Waste is a matter of perspective, of course. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. But what about wasting things like time, effort, energy, focus, emotions? When we spend too much of these and end up tired and with nothing, really, to show for it; it would seem as if we threw a part of our life in the trash.
I’ve spent a whole decade of energy on something that I thought would take me to a place I wanted. However, although it was hard to face this, I had to admit to myself, I am not there – I am “light years away from where I want to be“. Or so I thought – life still has to show if I was right or not. But, at that moment, I knew I had to close shop, start over, focus on something else, and admit that despite my efforts, I couldn’t achieve my goal. What a desperate moment! The pain, the disappointment, the regret!
But we cannot live in regret – we have one life, one time, the least we can do is convert the experience into a lesson. So here are the things I learned from “wasting my time” in my twenties.
No Time is Wasted
I’ll try not to be too “spiritual” about this. We cannot regret actions we made in the past. All we can worry about is what we do in the moment. I know that all the steps and choices I made in my life seemed right at the moment. The fact that “if I hadn’t done that” might have taken me somewhere else, and I could be this or that, here or there, is irrelevant. I could just as well be a cat, or dead. But I am here. I learned things I wouldn’t have otherwise, I had experiences that are unique to me, and that will and surely have already paid off in situations I might not even be aware of.
People are Shitheads – Deal with it – Move on
We would like to think all people are good at heart. And it is true, we are essentially loving beings, looking for the same things. But in our automatic and collective actions, we are just an adolescent, or pre-adolescent civilization, who doesn’t want to accept responsibility for any wrong-doings, and is refusing to face facts if they:
a) point at our faults;
b) mean that we need to stop doing what we are used to doing, and make an effort to change.
We are just children, and not many of us will grow up to be responsible living beings on this planet before we die. We cannot obsess over this, however much it may hurt to see all the stupid things we do as a collective, and as individuals.
We are all Just People
As an extension to my previous point, however, I had to realize, we are all just people. Yes that means I’m an asshole, too, but it also means I am not worse than anyone.
When you are young and the majority of humanity is older than you, you can be deceived into thinking some people are by birth more special than others. That status, talent, money, etc is something that only comes to the chosen ones, and that there are people who are just unfortunate and cannot progress. Getting older you realize, it is just as much a matter of choice and effort, as it is partially luck. But not all luck. Beyonce might be the ultimate pop-diva, but she’s also been rehearsing constantly since she was a child – to be the singer and dancer she is. If you want to be great at something, you have to do it 24/7. Nothing happens without effort, and no one is better or worse than you – be kind, and be proud.
You Always Need to have a Vision
I’ve seen many people around me just drift through the years and basically never become anything: they are living vicariously through others’ lives, being supported by their parents in the middle of their thirties, surviving, but not really living their own lives.
What got me to the point in my life where I could see my initial plan hasn’t worked out was just that – having a plan! If I hadn’t, I would probably just remain in the place where life drifted me and fantasize about a life I could have if…if…
I am grateful for the vision I had, because it was so strong, it made me persevere through hard adversities.
It is like being lost in a forest. If you just wander around, looking for berries, you will survive, but you will probably never get out of the forest – just keep going around in the circle you know and eventually you may even run out of berries to eat. But if you choose a direction, you will surely get somewhere – whether it is out of the forest, or to a lake that will make you change direction, it doesn’t matter. But you will get somewhere in the end. And you can still keep eating berries on your way.
We Need Pressure to Achieve Great Results
I am lazy. Why beat around the bush, I am. I like to ‘waste my time’, I enjoy it. “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time“. So there goes the point of this whole lengthy article – just enjoy life, and no minute shall be wasted. Ha – ha – ha…
Well, we just aren’t that lucky – if we could just decide to enjoy every moment, we wouldn’t need all the spiritual guidance, religions, drugs and so forth to help us get through it all.
But I digress. So, I am lazy, but I am also hard-working. I just need that push, that urgency that will make me turn into the robot I truly am, and get shit done. Both in my work and my private life. And I am not unique in this, our whole civilization operates like this.
However, what I learned from this is: either I create a constant state of urgency and be a robot all the time (which always makes me burn-out and leads to days of depression and illness), or I just accept my laziness without letting it overtake my whole existence. And when I notice I am getting out of hand, I create pressure – and pressure, in turn, creates me.
We All Have the Potential
When faced with failure, especially a life-sized one, my self-worth diminishes instantly. My confidence is not very high anyway, but seeing my life in ruins while others seem to be swimming easily can push me into a pit of self-hate and self-abuse. I tend to think I am too scattered, I don’t have that one special thing I do best, I don’t know what my purpose is in this world, I haven’t found myself, and all the other bullshit. It is bullshit, but it still happens to me constantly.
Then I read something about personality types, and realized I have the natural ability to be a leader, not of nations, but of small groups that need someone to keep things in check and move along. I had to realize this is the one thing I don’t have to make an effort for, but do naturally. And if I just do what I do, the situations will, naturally, adapt to the personalities within the group, and I will have a, or The, purpose. We all have our special potential – we all have our place in the world.
Plan Ahead, Think Now
This was the mantra to keep me sane when I was racking up a whole world of changes ahead of me. At times it just felt so overwhelming, so many things to take care of, solve, achieve and just get done, it really stressed me out. I was still living in my old place, planning to move to another country, trying to imagine all the steps I needed to take – large scale, small scale, tomorrow, 1 week from now, 1 month from now – aaaa! So I realized, I cannot do this to myself – I have to have a plan, but each day I should just be thinking of the tasks for that day, and not look into tomorrow’s agenda more than once, as it gets really overwhelming.
Some Things you Cannot Control
This is the worst, the hardest lesson of all. I am still suffering from this. I found that patience is the most difficult psychological exercise of all. Patience basically means, you did all you could, and now things are out of your control, and you have zero effect on how they will turn out.
At these times, the only thing I could do, was pray. And I don’t (only) mean going to church or chanting mantras and prayers. I mean imagining what I would like to happen, and hoping this mental focus is actual magic. As if it was the chemical X from the ‘powerpuff girls’; as if you needed this in order for things to turn out the way they do. But really, it doesn’t make a difference in the material world. The only thing I found it useful for is a placebo for the mind – so if things don’t turn out the way I wanted them, I cannot say “I haven’t done all I could”. I really have. I even tried praying.
But, in the end, there are things you simply cannot control.
Abuse Can Take Many Forms
This was a tough one, and it required a lot of self love to admit I was being abused. I am the type of person who forgives others much more easily than I do myself. I realized that in a relationship, physical or verbal abuse is not the only kind you can suffer. Neglect is just as hurtful. Or being in pain but not accepting help in a way abuses your partner, especially if the pain is chronic.
But your work-relationships can be abusive, too. It sounds so logical in retrospect, but when you are the employee and work hard but your effort is not appreciated, it is also a sort of abuse. And yes, these things are common sense, but I needed to learn that I shouldn’t just accept being abused. It is not OK, and I should fight for my well-treatment. And if I cannot get it, it is better to have no relationship at all than to be in an abusive one. (A side note: leaving this problem will bring on a raft of other problems you have to deal with, but at least you may choose your poison.)
Take Your Time to Process Things
And lastly, after going through all these stressful emotional and physical changes and states, it was very important to realize – it is OK to stop and just be in pain. To stop and reflect, to stop and reach out to someone for emotional and mental help. I cannot just continue after a battle as if nothing had happened. Things happened, and I need to process them, I need to lick my wounds.
Adapting to a new situation is hard, for everyone, we just like to act like it isn’t – and coincidentally make others feel like it is easy, and they are weak. No! We are all people, we are all weak, we all break down under pressure sooner or later. So why drag it out. You were running — then rest. You had a tough week — tune out, meditate. You had a tough year — take a week off and chill, reflect, cry, and then laugh. Do what you need to do.