As first published on Harness Magazine
Making your dreams come true is exhausting. Our society rooted in capitalism makes us believe that our inherent worth is tied to how hard we work and how much we produce. These last few days during the holidays has been left to the void for me, no structure, no productivity. I have been feeling a sense of guilt because of it. There’s so much I could have gotten done for my passion projects on my days off from my 9-5 job. There is so much I want to accomplish to get better, be better. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day.
One of my tragic flaws is my need for productivity. Even my leisure time becomes goal-oriented. Like, the way I watch my shows on Netflix is framed as a task needing to be accomplished. My life is a continual to-do list, and I receive deep satisfaction for checking things off. Most of the time it comes in handy. Feeling accomplished for the smallest achievement can be great, and breaking down larger tasks into subgoals helps me manage feeling overwhelmed. It’s only a detriment when I do things, not on my great to-do list (like aimlessly scrolling on Instagram or feeding this goal-oriented weakness by playing The Sims) where I feel guilt, and maybe a little shame. And that’s not ok.
I saw this post on Instagram the other day (while aimlessly scrolling, shoutout to @jordanpickellcounseling) about having New Year’s resolutions that are not about willpower or deprivation, and how these goals can be rooted in guilt and shame. We see so much stuff this time of year about weight loss and making money. We fixate on the things we feel are not good enough about ourselves and want to change it. We look at the lives other people are living and forget to have gratitude for our own lives.
Resolutions and intentions should be about becoming a better person, yes, but it shouldn’t be about changing who you are because being yourself causes you guilt and shame. Find those sources of guilt and shame and love them harder. This time of year should be about expanding yourself and growing, not cutting away parts of who you are. But certainly, if there are parts of you or things in your life that no longer serve you in your journey, then those things will shed because that’s a part of growth.
I’m not going to tell myself to stop being productive. The things that make me feel productive are, for the most part, things I like to do or things that I need to do in order to care for myself. Instead, I’m going to add more self-compassion in my life for not accomplishing everything I think should be accomplished in the timeline I pressure myself to be on. Rest is just as important as the work to make sure everything sets into place.
There are a lot of things we can do and create and produce to make ourselves look better to other people, but what are the things we can do to be better for ourselves and uplift our communities? Those are the things we should be focusing on after the craze of the New Year’s resolutions dies down.