Given my penchant for slacking and how I often self-identify as a slacker you might think that I hate this article recently published at The Guardian. You might be guessing that I’m going to criticize or mock it given my low tolerance for people with a “good” work ethic.
But rather than commenting on this article I think it would be more interesting to look through the other side of the coin. What is the slacker thinking about in their minds? I can’t speak for all slackers of course but here’s what goes on in my head.
A lot of concerns I have with my every day activities is that I’ll never start them. That’s always the most difficult part for me. It isn’t continuing the activity or getting it done once I’ve started it and fully immersed myself. Those are the easier parts of the process for me. No, my problem is starting and being scared in the back of my mind that I can’t start the task or that there’ll be some task down the line that I just can’t do. This is especially true when I am suffering from depression or have given myself a lot of expectations. Basic tasks seem like mountains that I need to work my way up to first.
So some of the time I’ll just do the most basic things I can first. This leads me to feel like I actually can do something and then I feel like I can do other stuff I like too. I don’t feel overly tied to whatever tasks I’m doing in some way that constrains me from doing other things, usually. Sometimes if things are time sensitive and I’ve already been too much of a slacker then I can’t really have the autonomy necessary to switch to another task. That’s just what happens sometimes when you have things that are more time sensitive than others. But even in such cases I can usually do some sort of “productive procrastination“. By that I mean putting off more important tasks by doing smaller and less important (but still meaningful or valuable) tasks in the meantime. That way I’m putting my procrastinator tendencies to good use.
The times that I really get into what I’m doing I don’t fear that I’ll never stop though. I know I’ll feel good after I get something important and meaningful done. For example, when I do writing and am having trouble figuring out how to structure a given post it feels good to figure it out and finally structure it so I’m satisfied. It makes me feel better about my writing abilities and better about myself as a person too. It means that I can get things that are meaningful to me done and do them to my own level of satisfaction. What could be better?
But after that initial high of accomplishment I go back to a pretty neutral feeling. I don’t feel as engaged anymore and I’d rather lounge about and watch a few videos on Youtube before I get back to my to-do list. This sometimes (though not always) restarts the process of being paralyzed by starting over. Starting over is one of my most hated things in the world. It’s a concept that’s bothered me since I was little and used to play video games a lot more. It wasn’t losing so much as the consequences of losing that I disliked. If I lost but had a checkpoint somewhere close to where I died in the game then it wasn’t any big deal. But if I had to start over? I was livid. All that work I put into it was gone!
While growing up I don’t really remember what sort of work ethic was or wasn’t driven into me. I remember a lot of the effort and time I put into my studies in school was inwardly driven instead of externally. No one really needed to threaten me with bad grades or some sort of external stick to get me to get good grades on an assignment. I’d usually feel like I needed to get good grades one way or the other. And more often than not I’d want to get a good grade. I’m not sure if it was just because I knew people expected me to or it was something else. I know that in some cases though it was definitely more because I liked the class I was in and wanted that to translate to good grades to show that I liked it.
When I end a given task or end my given tasks for the day it is my time to unwind and I don’t need anyone to tell me otherwise. When I feel satisfied with what I’ve done in a given day then I give the few hours left in my day (usually this is in the early AM) to watch some things on Netflix or play a game on my laptop. The things that happen within these hours of the day are usually more pleasure driven than other considerations.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a “career” or that I’m ever going to do much more than a part-time job. I seem to transition back and forth through having a temporary part-time to not having a formal job at all. When I don’t have the formal job at all I just end up working freelance as much as possible. And while I do that I see how long I can live on that while also making whatever arrangements I can for housing.
At the end of the day I’m not sure that I want a career. Life seems much more interesting without a designated or set route. Life just seems more open and free to me without all of the mortgages, car payments and whatever else most people seem to aspire to or just end up with. It may not be a perfect life and it may put me down some roads I’m not totally comfortable with but I know that having a career would be much worse than that for me.
Why stop now?