When All You Can Do Is Twiddle Your Thumbs

Waiting. My personal kryptonite.

Particularly the kind of waiting when I know something is looming in the near future, but I don’t know when or how it might affect me. This kind of waiting makes me feel imbalanced. Half of me wants to (and should) listen to my own advice by focusing on the 24 hours in front of me, while the other half wants to play around with a thousand scenarios on what could happen even if there are truly only a handful of plausible possibilities.

This lack of mental congruity puts me in a bind and sends me back to an old and all too familiar place. I get incredibly anxious, which can lead to self-defeating assessments on my current “status” in life. Anything I have done in the past is meaningless, and everything I will do in the future will lead me down a disastrous path I will eventually have to backtrack on.

Much of what I have written on Your Pen Paul thus far has had the sole intention of lifting your spirits to push yourself to a level of living you know you deserve. I want to empower you to not only make positive changes in your life, but to make the kind of changes you have full control over.

You know you’ve done everything in your power to land the job, but there’s an emptiness inside you.

The irony of this message is the very real fact that you will at times have to endure the kind of waiting I described above. The kind of waiting where you are so close to a goal you can almost taste it, but you can no longer actively impact the final results. What you think is the final step in your short term journey might actually be a dead end with a less than palatable lesson.

For instance, let’s say you just went through a month-long, multi-round interview process where you knocked it out of the ballpark, but are still uncertain of your fate. You know you’ve done everything in your power to land the job, but there’s an emptiness inside you.

Your confidence turns to self-doubt as you pick at the ways you could have improved upon a particular answer, or how you could have asked a better question to express the curiosity you will bring to the job. You chew on these thoughts for far too long and forget how encouraged you felt when you walked out the door on interview day.

When something means so much to your future, and the fulfillment of what seems like an impossible dream is a simple, “you’re hired” away, how can any rational human being not get carried away by fantastic thoughts? I might be wrongfully justifying this behavior by calling it “rational,” but in the end, I still believe it is human nature to use our creative minds to fantasize about the future before it arrives.

So, how can you and I keep this playwright alter ego at bay? This is a question I have avoided for too long, and I have decided to piece together various tools that have helped me get out of this funk in the past. In sharing my strategies, I hope you can find some stable ground as life throws you into limbo and makes you play the waiting game.

WORDS OF WISDOM

The power of written word was relatively dormant before Gutenberg’s 15th century invention, the printing press. Unfortunately, mostly due to censorship, centuries of wisdom were held in close circles before this ingenious device was created. The masses were finally supplied with a resource to freely explore and interpret text in its rawest form, whose knowledge was formerly transferred through the single, biased lenses of wooing orators.

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
— Marcus Aurelius

Now that we live in a world with almost too much information, it can be as cumbersome to explore the world of words as it is to wait for the unknown. However, the more you read, the more likely you are to find thoughts that echo inside the chambers of your heart. For me, these words are found in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I have read his musings time and time again. My 25 cent copy looks like a coloring book. Every philosophical idea I want to integrate into my life is highlighted in bright orange for quick access when I need some direction.

The words found in these pages resonate with me to no end, and are a place of solace during times of distress.

Do you have something you enjoy reading to bring your life back into focus? Whether it’s a book, article online, or simple quote, there is a powerful mysticism in words that flow freely into your soul and make you feel revived no matter how off course your mind has travelled.

SIESTA FIESTA

Morgan always captures my best moments.

Morgan always captures my best moments.

The natural sleep cycle of homo-sapiens is a bit more in depth than the same old “get your 7-8 hours of sleep each night” rhetoric. For a couple decades now, science has proven the naturalness of what many cultures have embraced for centuries, the desire to sleep in the middle of the afternoon.

Napping fits right in line with our daily biological rhythm, and when it comes to its mental health benefits, look no further. Ranging from reducing the prevalence of more harmful mental disorders like anxiety and depression to less definable “blah” feelings that pop up throughout the week, napping can be the perfect all-natural solution you’ve been looking for.

I have never been much of a napper myself, but sometimes when my mind is screaming at me, “enough is enough,” due in large part to mental fatigue, taking a nap is the first thing that comes to mind.

BRAIN DUMP

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This one should come as no surprise given the existence of this post. When my mind is racing away into the unlit corridors of incomprehensible thoughts, I reach for a pen and start jotting down my thoughts as they come. I don’t aim for anything cohesive or publishable. I simply transfer the chaos in my brain to a merciful piece of paper and call it a day.

This writing session can take the form of playful poetry, a short story, or anything your heart desires in the heat of the moment. I tend to choose poetry as the creativity turns my sour mood upside down and allows my analytical side to take a much needed rest.

I hope one, if not all, of these ideas come to mind when you start to endure any feelings of uncertainty and that these tools can assist you in getting your mind back on track. I’d love to hear about the tools you find helpful when things start going awry, so feel free to share in the comments!


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