BY: ADRIAN SMITH
The Passenger had been on my list of movies to watch for some time. “Jack Nicholson’s in it,” people said, so I figured I’d watch it. I love that dude, plus I’m always up late anyways. As I sat there waiting for my movie to download, I started feeling guilty for not spending my time doing something more productive. I could always be more productive. I could be reading or browsing for new ideas. I could be working on my writing. I could be going over lecture notes. I still haven’t gotten any books for class yet. I could be thinking of more print ads for my portfolio—anything. But I should be doing something productive, I thought.
Being in your early 20s, I find we always put pressure on ourselves to succeed right away, and in the process forget there’s still a lot of time for our ideas and ambitions to fall into place. As a writer, I’m always looking towards authors I respect as measuring sticks for my own success. I take note of what they’ve accomplished at a specific age, and then bully myself into thinking I should have something equally as excellent to show for myself by that time or even earlier. I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to match, and ultimately surpass, these figures I look up to. We all have influences we compare our body of work with, and aspire to be like one day if we work hard enough.
The problem with that is we attach a stressful sense of urgency to our work. We hurry ourselves to realize our goals at an unnatural pace, instead of working towards them at our own individual speed. Although it’s admirable to want to work relentlessly, there’s no reason to place pressure on yourself to be better faster. We need to stop rushing into success, spending every moment worried about what we could be doing to improve and instead just do something for nothing’s sake.
Reading a book for fun and having some new ideas about issues irrelevant to your work won’t ruin you. Binge watching a new TV series instead of doing extra research won’t impede your progress. A lazy mid-afternoon nap won’t put you behind the curve. We need to remember to take it easy. There’s enough time to do great things without holding yourself to unreasonable standards. It’s easy advice to forget because there’s so much we want to accomplish while we’re in our peak years, but you can’t criticize or taunt yourself into working too hard or too much. That’s not effective for long, or very healthy. You can’t decide to move at a pace unfamiliar or uncomfortable in order to meet your mind’s idea of accomplishment. There’s no ticking clock on your potential, which means there’s no reason to hurry into something you’re not ready for or capable of yet. If you simply continue doing what you love to do, with passion, and at your own pace, you’ll be just fine.