Don’t forget the value of choosing to do nothing

Sometimes it’s important to remember just to relax. It is hard to do so when I’m bombarded on all sides by a relentless social media machine where everyone is having fun. Among that pressure to appear fun and busy I often forget the joy of doing nothing. But there’s more to life than essays and writing and social media; to be honest, there is a lot of joy to be found in letting things go.

The hecticness of exams, essays, lectures, assignments, and everything else we fill our lives with brings entertainment or, at least, something to fill the hours… but it doesn’t reflect reality. It can be a burden in more ways than expected, too, as I often find myself sitting in my ‘off time’ feeling guilty about not reading a book, or working on some part of the mountain of assignments constantly due.

Take even my role as a columnist, for example. So often I feel that it’s my role to express myself and to entertain with my writing. I try to use this to share a joke, or to deal with what I feel is some prominent issue. I really enjoy having this space, but I often feel I can let it take over my mind as I try to decide what the right way to express myself is.

Taking some space from it all and permitting yourself the time to deal with life as it comes is very freeing

That’s not to say that life should be dull or boring. In fact, those quiet spaces in between, when I can quiet the noise of a demanding world, are where I truly learn to know myself, away from the noise. The quiet, enjoyable monotony of doing nothing has grown on me. It might sound crazy, but as we head out of exams, it’s good to take time to do nothing and not to feel guilty about it.

It feels funny to say this against the backdrop of enforced nothingness that was Covid-19 lockdowns, but don’t forget the value of choosing to do nothing and giving yourself a break. Taking some space from it all and permitting yourself the time to deal with life as it comes is very freeing. Even if it’s just for an hour.

In the next few days, I’m going to do myself a favour and allow myself a little bit of time to be free. Not to mindlessly scroll through social media, or to study, or to send out another job application, or to find another stick to beat myself with.

Just to be free for a moment.

NIALL TORRIS

1 COMMENT

  1. 100%, amen. As for the ‘enforced nothingness’ from the lockdowns, I personally experienced a lot of frustration with the feeling of nothingness while I was still trying to be productive in every sense of the word. It was not a nothingness at all, when I really think about it. Not to mention that flex working gained a whole new meaning during this period. I think the worst part was that there was so much time ‘freed’ up, but so little choice as to what to do with it.
    Lately, what I find oddly empowering is that amidst everything I may have to do at the moment, thinking of all the possible choices (some responsibilities, some not so much), I sometimes just choose to not do anything at all. When I accept that the guilt and exhaustion will not bring me anything, the ease with which that decision to do nothing is made is a breath of fresh air from not knowing what to possibly start with crossing off some kind of never-ending list.

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