10 Things I Need To Stop Doing (And Maybe You, Too)

Flickr / Ignacio Palomo Duarte
Flickr / Ignacio Palomo Duarte

It’s weird: I came to graduate school because I want to write, but I find it virtually impossible to find a little time to write. And then I complain about always being busy. And then I get so unhappy and restless and resentful toward this decision I made to go to graduate school. And then I just wish someone would give me all the answers and I didn’t have to do any work and I could just start out making $500,000 a year after someone accidentally discovered something brilliant I wrote on some dumb blog that I started with the intention to keep up with, but can’t find the time. Repeat cycle of complaining and nagging and feeling sorry for myself, etc. And then after reflecting on all these inner thoughts, I wanted to smack myself and say, “you’re doing it all wrong.”

In honor of realizing how vapid and sometimes self-absorbed I can be, and being the source of my own problems and never the solution, I give you:

1. Not partaking in me-time.

Spreading myself too thin has been a tactic of mine ever since middle school. It is my way to cram everything I want to do into a certain frame of time, even if it means doing things half-assedly, as I tend to do most of the time. I just needed to constantly busy myself to feel fulfilled. I also hate saying no to people. Especially people who want to do fun things. Like shopping or drinking or just hanging out and watching Netflix while we abandon any sense of what we should actually be doing. The extrovert in me screams, NEED SOCIAL INTERACTION. NOW. While the rational side of me (which rarely rears it’s reasonable head) knows that I need to slow down, say no for once, and take a little time to unwind myself. Sure, living life fast-paced is exciting and exhilarating, and makes you feel alive, but sometimes it’s nice to pull away and just chill out for a bit. I need to learn to say yes to myself before I keep saying yes to everyone else. So go away and don’t tempt me, guys. Stop asking me do to cool stuff with you.

2. Neglecting to see the bright side.

I tend to be a complainer. Surprise. If you haven’t gathered that after 10 minutes of knowing me, then you’ve probably got the wrong Jessica. Or I might be drunk. I tend to be carefree and generally jolly in that state. I am so fucking annoying. If I could record myself during the day, and then play it back without knowing it was me speaking, I’d be like, LOL who’s this naggy bitch?! Then someone would tell me that it was me, and I’d be like damn, I suck. Part of this is because I always look at the negative side of things. A prime example is my job as a tutor. It’s always, oh, I have to go into work and tutor kids who probably won’t even understand what I’m telling them? What a drag. Instead of, oh, I have the opportunity to help these students have a better knowledge of English while also aiding them with basic grammatical structure and writing style? FUCKING SWEET, THIS JOB IS THE TITS. And in all honestly, it’s an incredible job. I get paid to help students do what I love: write. I get to influence their writing, and they take little pieces of my influence and weave them into their thoughts and type them on their papers and get a higher grade because of something I helped them with. Who would complain about that? An asshole, that’s who. Time to start looking at the positives and seeing things as wicked opportunities, not weighty obligations.

3. Wasting money on things that I don’t need.

It’s a paradox: this is the poorest I’ve ever been, yet I spend more than I ever had. What’s the science behind that? I’m sure there’s some psychological principle named after some German guy that refers to the phenomenon I’m talking about. I. Can’t. Stop. Spending. It’s bad. If I forget to make coffee one morning, I don’t have to worry, because there are approximately 56,984 Dunkin Donuts in Boston. If I forget to make lunch, which I attest that I rarely have time for, which I’m sure I would if I stopped Facebooking and Buzzfeeding so damn much, I can always stop at City Convenience and get some soup. While I’m in line there, I’ll also see stuff like notebooks, candy bars, tampons, another pair of gloves, an extra umbrella, motor oil that I decide that I NEED to have. I also notoriously frequent the fine dining establishments of Scoozi, Yardhouse, and Bertucci’s, wherein I promise myself, okay, this is the last time I’ll eat out this week, and I’ll only have ONE more overpriced drink, and end up drunk and on the wrong train after splitting a pitcher, while I’m texting a friend scheduling dinner for the next night. I need to start applying the whole, less is more principle here. The less money I have, the more I need to work on not blowing it on cheap thrills.

4. Taking the train so often.

I live 1.4 miles away from school. I live 1.2 miles away from my best friend. And all of my immediate needs like a grocery store, a post office, a pharmacy and a liquor store are all in walking distance from my apartment. Yet I take the train or the bus everywhere. And all of the scenery blurs together, and all the little shops and undiscovered niches are disregarded as I’m simply concerned with getting from A to B. The best commute I’ve had to school thus far is the day I walked. I saw everything. From a park that I never knew existed to a patch of vomit on the sidewalk. Who wants to ride public transit during rush hour, anyway? There’s always that woman who spills her coffee on someone, that guys who nonchalantly farts then exits at the next stop, and that music school kid who hits you with his cello case every time the train slows down. I think I’d appreciate my surroundings more if I took time to get acquainted with them.

5. Putting myself down.

Self-deprecation can be pretty funny, don’t get me wrong, especially when it’s something so true to human nature that it hurts, but there’s a distinct difference between a good, hearty self-criticizing jab and just being so plain hateful to yourself that people are uncomfortable. Thankfully, I reserve putting myself down for when I’m alone, usually while I immerse myself in a whole pint of ice cream and eat an entire pizza, while I neglect to do any work and cry my make up all over my face, then put myself down for being a lonely, fat, unmotivated, ugly crier. Oh, what a wicked web I weave. I don’t know what it is about being a woman, but I feel like it’s ingrained in me to never be allowed to be fully satisfied with myself. That’s wrong, y’all. I have done incredible things—things I should be proud of, things that signify a personal goal I’ve met, or things that just make me think, woah, I did that? Everyone has those accomplishments. It’s putting them before the put downs that make life a little sweeter.*
*Here, I originally wrote, “oh, God, that’s disgusting, why am I being such a sap,” but then realized I’m not allowed to put myself down anymore. Baby steps.

6. Comparing myself.

Let’s take a little self-assessment here. How many times in the past week have I said or thought any of the following: “she’s so much prettier,” “she’s so much skinnier,” “she’s so much funnier,” “she’s so much smarter,” “she’s so much (INSERT ANY SUPERLATIVE HERE).” I swear, most of the time, I’m most own worst enemy simply because I waste my time wishing I were more like someone else. Why? Why can’t I just accept how awesome I am on my own personal scale? Comparatively, how do I add up to who I was yesterday? A year ago? Four years ago (Lord, don’t make me go back there…)?Additionally, who gives a fuck if someone is skinnier or prettier? Does that amount to worth in the grand scheme of things? Someone may have her shit together more than I do, but maybe she’s not as creative or open-minded or spontaneous or animated or excitable as I am. All things being relative, good traits and bad traits should all be weighted the same and viewed through different lenses. One man’s disorganized, scattered, quirky, emotional, candid, and sharply witty trash may be another man’s treasure.

7. Thinking that success comes without hard work.

From a young age, we are all taught that we will be successful solely because we are unique and special, and that the Success Fairy will just wave her magic wand, and we’ll all be wiping our asses with 100% silk toilet paper made from authentic Philippine silkworms and eating crepes filled with raspberry sauce and gold while we’re surrounded by all of those who are mere peons to our grandeur and will get no silken comfort and no golden crepes. First of all, if that description actually appealed to you as the vision of success, go talk to someone. May I suggest a therapist? Second, we need to get over this idea that just because we’re “special” and “unique” according to our parents and teachers and guidance counselors who hammered it into us, those are not applicable skills you can put on a resume. Unless you’re applying for some job at a vegan supermarket, then by all means, forge ahead. Hard work is directly correlated with success, and the idea that real goals come easily is almost as dumb of an idea as the existence of a Success Fairy. I know this is something I struggle with, being an I-want-it-now, no-patience-for-the-pay-off kind of gal, but realizing that giving up and halting the hard work will only halt the gain is the first step.

8. Complaining about graduate school.

Okay, I know, this is going to be a challenge. Almost everything that comes out of my mouth, usually via Facebook status, is “insert awful rant laden with profanities about how much I hate graduate school and how no one should ever go because it makes you haggard and depressed and fat.” Yes, I know, I go way over my quota of bitchy, whiny, feel-sorry-for-me-because-grad-school-is-hard Facebook statuses. At least I’m not blowing up your feed with “lOoK @ mUh eNGaGeMENt RiiiNg! cAn’T wAIT to MuRry muH BoO0o0oOo0O” or obnoxious baby pictures with captions like, “little Henry tooted on Mommy today!” I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop. I mean, honestly Jessica (scolding myself in third person makes me take myself more seriously), it was your choice to attend graduate school, and a pretty badass choice at that. Do you even realize how many wee babes dream of going to graduate school but can’t, due to poor grades, lack of funds, and other factors? Count your blessings, hun. Oh, you have student loans? Boo hoo. You are going to graduate with a diploma from the 8th ranked college of communication in this great nation with your name on it that signifies to employers that you had what it takes to get through a grueling curriculum and come out virtually unscathed (maybe just with bigger bags under your eyes and a few extra pounds). And you’re going to complain about that? Some people don’t have shoes, Jessica. Stop your bitching.

9. Saying I don’t have time.

Go out to dinner? Sorry, I don’t have the time. Watch a movie? I don’t have the time. Gym? I don’t have time. Make breakfast? Don’t have time. Shower? No time. Brush my teeth? No. From this, you can deduce that I have become an antisocial fat slob who needs a breath mint. Which is what I feel like 95% of the time (the other 5%, I don’t have time to feel anything). I’m sure if I actually sat down and mapped out my week, I WOULD have time. My issue: I won’t MAKE time to actually sit down and gerrymander my time accordingly to appease all parties involved (the constituents of Sanity usually get short-changed). I know that there is enough time for school, work, homework, and socializing. I’m not the first scatterbrain to attend graduate school and hold two jobs and a social life. Maybe if I stopped running around like I’m trying to fit my head through a turtleneck hole (just visualize the struggle for a second), I could appropriate hefty amounts of time to places that are lacking (like homework and personal hygiene, usually). If I made time to write this, I’m positive I have time for things of higher importance.

10. Taking the smallest, seemingly insignificant moments for granted.

I am constantly going at 100 miles per hour (as my Myers-Briggs assessment recently confirmed), and I rarely stop to slow down and take in what’s actually going on around me. Scratch that—I never stop and slow down to take in what’s going on around me. Why? Refer back to #2. What’s everything worth if I don’t make the time to see it for what it is? Whether it’s a small hand squeeze from a main squeeze or the best hug from a best friend, it matters. Every tiny thing matters. Those 9 extra minutes I get when I hit the snooze button (I still don’t understand why Apple programs iPhone snooze to a preset of 9 minutes, but hey, it’s better than the typical 5, so I ain’t mad at it) are 9 extra minutes that I should be thankful for. And those 5-15 minutes I spend waiting for the train (yes, 5-15, the green line is that unreliable) are 5-15 extra minutes that I get to be inside my own head and think of all the wonderful things that I can do with my day. Where do you think I had the idea to come up with this blog? It’s the little things. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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