Reallocating time and brain space
Ever since I was old enough to read on my own, I was the biggest, baddest bookworm. I churned through as many books as I could get my hands on including those that my older siblings brought home from school and fat stacks I would check out from the library. My brother, Alan, was convinced that I skipped pages. I loved reading about lives that were so different than my own and places that I had never been. The books that I read taught me to be more creative and empathetic. My first real thought of what I wanted to be when I grew up was to be an author. I wanted to write so well that it would change people’s lives.
One of the things I did most often during activity time in second grade was write books. These unfinished books made of blank computer paper and staples were usually about a girl who walked around town with her pet brontosaurus. I loved drawing this funny little brontosaurus who was green with a red leash. There was no real story, I was brave enough to make it up as I went.
Shortly after that I got a bit more advanced and wrote my first full story with a beginning, middle and end on our family’s first Mac computer. This one was about a kid who was terrified of bed bugs because his parents would tuck him in and say, “Good night, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” He was unable to sleep until he ends up meeting two friendly bed bugs named Bedda and Bugga who show him there’s nothing to be afraid of while you’re sleeping. I never got around to illustrating that one but I pictured Bedda and Bugga as two round, friendly little fellas that looked a lot like the Willy Wonka Nerds mascot. As silly as it was, that was my first attempt at writing something that I thought would have a positive influence on whoever my reader would be.
As I got older the way I thought I’d be able to make a positive impact on the world changed a lot. My career aspirations changed from writer to psychologist to fashion designer to occupational therapist to pediatrician to social entrepreneur by the time I left college. I got more specific, and focused on having a plan, which is a good thing, but I think with that I became a lot more cautious about what was “realistic”.
Currently I am happy learning and doing a lot as a Product Manager at a growing company, but realizing that I am getting too used to being stressed out by day to day tasks. Other than working out, I’ve categorized creative activities as luxuries that my schedule can’t usually afford. Recently I got tired of being tired and got to thinking about how much time and energy I spend on work, if it’s is yielding the impact I want it to, and what I should do about it.
I haven’t thought about writing in a long time, but I have started reading a lot again to relax after work and also to get some guidance with my career. I’ve been reminded of how much a piece of writing can make such a big impact especially if you’re coming across it at the right time. There have been a lot of good (and sometimes even mediocre) pieces of writing that have helped me to gain a new perspective, or even just brought something back to the surface that I’ve already known but needed to be reminded of. For example, I just went through 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and really connected with it. One of the points that Ferriss makes is that many people think they need to work really hard now for a payoff of being able to enjoy life later, but why not live the way you want to everyday? This point really stuck with me. What am I working so hard for and why am I waiting?
There are so many things I planned to do later — volunteering, creative projects, trips. Working hard was always the top priority and I had little brain space leftover for anything other than a workout and wasting my time shopping online (and then never checking out anyway!). I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the day to day “reality” of working that I’ve lost the focus and audacity of a younger me who wanted to do world-changing things and enjoying life every day.
I’ve got a fresh perspective on my precious time and I am thinking about how I want to spend it differently. As I’m reallocating my time and brainspace, I’ve decided to resurface a childhood goal and start writing. This time I’m committing to sharing it. Thankfully the internet and Medium have made it easier for me to become a “published” writer! I’m rusty from writing little more than JIRA tickets, emails and scribbles in random notebooks over the past couple of years, but I decided this is a good way to stretch myself.
I’m looking to writing to help me reflect on the things I do choose to spend my time on and hopefully change the world a bit by putting it out there. I hope that my writing will move you to think about things with a new perspective or resurface something you’ve been wanting to act on. And maybe soon I’ll even reintroduce stories of the pet brontosaurus and bed bug friends.
Thank you in advance for spending some of your time consuming this. I hope to read some responses and reactions that I can learn from.