Summary: How to balance “Ambition” vs. “Laziness”?
As 2021 comes to a close, I’ve reflected that this year has been way less “Doing” and more just “Being” as I’ve tried to purge old cultural conditionings of Achiever mindsets.
Though I knew cognitively that our innate Worth isn’t tied to what we do, it didn’t really sink in on a somatic or subconscious level until this year.
There was a ton of recalibrating to do. I lost motivation to do some things I had been doing as I realized I was pushing myself too hard to do them out of a sense of duty rather than genuinely wanting to do them (at least, at that pace).
I haven’t posted as regularly online, shared of myself, created art, held as many events or served my community, compared to last year.
And the vestiges of my Achiever brain has been freaking out /O.O\!! “What are you doing, you lazy blob? This year you’ve barely helped anybody! You’re a worthless PoS!!”
(I know this isn’t true – I finally ran my SensAsian Shame-Free Sex Ed group program dream this year! – but our brains are so good at exaggerating/catastrophizing and focusing on the negative or absences!)
And as much as I wanted to get “back on the wagon” as the weeks crept into months of inactivity, I just couldn’t.
A part of me was resisting, saying “Why? I don’t need to do anything to prove myself to me or anyone else! I’m not any less worthy if I just cocoon and focus on my self-care and immediate in-person community and relationships.”
Part of it was definitely screen-time fatigue. I didn’t realize how much screen time affected me until I went without it for a few months and noticed how much better I felt.
I’m so grateful for the connections all around the world I have made online, and I would not trade them for anything in the world. But I’ve realized I need to set limits on how I spend my energy.
(I had always been used to running myself ragged and pulling out extra energy from who-knows-where, but I don’t have to live like that anymore.)
And part of it was processing traumas through therapy and EMDR, especially the loss of a couple of dear friends. There were many days I felt I just didn’t have the capacity to give to others. My body was telling me I needed to tend to myself.
It was a good reminder of my own art piece I had made a while back, about filling your own cup to overflowing to give to others, rather than pouring so much that you end up depleting yourself, and we can only run so long on empty:
For a while self-care practices felt valid and healthy, but there came a point where they started to just feel indulgent.
I questioned, “How do I tell when I’ve rested enough to get back out there, vs. when I’ve fallen so out of the habit of working on my dreams, that it’s just inertia/no good reason keeping me from going back?”
The answer I came up with is, it’s ok if there’s some of both.
So what if there’s “no good reason” to rest? There is ALWAYS a good reason.
Ambition and laziness are not opposite sides of a spectrum. Laziness is, in fact, a VITAL PART of ambition. No human is meant to be a machine, tirelessly working indefinitely. We all need rest, not because we’ve worked so hard to deserve it or because it’ll help us perform better later, but simply because we NEED it. Period. No further explanations needed.
“Laziness” is just a construct; it’s a negative twist on a positive trait–having enough self-awareness to know when to recharge before any point of an entire breakdown.
Have I ever stopped to define what “laziness” is? It used to be, “If I can do something myself, it’s lazy to not do it or let someone else do it.” But that assumed I needed to do everything, to take care of everything.
And now knowing that that is NOT how it is, is not how the world works, that it’s ok to rely on others in a healthy interdependence, or that I don’t have to take everything onto my shoulders anymore…
Then how do we define “laziness”? Is there even such a thing? Aren’t we all just doing the best that we can? Why is it so noble to run ourselves past empty, to reach for energy we don’t have, to do something, when it’s better left to someone who does have the capacity, or to us at a later time, in a healthier state?
Is there ANYTHING that is so urgent that needs to be done RIGHT NOW, that is more important than our health?!
Also, we are still moving forward even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. Not every kind of growth is visible.
Some of the best ideas in the Universe came when people were “doing nothing.” When they were not running around with a giant to-do list and could let go of distractions, they were able to get to the next right step.
Some answers also came from Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and Adyashanti’s “The End of Your World.”
Many spiritual teachers point to a similar end point – the “enlightenment” or “awakening” that seekers try to reach where they become fully alive in the present, living every moment with intention and consciousness.
Some people (the “Frequency Holders”) naturally turn more inwards rather than outwards with their awakenings. They don’t feel as compelled to “do” as to just “be” the best versions of themselves, and this ABSOLUTELY ENOUGH.
If you are living each moment with joy and peace, that will have an impact on others, even if it’s not as obvious of a way as directly helping them or other routes.
There is no such thing as “laziness.” It is a word of judgment, without a good definition or standard to compare it to.
I think my biggest lesson of 2021 is that there isn’t a “right” way to go about anything. There is such beautiful variation to everyone’s unique styles. Our wiring, energy cycles, rest patterns, and unique mix of needs all affect how we best operate.
Whether I keep steady or go the feast or famine route, I am still in service to the world. I will never not be.
By simply being alive and taking care of myself, the next idea or inspiration will be churning and formulating within me, until it’s ready to blossom.
I trust that it’s happening, as long as I stay connected to myself and honor the ideas when they do come to fruition.
I had wanted to be more intentional and focused with my energy rather than letting it all pour out and then retreating for long periods of rest, but I now see that there is nothing wrong with this.
Who says it is or you have to consistently hustle to get where you want to be? Is it better to hustle but hate it and be miserable along the way, or to honor your natural patterns with more joy and ease?
It’s ok to let go of the gas pedal, or hit the brakes. If a dream is in your heart, you can trust that it won’t let go of you so easily, and it will be there for you, however you go about it.
(And if not, it wasn’t meant for you, or wasn’t really important enough to you, and that’s ok, what a gift it is to pare down the noise until we’re left with the truest pieces of ourselves?)
I loved an analogy I stumbled upon, of a mango tree. You don’t call it a mango tree only after it’s produced mangoes. It ALWAYS was and is, even when it’s tiny and sprouting and growing, or when it enters seasons of rest and hibernation.
And we all are such trees; we have such incredible gifts that are brewing inside of us, all the time, whether we share them or not, so we are ALWAYS WORTHY.
So do you, dear one, and honor your natural ebbs and flows without guilt or shame. If you need loving reminders or support, I’m always here to chat.