I told my therapist a list of things I want to do the other day. The list included writing more, trying to get published, fixing a medical issue once and for all, and organizing a Creative Writing class reunion.
She said that I was repeating myself. I had told her that I wanted to do these things last week, the week before, and the week before. Why don’t I just put in effort to get them done?
I gave her the easy answer. Duh, it’s because I’m lazy.
She called bullshit (I’m paraphrasing), saying that it can’t just be laziness that’s stopping me from doing these things. So I reasoned with her: I don’t just feel lazy. I’m genetically lazy. I’ve observed laziness in both of my parents. My mom says she’s lonely and doesn’t like staying home and taking care of my sister all day. But she also just doesn’t feel like reaching out to friends or hiring a babysitter to look after my sister while she’s out of the house. She says it’s too much effort. My dad, on the other hand, has acknowledged that he has an unhealthy addiction to smoking cigarettes. But after all these years, he’d rather keep at his addiction than try to stop.
Of course, I only said I was genetically lazy as a joke, as a way to excuse my lack of motivation and to also divert my therapist’s attention to my parents’ problems instead of my own. But I see laziness in my friends too. They have dreams like starting their own businesses, quitting their jobs, finding new hobbies, etc. But they also sigh that they struggle to even get started. And it is a struggle. All these dreams entail multiple obstacles. But it’s also kind of strange–how we all have goals, places we want to be, but most of us don’t want to go through the motions of getting there. We just want a successful business, a new position at an amazing job, a new hobby we’re naturally great at. We just want to be there at the finishing line already.
A lot of us find ourselves in this “lazy” state of mind and being at times, yet even when I tried to explain to my therapist that I was too lazy to do the things I wanted to do, she said that it still didn’t make sense. She said sure, it’s normal to feel lazy about things you don’t care about. To feel lazy because it’s a particularly hot day. To feel lazy temporarily. But how could I be lazy about something that I do care about for weeks, months, years? Don’t I want to put in effort to be happy? Looking back on this conversation, I can see where she’s coming from.
Some of us give the excuse that we feel or just are “lazy” sometimes, but “lazy” is a strange word. “Lazy” implies lack of energy and indifference. If we brush off a task, saying we’re too lazy to do it, it sounds as if we don’t care to. But when it comes to our happiness, that can’t be true. And it isn’t true. It’s not that we are too tired or we don’t care enough that we don’t want to work towards our goals. It’s something else.
In my case, I realized that I was using “lazy” as a euphemism for how I really felt–scared and uncomfortable. I’m scared that if I try to write and get published, I will ultimately fail, I will get rejected, over and over again, and I will have to confront some kind of reality that I’m actually not meant to write after all. I’m scared of dealing with my medical issue because I worry that no matter how much money I spend to see a doctor about it, it’s not going to get resolved, and I’m going to have to live with the consequences of what that means. I’m scared of organizing a class reunion because I’m worried that my former classmates will find it weird that I care so much about our past time together, and ultimately reject me. I’m scared that if I put effort into any of these goals, it will be a waste of time and I will only feel disappointed and embarrassed in the end.
Some of us say we feel “lazy” as a way to undermine our problem–to suggest that it’s not a big deal and that we totally could handle it, but we choose not to because we just don’t feel like it. But saying we feel “lazy” grossly misrepresents the serious issues we might be going through. My issues are not that grave, in my opinion, but my parents, for example, say they’re lazy so they don’t have to face their loneliness or their addictions head on. Saying that we’re “lazy” allows us to feel like we can live with our problems, instead of trying to solve them.
That said, now that I have identified what I really mean when I say that I’m “lazy,” I can’t say that I will definitely work harder to reach my goals now. I’m still not comfortable with committing myself to getting them done. But here’s my forced, half-assed promise to myself: I can try?
Last week, I was able to organize the Creative Writing reunion after all. I realized that I was being silly–even if my classmates thought it was weird that I was reaching out to them, it didn’t really matter. I’m no longer in high school anymore; who cares if people gossip about me or think bad things about me? If I really want this meet up to happen, then I should at least give it a try before deciding it can’t.
My bigger fears regarding writing and my medical issue (which, by the way, saying it in these ambiguous terms makes it sound way more serious than it actually is) will be harder to face.
For now, I’m trying to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to write. I find that when I time myself, I’m better able to force myself to write, and I spend less time worrying that my writing reads poorly. I don’t have a specific goal yet for publication, but if I can make writing more of a daily routine, maybe I can get more into publishing someday soon.
I can’t say much about my medical issue (again, not that serious). If you’re a friend reading this, though, don’t ask me or talk to me about it please! I’m not trying to ignore the problem, but I think I still need time to approach it and resolve it. It’s definitely something I need to go through on my own (with my therapist). It’s an issue that will take me a while to make progress on, but I guess, at least I’m not hiding behind lame excuses like “laziness” anymore.