I questioned my life choices twice yesterday.
The first was after my fiancé and I met with a potential photographer for our engagement and wedding photos. She had this amazing studio/living space in trendy South Boston. It had a loft-type feel: wood beams, exposed brick, big windows, the works. The building was full of artists; paintings and photos adorned the walls.
I grew up visiting art galleries and openings with my dad, hanging out in the studio space where he taught his classes, going to strange places to salvage colorful materials for the potential art projects of our dreams. That studio space feels like home to me, in a way. I used to love to draw and make collages, to make anything. I still do.
Walking back to our apartment, I said to Krys: “Doesn’t being in a space like that make you want to make art?” He is a fellow creative soul. “Yes,” he said, without hesitation. “What am I doing with my life?” I cried. “Why didn’t I become an artist?” “Sarah,” he said. “You’re writing. You’re on the right path. You’re doing just fine.”
The second time I questioned myself was later on in the day, watching made-for-TV Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. A guilty pleasure. I was recovering from a cold, and amidst blankets and Kleenex, watching Matchmaker Santa, I moaned, again, this time to myself: “Really, what am I doing with my life?”
Being sick can make you feel delirious, which might be why I was being so dramatic. But it can also force you to sit down and relax. If you can. Of course, even lounging isn’t as fun if you’re sick. Your tastebuds are off, you’re sneezing every five seconds, and you’re watching those Hallmark movies through an added layer of fog (which is probably for the best). But, if you’re like me, a chronic multi-tasker with a million things to do and a high stress level, doing nothing on a weekday can seem perplexing, even troubling. (Note: on weekends and holidays, or after a long day, I’m perfectly content to morph into a vegetable on the couch.)
The previous day, I left work early because I was sick, so I went home to crash on the couch…but not before making a pit stop at the grocery store, throwing in a load of laundry, and getting out my homework. It was only 1:30 in the afternoon. So many hours ahead of me! I should clean, I thought. I should wedding plan. Catch up on my reading. Catch up on correspondences. Am I too sick to go for a run? And then I should work on my novel. Then—
What? I said back to myself, my rational side kicking in. Sarah, you feel like shit. Make some tea, get a blanket, wholly embrace this bad movie, and sit the fuck down.
Yes, even when I’m telling myself to relax, I’m really hard on myself. And thinking I can conquer the world with a few extra hours of time is deluded. But free time is so hard to come by, it’s hard not to get overly ambitious when I have it. And then I beat myself up if I don’t use it properly.
Doesn’t relaxing kind of negate itself when you beat yourself up for doing it?
I’m learning that stress, or having a high level of it, all the time, is its own sickness. My mind is going constantly, and there are times I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t truly think I chose the wrong career path (and I don’t need a studio space in South Boston to create art) and there are worse things you can do than enjoy the occasional poorly-acted Hallmark movie. But I know I need to be kinder to myself, know that I’m doing okay, and that I’m on the right path. Even if it gets interrupted by a cold now and then.