The Art of Doing Nothing

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Getting closer to 30 is just as exhilarating as I assumed it would be. For as long as I can remember I’ve been longing for 30. For me, 30 always meant being able to live the “boring” lifestyle everyone claimed I lived anyway, without feeling any guilt about things I should be doing. It’s almost like how babies become a grand excuse to get out of things. “I can’t go to that thing with you tonight, you see I’m 30 now.”

I’ve always enjoyed doing nothing. I played on my own a lot as a child (I know, major surprise there). I enjoyed going on trips or staying over with my grandparents. Their slower pace suited me; there was so much space for all that daydreaming I was occupied with. Anyway. As you grow up, you start realising that doing nothing is not valued by our society. On public transportation you see people working, to save time. Instead of just enjoying the train ride, you could do some work on your laptop, or at least read a book. As technology progressed, this became even more prominent. There are now more and more tools for us to use in order to secure productivity at all times.

I could never be productive all of the time. I get spurts, and if I miss one of those spurts it’s g o n e. On buses and trains I prefer to do nothing at all. At cafes, my favourite pastime is to do absolutely nothing at all. Maybe browse on the internet, maybe listening to music, maybe read or write down some words in my journal. But for me, those activities is just an extension of a daydream. Not something that will actually lead to something. It’s doing an activity with an end goal in mind that I have a problem with, not the act of doing itself.

One of the perks of almost being 30, especially as a woman, is knowing how your body works in seasons, too. You become aware of when you have energy to produce, invent, organise, analyse or when you should simply do nothing other than just rest. Let things simmer. Otherwise the flavours won’t come out etc. My body has worked the same for many years now; there are a couple of hours a day where I can be creative - but not every day. I cannot study or write an essay after 5pm. My brain shuts down.

I remember days in college where me and my friends would all go to Starbucks for an intense study-session, and all I did was just stare at pictures of dogs (probably). I called it procrastination. I thought it was me trying actively NOT to work. We look at procrastination as something negative, and maybe it is. But maybe we don’t always procrastinate just cause we choose not to do something? Maybe we just need that time to be spent doing absolutely nothing at all.

None of those days where I rested instead of working did me any harm. I still graduated. With good grades, mind you. I went to bed early. I avoided all-nighters like the plague. I knew that wasn’t my style, I couldn’t handle it. And this I hold very dear: the knowledge of exactly what my body needs.

Right now I’m not working. I’m in between jobs. I’m taking some time to do absolutely nothing at all. It helps that the first weeks of my unemployment is being spent pre-menstruating and menstruating. Yes I said it. It helps slow things down, it allows me to not rush into things and then feeling like shit because it wasn’t the right type of thing. I know there will be a time when I won’t like resting, where I thrive on being creative and productive. But I know that that time is not right now. And acknowledging your seasons gives you all the power.

Some inspiring articles:

“In a world that has glorified hustling and exhaustion in pursuit of creative production for far too long, my cycle has shown me sustainable creativity is not only possible, but wildly effective.” - Claire Baker
https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/story/claire-baker-periods-and-creativity/

“We don’t have to glorify work. … There are only so many hours in a day, and I’ll be damned if I will work more of them than I have to.” - Laura Jane Williams
https://www.redonline.co.uk/red-women/blogs/a25829735/laura-jane-williams-death-to-the-hustle/