was cured… After a few chats and a dance around the room to Hypnotize I felt better. I know that sounds like a stupidly simple solution but that really was it for me. I accepted how I felt and allowed myself to have fun with no expectations, until I once again felt motivated to continue with the things I cared about.
What is the ‘Point’ of this Story?
Motivation comes and goes but what’s important is that we acknowledge we are all doing the best we can. No-one can be productive all of the time. We have to allow ourselves to accept how we feel without judgement, to connect with ourselves and the things we care about, to do the things that make us smile and to give ourselves the freedom to be creative.
How do you stay motivated? What motivates/de-motivates you?