A Monologue on Rest, Mistakes and Eventual Progress ~ IsleofAtlas
“if you don’t take over rest, rest will overtake you”
A Monologue on Rest, Mistakes and Eventual Progress.
Been a while.
This piece is going to seem like I’m talking to myself a lot…because I am. I took a break from writing last month because I wanted to ensure I wasn’t chatting from experiences I hadn’t yet experienced. This piece is going to be a brain dump of what I’ve been taught so far, so hang tight while you tune into this frequency!
(Also, if there’s a difference in my style of writing with this piece it’s because I’m trying out a new filter of speech – one that is rawer and yet requires less of me. Weird + Paradoxical, I know. But exciting, nonetheless.)
So, let’s talk about rest.
“if you don’t take over rest, rest will overtake you”
What is rest for you?
What is rest for me?
To me, I see rest in 2 dimensions – the deliberate “recharging” breaks in productivity (which everyone is familiar with) and the flow of processing work and productivity (a mindset which everyone has the potential to live in). Both are important in tandem, yet the former is often neglected, whilst the latter tends to be overlooked entirely. Why? The normalisation of a romanticised 24/7 working lifestyle (often dubbed “#TeamNoSleep”) means it HAD become out of place to take care of yourself. That was, until this year.
A year of change. A year of loss. But also, a year of gain.
Now, more than ever before, mental health and self-care have become non-negotiable implementations, voiding most concerns for unconditional productivity (not including ‘Hustler Twitter’). Effectively, ‘Work Until You Drop’ culture has taken a back seat for the time being.
“Consider your bodies as flowers in gardens, not machines in factories”
This has really stuck with me. There have been too many occasions where I’ve pushed myself beyond my limits for too long. I was applying more pressure than necessary in advancing my current state. I could see progress but I’m moving too slow. And maybe that’s the problem. I was hungry for big wins. I was impatient for it. And that made me overlook the small successes I’d achieved in my development journey so far. Every lesson, every saving was soon belittled by the mistakes, the minor setbacks, the communication gaps. And that just made me push harder.
But I’m not a machine.
I don’t have gears.
Oil doesn’t keep my joints from rusting and I certainly don’t have an “On/Off” button.
I’m human. I don’t always get it the first time. I sometimes get it wrong. And my routine is hardly ‘clockwork’ – no two days are the same with me.
And that’s not a problem.
Practise doesn’t always make perfect, but it does make progression.
And human progression isn’t linear. But it is perfecting.
Let me use a skill to illustrate this – learning to play the keys, for example.
The first new week of learning would often be flooded with enthusiasm because of the amount of progress you make, from not being able to play a single note to learning entire songs. But soon it gets boring. You lose motivation. Sometimes you stop playing altogether because you plateau, and you see no progress. You may even start to see depreciating progress in your learning experience. But soon after, you become inspired, break through that ceiling which has been limiting you and so you improve further. This cycle happens again and again until you hit your 10’000 hours and the skill you’ve invested years into becomes perfected. And the skills you eventually perfect are nothing without progression.
I’m starting to see the connections everywhere else in my life. When I learn, when I push too hard, I remind myself that I’m just putting the hours in; same as everyone else. There’s no such thing as an overnight success; I must bide my time. Because mastery is a long game. And one must think with a long-term mindset or one won’t survive long enough to surpass the successes of one’s dreams.
“Rest isn’t a bonus, it’s the process.”
Ultimately, the case I’m aiming to make is operating within something SUSTAINABLE. One which is forgiving, accepting of all of myself (my strengths + weaknesses) as I steadily make progress in rocky pastures.
Because burnout is very REAL (word up to the first quote). And it can make you feel like you’ve lost it all without having lost anything. And the truth is you’re still just as talented, just as gifted as you were the day before when you overexerted yourself, and the day before that when you skipped your rest day. Rather, piling too many responsibilities on yourself sets yourself up for failure.
It’s okay to work within your means. It’s okay to not stretch your abilities daily. It’s even okay to have days where you do nothing productive. But don’t use it as an excuse. Be honest with yourself.
Previously I used to believe, working from rest required the togetherness and organisational qualities which I thought were exhaustive to maintain long term. However, all that living a sustainable lifestyle requires of me is to consistently commit to small, progressive steps, and to be forgiving and learn from my mistakes.
Even as I’m writing now, you may be considering this as my best, most vulnerable piece to DATE, but I have my favourites, and this is not yet one of them. This is just another step.
This is something I wanted, I needed to get off my chest.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t write this piece to encourage anyone to be lazy. There’s work to be done. Rather, this is a piece for those who are ready to throw in the towel; the demotivated; the procrastinators who are afraid of the trailing tasks which lie ahead.
Take a break. Figure out what’s causing you stress.
People are relying on you so don’t give up on them.
Don’t give up on yourself.
Oh, and you’re entitled to experience random off days, pandemic or not.