I’m the type of person who feels overwhelmed when my schedule is busy yet panics the moment that I have too much free time. Whenever I find myself coming home from work around noon with no appointments or plans for the rest of the day, I think to myself, “Oh my God, what am I going to do with all this free time! I must fill up my schedule!” and proceed to fill up my schedule. However, I recently have discovered that I’ve been so stressed out that I didn’t even know I was stressed out. I’ve been completely out of touch with my own self and have been piling layers upon layers on top of my soul with to-do lists and plans for the future. Where am I- my relaxed self? For the relaxed self is the true self; the self that exists solely in the present moment is the only true self. The self that gets ahead of herself trying to plan out each month, year of her life is only getting away from herself. The real me is buried deep in there, somewhere, underneath all the layers of anxiety and stress.
I am also an extrovert; I become lonely easily and like having other people around. I feel like it’s a sad day if I go the whole day without seeing a friend.
Thus, I have decided to do something dramatic tonight: face the existential vacuum.
In a really inspiring video on YouTube, Ralph Smart discusses our need to constantly be doing things; he says that we are afraid of this silence that awaits us, or the existential vacuum. However, he says that it clears the mind to face that vacuum and to ultimately realize that you don’t have to do anything.
Tonight, I had plans with a co-worker that got canceled. Having the evening suddenly free, I then thought to myself, “Oh shit, what am I going to do now? I can go to open mic night! Oh shit, I have nothing to perform! Okay, let’s try to find something to perform. Oh wait, I should go to dance class instead! Or, maybe I should just call my boyfriend, I’m feeling lonely. Man, it’s a Thursday night, and on Thursday nights fun young people go out and do stuff. I would be a total lame-o if I didn’t have a crazy adventurous night tonight.”
Then, however, I decided to challenge myself to simply not do anything with anyone. If I’ve been so stressed out recently, how am I supposed to relax if I’m running around and doing stuff? If I’ve been so out of touch with myself, how am I supposed to come back in touch if I’m distracting myself with other people?
It hasn’t been easy. I keep wanting to just call my boyfriend and whine to him about my loneliness. I keep checking the clock to see if I can still make it to dance class (if I leave right now I can!). I want to go look up on the internet how to move abroad and how to get an English teaching job abroad and how to study abroad and how to go back to college and how to save up money and looking for another job in order to save money and OH MY GOD my brain never gets off the treadmill, does it?
I am facing the boredom, the silence, and my own frenetic energy that is so confused in this still environment- and I think that it is the greatest thing that I could have done for myself tonight.