More or less
The reality of the real world is that there’s always more that we can do. The hard part is in deciding when you’ve got that right amount– but the “right amount” in itself needs to be contextualised in terms of your goals, because right and wrong is just relative to what it is that you want to get to.
Which is a long winded way of saying that basically, everything is a bit easier if you know what you’re after, and in what order you want to get those things. Once you know what you want, you just have to decide how much of a rush you are in to get there.
Last week, [CM] and I got on a cruise ship to New Caledonia, which is to Australia what Hawaii or Cuba is to North Americans.
Now, on one hand, I feel a bit guilty about it because cruise ships are, frankly, beastly. It’s like taking a Las Vegas hotel/casino, breaking it off at the foundations, and throwing it into the water, and somehow make it capable of not only floating, but sailing. That takes an insane amount of fuel and supplies that get expended at a totally inefficient rate compared to any other form of sustainable living.
Not to mention that the crew’s wages are, well, not great, despite that they’re very well trained not give you the slightest hint that they’re in any way unhappy with their jobs.
The end result of all the externalisation is that I get to take a ridiculously enjoyably vacation for 8 days for less than 500$, which includes delicious foods all day around.
I am conflicted, because I am someone who really wants to get somewhere without having to live on the shoulders of anyone else. I want to live a more sustainable lifestyle that wastes less and that makes it so that when I leave this planet, I’ve left it with a bit more than less.
Let me put those thoughts to one side first though.
Despite my hippie side, there are other things that I want to do in life– like get through law school in one piece, and eventually have a successful career, and start a family with CM. But to do all this?
I need to survive first.
And that means knowing how to manage my mental state. Deciding when enough is enough.
A day before we left on the vacation, I was so strained between thesis writing, working, and schooling that I had been sleeping 5-6 hours per night for 4 nights in a row. I was going to school or working every weekday from 9-5, coming home, having dinner, and then writing papers until 11 or 12 at night. It was, frankly, killing me.
But it wasn’t in the cards for me to give anything up– the way that things were scheduled, I just had to do all of it.
Quitting really wasn’t much of an option, because I had set a goal of finishing the licensing course and my postgrad degree by a certain time of the year (before my visa runs out). I mean, sure, quitting is always an option– but it’s not a very good one. I decided I could tough it out. And I did.
Part of what enabled me to get through that hellish period, which was worse than any final exam preparation period, was that I decided to just cut back on the perfectionism. I started calculating my time in terms of my ability to provide an efficient return on results. If the efficiency started to drop, then it was time to say that was enough for now– move on to a new task and cover the field with some effort, rather than focus too much on any one area and just get a few good results here or there.
In reality, this is what people do in the adult world all the time. You do the best you can with the time you’ve got. I think that university is really bad for students like that– it gives you this illusion that all you need is dedication. In a university situation, you laregely have huge amounts of time to prepare for a final exam or an essay– it is the procrastination that kills you with stress when you try to cram it all in. It’s not so bad because a couple of week of exams and it’s all over right? Then the problems dissapear.
In the adult world, there is always something else to do. I’m not saying that this means that you don’t do your best– but I am saying that doing your best at work is only part of doing your best at life– and you need to manage your energy in that way. You need to pick and chose your battles. And not only that, you need to treat the situation like a marathon– not a sprint. You can’t burn yourself out too early– getting to the finish line is more important than passing some people in the short term.
Part of my strongest features, I think, is that I have a pretty good understanding of my limitations. Yes, I bitch a lot– and you as readers get to read a hell a lot of my bitching. But this all here is more me recording what I’m doing and how it taxes me than it is me really bitching about things totally out of my control.
I generally know how tell myself that enough is enough. Which is why there is a lot of wisdom in me being passionate about non-academic and non-professional pursuits– because those alternate lives are what I use to escape to and allow my brain to exhale.
Long story short– I am back from vacation. But just as some people live from paycheque to paycheque, I am living from assignment to assignment. I never really look at anything more than 2 days before it’s due (either at school or at work) because there is so much on my plate, and so many plates behind that one, that there’s nothing to be done except do what I can in the time I have.
Yes, I write a lot on this blog that is negative. This too is part of my self-medication.
This post is all over the place because I’m really exhausted.
The secret of living a balanced life is giving a fuck, and knowing when to stop giving a fuck, in order to balance your mental health in a way where you retain the ability to enjoy things and maintain connections with those around you. If you lose the love of what you’re doing, or those around you, what’s left?