Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing Lab: On Wasted Energy

Prompt: "What does the phrase 'a waste of energy' mean to you?"

To me, a waste of energy is usually an activity or pursuit that consumes time, brainpower, and other intangible personal resources, but doesn't really have a point or yield useful results. I'm thinking of tasks like mindless busy work you might be given at a place of employment or things your parents gave you to do when you were a kid just to keep you out of their hair. They're wastes because that same energy could just as well be spent on something that feels worthwhile because it's actually fun, useful, or productive.

Sometimes I think of other scenarios as wastes of energy on a larger scale though. Examples from my life would include some of my past relationships. I used to have a bad habit of getting into relationships with people I wasn't all that into just so I wouldn't have to be single. In some of those cases, I stayed with the person for years despite being 100% aware that I didn't see any sort of a future with them. Even casual relationships consume a lot of energy though, so I look back on situations like that as having been absolute wastes. I could have been spending that energy on bettering my own life or on people that were better suited to me. I also think back on some of my old jobs.

When you combine all of those situations and look at them as a collective, they add up to entire years of my life flushed straight down the toilet because they yielded absolutely nothing of use. That time and energy is something I'll never get back. I wonder all the time how my life might be different or more stable if I'd actually spent those years on worthwhile people and pursuits instead. Not every life experience has to be earth-shattering or life-changing, but it would be nice if I could at least look back on some of those situations as having been fun for what they were at the time.

This ties in a little bit with what I was talking about in my post from yesterday as well. The one where I talked about finding life perpetually boring on so many levels. It sounds completely narcissistic, but I often feel like I might be too smart for most people and for most of the experiences life is likely to throw at you. That said, I think I got used to being bored to the point where I expected it and took it as a given. 

I really did think that if I wanted to be in a relationship, part of that would mean learning to settle for someone that bored me because that's all there was out there. I thought having a job meant having to "put up" with work that was unsatisfying or out of synch with the life I wanted to be living, because that's all there was. Same goes for other types of situations and relationships. I never learned to recognize boredom and disinterest as warning signs that a situation might not be right for me because I didn't know there was such a thing as an alternative.

I think I'm learning it now though. Finding even one person whose company I genuinely enjoy and even a few casual activities to spend my time on that actually move me has helped a lot though. If there can be one or "just a few", then there can be more. Once you know the things you really want actually exist out there, it becomes pretty much impossible to settle for anything less ever again.