Being an adult is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

I have a hard time mentally with allowing myself to have a “lazy” day or evening. Something in my brain is wired to believe that if I’m not being productive, then I’m being a failure. I’m not taking care of what needs to be done. I’m avoiding things I could and should be doing and instead am (GASP) just enjoying myself doing “nothing”.

Even being able to recognize where this mode of thinking originated from, it’s still difficult to change it. For instance, my ex-husband used to call me at work and say “Hey, whatcha doin’?” I would reply with something funny I’d found on the internet or some joke someone had sent me and inevitably his reply would be “Glad to know you’re working hard.” It was a running joke, but there always seemed to be an element of truth behind it. He had a job that required him to drive, be outside and was generally very physical, whereas I work in an office and can do most of my tasks remotely from my desk. And because I instinctively want to please people I care about, I would feel guilty for not “working hard”, even when I had downtime, because he was constantly working hard. And I am very very good at feeling guilty for things that I probably shouldn’t.

That’s not the only thing that contributed to this way of thinking, but it did have an impact. And even now, living on my own, I still feel guilty when I have evenings on the couch by myself where I do “nothing”.

“Nothing” usually means catching up on back episodes of a show on Netflix or Amazon, surfing the internet or reading a book. “Nothing” means NOT doing laundry or dishes, NOT working on the umpteen projects I have sitting around in various stages of “not finished”. “Nothing” means not being productive.

Rationally, I know it’s okay to take an evening or afternoon off and just unwind. That it’s okay to let everything just sit. Does it mean I’m not a good person? No. Would I tell someone else that it’s okay to have downtime? Absolutely. So why is it so hard for me to allow myself to have it without feeling bad about it?

It’s a hard change to make. It got hard-wired in during my early 20′s, when we’re all a little chaotic inside but ultimately start forming the foundations for who we are later in life. Even if I tell myself “Tonight it’s okay to sit on the couch, eat whatever I want and watch Netflix until I fall asleep!” I still feel horribly irresponsible and GUILTY over it. I do it anyway, but there’s a lingering feeling of negativity associated with it. I’m even hesitant to post on G+ or Facebook that I’m “taking a night off” because I’m irrationally afraid someone will call me out on something I should be doing instead. Which is A LITTLE INSANE!

I’m slowly working through it. And I really believe I need those evenings/afternoons off to recharge. I just need to work on being okay with taking them.

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2 Responses to Being an adult is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

  1. You’re right, it shouldn’t be so hard to relax….
    I have trouble accepting that I’ve achieved anything unless I’m being paid in some way. As the secondary wage earner, I really feel some pressure to help take the onus off my wife. She works really hard, has a high pressure job, and I only work part time, and I write too. I also look after the kids, but that’s no big deal.
    If I spend time writing a new play, I want it to be a raging success, but they never are. They earn a reasonable amount over time, but that’s not the same thing at all….

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  2. Haley says:

    Remember those times when you were “so productive/busy” you wore yourself out and could only survive on autopilot for the next few days/weeks? I think we have all had those times and I see those times as reminders that we NEED downtime to be productive at all. Autopilot is good for surviving but not great for doing things well. Also I know I am a better person when I am not stretched too thin. Good luck on getting rid of “the guilty” feeling. It’s not easy, but it makes for a good evening.

    Take Care!

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