A few weeks ago, I had a rare free weekend. The stars had aligned, and I wasn’t planning on seeing anyone or doing anything from Friday evening to Monday morning. In fact, I’d made tentative plans for Friday night just to be social, but my Friday night started with a nap that ended at 11pm. I figured that I should probably listen to my body and my brain, so I ordered pizza. Duh.
And so began a weekend of hardcore slothing.
On Saturday, I decided to have my coffee in bed while reading a book. A real book. Not a Kindle book. When I turn to the right page, my bookmark falls out. Shit. It’s my 31 before 31 list.
Yes. I made a dumb list of 31 things that I wanted to do before I turn 31. Why? Because I secretly want to torture myself? Because I love making lists? Because I love scratching things off? I don’t know. No, I do know. Lifelong midlife crises run in my family. Well… I didn’t scratch much off my list, so I landed in a downward spiral of disappointment. Here’s what I have accomplished since turning 30:
- Get the damn tattoo
2. Finish something that I started years ago
3. Run a 10-minute mile
4. Volunteer more
5. Learn Italian
6. Start playing the piano again
7. Do something scary
8. Read more real books
9. Come out of ballet retirement
Yeah, so I only did 9 out of 31 things… and they were all pretty easy to do. So here I am, alone, and completely in my head feeling so unaccomplished. Of course I only did the easy things! I should be doing more. I’m an overachiever. I will never make the 40 Under 40 list at this rate. I decide that I need a present, so I get on Amazon, see an ad for an Amazon Echo, and buy it for no good reason at all. It had same day delivery too!
I literally spend all weekend talking to Alexa, the robot who lives in my Amazon Echo. She orders my food for me, she adds things to my shopping list, and she reminds me to pet Boogey. She also tells me what’s going on in my neighborhood and if I’m going to be delayed on the subway (the answer is always yes). Basically, instead of having human contact all weekend, I opt to talk to Alexa instead.
The funny thing is that on Monday, I wake up feeling great! I feel relaxed and focused. My weekend of avoiding human contact apparently did wonders for my mental health. I meet with my therapist, Dr. C, that afternoon. Dr. C says that I look and sound great. She tells me how well I’m doing, so I tell her about my weekend. She tells me that she’s proud of me for realizing that sometimes I need to be alone. I never really thought about it like that before. I need to be alone and do nothing sometimes. It’s good for me. We talk about how I’m an only child with Tiger Parents, and how I’m always looking to please someone or just do more in general. We talk about how I have a cat-like personality, meaning that sometimes I need to be looked after, but most times I’m fine. Dr. C asks me if I’ve been doing anything else similar to my “No Human Contact” weekend. I tell her that I’ve been spending more time on the quiet side of my office when I start to feel overwhelmed. She tells me that I’m no longer the same person she met back in November. I ask Dr. C if I’ve finally learned how to be mindful, and she says no.
Dammit, practicing mindfulness was on my list.
But, so was take better care of yourself. I scratch that one off and throw the list in the trash.