Shamelessly Wasting Time
Come with me, you who make so bold as to read my ramblings, from the shallows wading pools to the deeper waters. Day 4 of 30 Days of Shamelessness challenges us to “waste time.” First I thought about all the things I could list that I do that count as time wasting. There are plenty. Then I thought about getting into the philosophical nature of wasting time. Can you really waste it? Aren’t you always spending it on something? If you get any value at all, is it wasted? I thought of the times that I did something that really did, afterwards, feel wasted – like mopping the floor to promptly spill something on it – but still that wasn’t where I wanted to go. None of that was tapping into the real challenge: airing out our mental closet to loose the sources of shame and embarrassment that bind us.
So. I put this post off for a while. Not sure I was ready to be public about the concept that was forming in my mind. But the truth will out, and it is this: I feel tremendous guilt when I do anything I perceive as wasting time. It doesn’t matter to me if others might see it as wasting time or not – I judge myself only on my own personal scale. If something is accomplished, produced, fixed, cleaned, or resolved I feel like I am a valuable and worthwhile person. Just hanging out, or spending time with other people, is ok (read: no guilt) because I am a social girl and I love my friends and I want to be a good friend to them. However, the things that have no outcome, no purpose save for my enjoyment alone I often berate myself for.
Oh, and I am specific in my criticism. Say I read a book that is educational, intellectual or uplifting, then all is well because I have improved my character or mind. But if I read a book purely for the sake of enjoyment, I feel a twinge of guilt when I look back on the time because I could have been getting something done! Nevermind that I love to read and that it gives me a sense of peace and joy. That alone couldn’t be a worthy purpose! There is nothing to measure, nothing to cross off, nothing to show to anyone else and say “see? I am a success!” I happen to love the game “The Sims.” Nothing gives me more guilt than playing that game. Because I feel like such a loser that I am playing a game to improve or advance the lives of gigabits, instead of doing something in the “real world.” Such judgement! Am I too not allowed to just “have fun?” Can fun, simple entertainment, even mindless enjoyment, not be a gift I bestow upon myself?
It has taken me a long time to realize that I am this way. That if I do something that doesn’t get a check mark on my list, or have the potential to earn me a pat on the head, I feel as though I am failing at being a productive member of society. Which generally gets around to me feeling like I am, in fact, A Failure. I am working now at redefining my sense of self as a person that Is, who can simply be worthy because she Exists, Loves, Dreams, Thinks – and not only because she Produces and Accomplishes. So I am going to be a bit rebellious to myself today and do something purely for my own private enjoyment and refuse to accept any feelings of shame and guilt that will rise. I will tell those feelings to STEP BACK and let me just Be.