It seems the old adage can go both ways: all play can make you feel just as dull.
Today I celebrate my one month unemployment anniversary and rather than having the time of my life, my days have been wracked with guilt and a general sense of purposelessness. Madrid, it turns out, is a horrible city to slack off in. The weather, although uncomfortably hot, is spotless. In Dublin, I at least had an excuse for staying in the house all day adding things to my Amazon cart I’d never buy and watching episodes of shows I’d seen 1,000 times before. When it’s raining you don’t really have a choice. But when the sun is shining 100% of the time, and you can hear a constant stream of people outside your balcony, you can’t help but feel a bit worthless when you realize it’s 4 pm and you’re still sitting on the couch in your underwear.
Or maybe I’m overthinking it. My days haven’t been completely devoid of productivity. I’ve worked on some writing projects, applied to be an online English tutor for kids in China, and reached out to two different businesses about Spanish classes and starting a CELTA certificate course. The last two things are not moving as quickly as I would like due to the fact that practically the entire city of Madrid leaves for vacation during the entirety of August, but it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless.
And I got a gym membership. Past gym memberships, whether free due to university enrollment or paid for with equal measure of cash and good intentions, have largely gathered dust. For the past two weeks though, I’ve gone with J nearly every day. Surprisingly, I don’t hate it. I might even be turning into one of those freaks I’ve scorned in the past who actually enjoy working out.
While I still detest the uncomfortable amount of self-indulgent mirror-staring and inhuman grunting I encounter there, I like that I’m following through on something for once. Plus, it means I get to eat more after a brutal spin class. That’s how that works, right? (She asks no one in particular while eating an ice cream cone in bed)
But I guess the main thing I’ve realized with this month of endless lie-ins and unscheduled existence is that free time loses its value if you have too much of it. I think back to how precious my days off were while I was working over the past ten months and how even wasting time felt like it was earned.
The point is, finding an appropriate balance between work and leisure is precarious. Right now, with no job, I don’t feel like I have a purpose. And while I’m not going to get into the intricacies of what I see as false purposes vs. true purposes in life, I’ll say that people need a reason to get up in the morning. It’s that simple.
I’ll have forward direction once I (hopefully) start this course in October, and even more so when I start working in November but I’m going to need to find a way to structure my time better in September so I don’t lose my mind. I’m sure in a few months, I’ll shake my head in disgust over these complaints, but for the present, the struggle is certainly real.