Falling In Love With Doing
Nearly every day this past summer, I woke up on the couch. Or rather, I woke up in my bed, walked downstairs and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Then — about three hours later — I would wake up on the couch, cursing myself yet again for failing to do the things I had planned to do that morning; study Hindi for an hour, write a blog post, and learn three new hip-hop dance moves — yes, it was the same every morning.
In three months, I remember only a handful of times that I actually woke up when my alarm went off. And after those morning hours departed with my red eyes, I rarely took the time to do the things I scheduled for those moments.
I spent the summer thinking about doing things, and carrying out all the tasks necessary to do them… but not actually doing them.
I hated myself for it.
Then I arrived in Punjab… and nothing really changed. For the first couple weeks, that is.
Week 1: Regret
Boo-hoo, I didn’t learn as much Hindi/Punjabi as I should have and now I can’t communicate with the people around me. No shit Sherlock…
Week 2: Acceptance
Well, it’s done now. I had better start listening to conversations and asking questions about what people are saying.
Week 3: Something needs to change
I kind of want some direction. I feel like complete aimlessness besides learning Punjabi is going to blow up at some point…
Week 4: I’M GOING TO DIE!!!
The lack of any doing caught up to me, every social encounter — of which there were many— was exhausting. Getting out of bed in the morning became a struggle, and simple things — like someone not being able to understand my white girl accent — became overwhelming.
I broke down at the school I am teaching at because I still couldn’t speak with the kids as well as I needed to, and even in the moments that I could, they had no intention of listening to me… it just sounded too damn funny when I spoke for even three-year-olds to take me seriously.
And it was then that I became obsessed with doing.
I started setting my alarm, and actually waking up. During the three hours between when I woke up and when I left the house, I began learning Punjabi, writing, reading, and working out.
I quickly found that despite being productive, everything I was doing was still purposeless, it was just doing for the sake of doing. So I took the time to set goals and their respective deadlines for myself and this is when everything began to chug along.
The first couple weeks, the four a.m. alarm was tough, and I would nod off every once in a while when I hadn’t prepared an idea for my writing the day before — turns out ideas are hard in the mornings, writing is easy, but an original idea at four… few and far between.
To get over the initial hump, I had to find people who I could call in the mornings and who would keep me accountable to my goals. And if there wasn’t a way a person could help, I would put my goals into calendars or into notes that I would revisit to remind me to do things, and then to remind me why I was doing them in the first place.
And, slowly, I began noticing a difference in myself. I had more patience for broken communication, I wasn’t exhausted every day at four p.m. (ironic, I know, I woke up earlier and somehow gained more energy?), and I began leaving my room excited for the day instead of dreading the conflicts — read: social encounters — it would bring.
Now, I hardly want to go back to bed after I have woken up. I have fallen in love with the feeling of doing. With the feeling of progressing towards something that isn’t now, something that I have to achieve through hard work, hosts of bad ideas, and an army of people and technology to back me.
Living in Punjab, away from everything that was familiar, and the typical things I leaned on to drive me forward through every day — school, work, evening debates — sent me into a trial by fire in which I learned that doing is required for my brain to work. And has simultaneously freed me to create a consistent schedule that allows me to accomplish those goals.
Not that I have anything to show for it… yet. I can’t belabor you with tales of my thousands of followers — if you are reading this, then you are most likely one of a very few; or with accounts of the money that is rolling in from my blog. And I’m fine with that because those things will come in time — or they may not — but for now, I am just happy to be learning something, and going somewhere.