“What are you pushing yourself for?” the doctor said, as he gave me the same look that I last saw as a dweebish, rotund child at the finish line of the 200m sprint, out of breath and still the last-place finisher. It’s funny; I’d never really considered that.
After twiddling my thumbs I decided to get a dull pain in the right hand side of my body that had been bothering me for the past few months checked out a few days ago. I had dismissed it as nothing more than a nagging muscle pain or something else of that nature; besides, I was well too busy to worry about such trivial matters like going to see a doctor anyways. I had better things to do. Important things. Yes, lots of important things.
“It could be your gall bladder, or a liver deficiency,” the doctor said rather glumly. “are you doing anything at the moment that might be inducing un-needed stress?”
It wasn’t until I slowly started to recite all the concurrent events & goals in my life to a semi-perfect stranger that it began to dawn onto me exactly what he was trying to infer. You’re pushing yourself too hard. But… why?
Have I only myself to blame for all this? After all, we’re constantly peppered with rags-to-riches stories of ‘hustling’ from the street up. We’re bombarded with people constantly lamenting on social media channels of how hard their ‘grind’ is and how much workload they’ve managed to pile up for themselves like some type of trophy or issuance of a challenge to match their feat. We hear these inspirational speeches of how successful individuals slave day and night over 28 hour days; “I started off in my parent’s basement!”… “I started selling teeshirts/LPs from the trunk of my car!”… “sleep is for when you’re dead.”, and other choice
It seems increasingly more as the years pass that to get anywhere one needs to be perceived as being busy, almost for the sake of just being seen to be busy. Moving and shaking; hustling; whatever you’d like to call it. The modern day equivalent of the pecking order is whose phone has the most unread messages, the most @ replies, the most comments, the most BBM/Whatsapp messages flashing, all simultaneously yearning for your attention and acting as a testament to your popularity as an individual. Most proudly proclaim this to their friends (and, as it just so happens, most people within a 5 metre radius) in a cool-guy dismissive gesture, yet secretly they can’t wait to read every single one of those messages once they’re alone. It’s the new addiction for Generation Y – the incessant need to be seen to be doing a million things at once to validate themselves to their peers. Have I been guilty of this? Sure. Is it a generation of networkers & entrepreneurs spiraling out of control?
I think so.
Perhaps we’re all so deeply entrenched in this cult of self-esteem that we are now only realizing the depths of where we’ve sunk to. We’ve all faked it so much that we’ve lost sight of knowing how to actually make it. After all, all the truly successful people I’ve ever encountered didn’t seem to be bothered with festidiously occupying themselves with things to do at every waking moment. In fact, they savour all the down time they had, recharging for when the energy is required of them to focus on the next job at hand. Every move they make in their career is calm and calculated, because the objective to them, as it seems, is not to finish the race first, but to be the one strolling across the finish, and not collapsing beyond it.
Knowing when to be busy is also about knowing when not to be. Do you really see yourself pre-occupied by all the things that you’re doing right now in a couple decade’s time? I’ll be sodomized by a rusty pole if you catch me bleating on about my twenty million ‘projects’ when I’m 50 years old. I’d much rather be sitting in a small sailboat somewhere, unperturbed by whatever latest social media trend and truly NGAF’ing to the utmost of my ability.
For all those out there who strive on succeeding, remember that life is a pendulum. Don’t be that one guy that wants to be busier than everybody else in the room. If you do, chances are, I won’t be the only one secretly laughing at you inside. Remember to swing that pendulum back across the other way, because just as you can be ‘that guy that does everything’ you can be the one that your friends quietly roll their eyes when you’re not watching because all you do is talk about the things that you’re doing. Sooner or later, it’s all going to sound like a hot gibberish mess of complete nonsense, in desperate need of editing.
I’d imagine this post is more relevant to the freelancers and self-starters out there. I’m not advocating being lazy at your job – I’m simply asking for people to consider balancing their lives a little more instead of incessantly adding things onto their already full plate. So, the next time you’re inclined to reply to a work email, reply to that facebook comment or start some whatsapp/bbm conversation at some ungodly hour of the night, try to think twice. Close that laptop. Put your phone on silent. Read a book, or listen to a record. Don’t worry, I’m still trying to figure out how as well.
Time may be money, but just like that weird vintage plate you bought at some flea market that now lives in the corner of your cupboard, it can be a purchase you’ll learn to regret over time.
Editor’s Note: Frank Liew is the founder and creative head of Qubic Store, based in Auckland New Zealand. A frequent flyer and part-time global adventurer, he is in charge of the creative direction of co-branded projects and initiatives with Qubic Store and its list of brand clients, including Nike Sportswear, adidas Originals, New Balance, Casio G-Shock and others. Frank is also a contributing writer for local national newspapers, sites and international publications, including Obscura Magazine, the New Zealand Herald, The Denizen, and is a resident blogger on HYPEBEAST and THINK SILLY. A fan of cynical tweets and a partially serious runner with Team GIRA, Frank also harbors a rather bad addiction for cameras, most things on four & two wheels… and the occasional giant gummy bear.
Disclaimer: The opinions seen here reflect those of the author and are not necessarily representative of the beliefs and interests of this site.