I didn’t, at any juncture of my life, consider that I could become one of those fundamentally sad people who stop doing things they like because they claim to “have no time” for anything besides work. It never struck me that I could ever have the character traits to fall into that unfortunate category.
I should clarify that his dismissive belief was not because of an absence of accountability or lack of focus on my part. No, I’ve always been ambitious in my own abstract ways and I pursue personal goals quite sincerely.
It was actually because of a glaring blind spot in my personal concepts: I managed, somehow, to avoid learning the word “priority” altogether and never comprehended its real world implications in all the time I spent on this planet. It is quite amusing to observe how I failed so completely at developing something that comes so naturally to most.
The problem that arises out of this ignorance is quite simple: I don’t have the clarity to distinguish more important matters from less important ones. And this, irrespective of its roots, is troublesome.
So I am here to think.
I am inclined to believe that this is partly because I have never not done whatever I have really wanted to do, whenever I’ve wanted to do it (I realize my privilege in that) and things have somehow always worked out in the end for me. I have grown up to be quite the closet optimist because of this. While I routinely enjoy pessimistic jargon and nihilistic contemplations much more than traditional romantic notions, there is always a stubborn part of me that intuitively hopes for the best simply because I, on a personal level, have led an oddly charmed life. Contrary to what I intellectually conclude, I can always reassure myself about the future, and when I try my best to hate the universe, my own good fortune begs to differ.
Because of this easy existence, I have felt a very strongly founded sense of security and comfort in my conception of everything that’s possible for me (given the proof of history), and I have thus subsequently developed the tendency to be dumbfoundingly reckless and destructive in the face of responsibilities.
To illustrate, let’s just say that if I had an important submission in two days, but I felt like obsessing over an obscure fictional character on Tumblr instead, I would most likely do the latter for as long as I could, regardless of the impending consequences.
I mean I would eventually come around to finishing my work before the deadline on my own, but that’s only because I grew up in a family that taught me how incomplete things are barely a concept and of course I have to finish what I start because there are no conceivable alternatives to that proposition.
Clearly, my childhood was not one with too many options- great things were expected of me at all times and I refused to disappoint when it came to tangible results. This means, by extension, that when I avoided doing things for too long, they started following me around like dark clouds until I relented.
But even then, I say as I salute my own pigheadedness, I always did either everything or nothing at all. When I left chapters before exams, I didn’t even skim through them, and when I decided to write stories, I wrote all of them in one go. There was no in-between, and there was no character constancy in my person. I abandoned everything that I lost interest in without the slightest hesitation. Bearing evidence to the power of nurture, I never lost this perplexing element of my personality.
As a pampered kid, I was a creature of pure instinct. I was a brat with curiosity and vitality and a million distractions. I was too many things at once, and since stages of life are not mutually distinctive, my past very sneakily trickled into my present and became an essential determinant of the current me -it translated into me growing up to be a chronic procrastinator with unjustifiably high personal expectations and a subjective reality that revolved primarily around avoidant tendencies and hedonistic principles.
I did not become a person who was bold, intense and impulsive, as one would expect- I just got consistently worse at prioritizing and became more contradictory with the years.
But even as this obviously flawed style of thinking made me a lot more stubborn and confused and unequipped in the following years of intense decision making and moving on, I am still grateful to have had the chance to inculcate it. Given all the stated shortcomings, it is also the primary reason I never lost my interests when the world around me struggled to pick up books again and forgot what feeling stories was like. I clung on with a death grip to everything I held dear, even though my circumstances became more complex and demanding.
While it’s true that I now possess a brain with the most scattered sort of cognition and a spectrum of preoccupations that make no coherent sense in the same person, it’s also true that I can make time for myself even when there is none. I do very stupid things, but somehow they always feel worth it. Amidst all the thinking and ageing, I realize that I developed a perseverance for things that make me feel alive and happy and fascinated. And, because I never understood how to sort things that “matter” from things that don’t, I never even considered letting some of those things go for the sake of other “more important” ones.
I make no claims of being a well-settled person, but I can say with assurance that I have always been a happy one. I have never had to actually deal with the repercussions of my own ignorance.
Lately, though, I can feel myself slipping. Defects only become visible when crises come knocking, and right now, I am noticing all of my chronic problems for the first time.
Defects only become visible when crises come knocking, and right now, I am noticing all of my chronic problems for the first time.
In the recent past, I have managed to create too many obligations for myself without actually establishing a sense of commitment to any of them, and this has predictably led to a state of permanent frustration. I take on activities that seem invigorating and carry the promise of fun, but I always forget to take into account my own pleasure-seeking habits and then regret all the uncharacteristic initiative I unthinkingly display at times.
I don’t understand how to make things work when they don’t organically.
How do you devote yourself to a bigger cause when you would always rather stay in and watch movies? How do you begin to care when you are always distracted? How do you work when there are so many cute Korean boys in this world?
And I only have stupid answers.
Looks like we have caught ourselves another one of those depressing dichotomies that haunt all ideologies: Like everything beautiful in this world, this too has an equally repulsive flip side. While my lack of prioritising makes me more vibrant and happy, it also gives me fatal flaws. All good is a little bad, so my inquisitiveness is selfish, my convictions are transitory, my attitudes are flighty, and my commitments are unreliable.
It turns out that it’s important to be your own person, but (and this is where I fall hideously short) it’s also as important to belong to the real world and instil a sense of duty toward other people (because they exist too, contrary to your own egocentric beliefs).
Moral of the story: I am perfectly incompetent at time management and organization and team work. And I still want, above wanting to get bette, to watch more tv and read more novels.