Life Sometimes Requires You To Do Nothing

A large part of my day is “given” to other people.

My version of adulthood includes responsibilities that dictate what happens and when it’s going to happen. My mind is often fatigued as soon as I wake up because of what lies ahead. Each day I leave for work, my goal is to hurry back home for some “me” time.

I wear a number of different hats on a moment-to-moment basis: podcaster, employee, writer, son, brother, nephew, boyfriend, student, and the list goes on.

Some days, all of these things work in harmony and I fulfill duties with the grace of Misty Copeland, tiptoeing through the minefield of other people’s problems while taking gigantic leaps over my own. Other days I’m more like Atlas, the titan who, according to Greek mythology, carries the world on his shoulders.

“Employee” is the most grating of all these titles but allows me the freedom to pursue other passions. Bomani Jones, quoted loosely from his Ted Talk, said the fastest way to do what you want is to handle your business. My consistent work attendance is tailored to that logic.

There’s no podcast, writing, video games, or anything that brings joy to my life if I don’t “secure the bag.” But, the act of securing the bag can be irksome. There’s a dullness to the repetition of preparing to go to work: a dullness I could’ve never imagined as a teenager when I desperately wished to be an adult.

Work frequently leaves me too exhausted to manage the other functions of my life. Functions which can only be completed AFTER work.

Unfortunately, I’m usually not in the mood to do anything once I’ve left the plantation, so, even though I’m batting a high percentage in the game of being adult I’m not particularly delighted about it.

I try to spice my life with extracurricular activities to season away the blandness of my work-centered existence. Oddly enough, adding “fun” things to do can quickly feel like another responsibility.

For example, I’m a podcaster at NWAP and we record almost every Tuesday. It’s something I enjoy because my chances for great conversation in other avenues of my life are lower than the sales of Troy Ave’s last album.

We’ve published over 100 episodes since 2014. I’m floored by the continued support we receive from our fans. It’s incredible to know we have an active fan base and their feedback is one of the most rewarding parts of the experience.

But, I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t admit I’m occasionally thrilled for a conflict that delays our recording schedule. No recording means two hours I would’ve spent creating the show is two hours I can now spend doing something else, or nothing at all.

The relief in not having to do the show mirrors the sensation women feel when taking off their bra after work. And that sentiment isn’t limited to the show itself, but to anything I do which requires (that’s the key word) my attendance.

I was, for a time, confounded by this feeling. I once surmised doing things I enjoyed would eliminate the distress of ceding seven to ten hours a day to my job. I was shocked to find even the things I take pleasure in can feel like a nine to five.

This is why I love doing “nothing.” Nothing, in this context, means actions free from responsibility. It includes activities such as: aimlessly tweeting while half-watching television; playing video games to block out all of life’s problems; or listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA,” on repeat, at levels loud enough to blow the wig off your favorite Instagram honey.

For some, doing nothing isn’t an option. Our society says if we’re not progressing toward a goal, improving ourselves in some way, or increasing happiness in someone else, we’re wasting time. The thought of doing nothing, for most of us, is terrifying.

I never want to be one of those people. Each time I leave my house, I look forward to coming back to do nothing. That, is peak adulting. My next goal though?

Try to get to a space where doing nothing isn’t so damned necessary.

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