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The Art Of Doing Nothing

By thinking critically about how hustle culture and capitalism have spoiled our ability to properly relax, Timothee Luong contemplates the wretched guilt of procrastination, the anxiety of not being busy, and the great fear of wasting time. 


In a world that continuously runs like clockwork, it can feel overwhelming to be doing nothing. 


Forever stuck in a whirlwind of guilt and self-blame for your lack of “discipline.” The race is halfway through but you've barely even started to lift your feet off the ground. 


I know this feeling better than anyone else, being in the final year of my degree as an international student. “There’s not much time left for you,” is a sentence I constantly hear from everyone around me. 


It rings in my ear like tinnitus, always looming behind my back – an impending doom about to knock on my door at any second. 


The sound of it echoes in the chamber of my head so glaringly that I’ve skipped meals, showered late, and both under and overslept for weeks with buzzing anxiety. I’ve tried to “medicate” myself with caffeine and stacked loads of any kind of work I could get my hands on. 


With myself having balanced full-time uni, three student societies (one as the president), a job and an internship, many have asked about my motivation with awe and admiration. 


Time was my motivator – I was scared of wasting time having to go through all the desperation and anxiety of adult life, which at least for the first five years of my twenties, will revolve exclusively around job seeking and finding a partner. I always thought I’d rather save time now.  


Now it’s almost impossible for me to just relax and do nothing. The adrenaline of my anxiety turns my brain up at full speed like an F1 race car every night. 


Now, more than ever, I wish I could do nothing. I wish I had the energy to sit down and channel my thoughts, freshen up my thoughts. 


Hustle culture plagued our generation, myself included, into thinking that doing nothing is unproductive. Simultaneously, capitalism sells us the idea of relaxation as a reward for our hard work – an afterthought, to be precise. 


The state of being active has been ingrained so much in our brains that we have such things as sleep trackers and sleep journals to watch how long we rest for, yoga and meditation classes as special places to slow down and channel our thoughts, lattes and croissants reserved exclusively for when we feel like “treating” ourselves after hard work…


When in reality, all we need is some time to rest. To have proper sleep. To spend time around friends and family. To take a closer look at our surroundings. To appreciate our current life a bit more. 

 

It’s true that working a job and looking for a partner are useful things to do with your time. But ultimately, don’t we do these things in hopes of making our lives more enjoyable (rather than miserable)?


Take for example, I’ve spent five years in Sydney, but I probably couldn’t tell you more than a handful of facts about Sydney, compared to my friends who’ve only been here for half a year. If I was asked on the spot, “what’s the best thing about living here?” I’d probably stutter. The reality is, I’ve rarely ever stepped outside of uni, work, home and Woolies because of my packed schedule. 


It takes practise to get used to doing nothing. It’s an art, really – you have to work on bits and pieces of it frequently enough to reach mastery. And the first step towards mastering the art of doing nothing takes courage because you’ll have to make sacrifices in terms of unrealistic expectations and pride.  


I’m just taking baby steps now, yet it already seems so much better on this side. Not always having a full plate makes it easier to chew, taste and taste every food on the table. And I’m only just starting to indulge in my beautiful life on Earth.



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