Sunday, May 13, 2012

'Listen to your heart...'

My Roxette inspired post title today is both cheesy and dated (and yes, perhaps revealing too much of my limited musical education), but I think it reflects an important idea that too few of us tend to heed: that only you can know what's right for you.

I started thinking about this when I realised just how many physical symptoms of angst started to manifest when I realised I had to sit down and finish off some outstanding academic work. I won't say what it is, but it is something that really must be done by a certain deadline (not an internally imposed one that I have created). It won't take me long, and indeed, after finally getting around to starting it, I am flying through what I need to do. So really, why I am I finding it so physically painful to get through?

Here is a rough summation of how my afternoon has gone:

First, I turned the laptop on. Queue stomach grumbling about needing food. Ok, so break for lunch.

Second, I sit down to begin. Uh oh, need a drink of water. Away from the computer again.

Third, five minutes in and I already have a pain in my neck. Lots of shifting around trying to comfortable.

Fourth, twenty minutes in I start getting cold. Spend five minutes wrapping myself in multiple layers.

And so on and so on. Either hot or cold, shoulder and/or neck in pain and either need more food or water...

I have been forcing myself through my list of things to do with grim determination because the sooner I get it done, the sooner I am free to do more fun things. But all of this procrastinating about my physical comfort has made me realise that what it really is about is that I just don't want to do this stuff anymore.

I am pretty sure that it's not something that's task specific, because working on a computer is something that I do for my paid job too. I think it's something more to do with the mental burden of having to continue with this particular academic task. Clearly, the emotional strain of having to continue with something that I have already moved on from is manifesting in physical ways.

While my years of disciplined writing mean that I will continue, no matter what, and finish this damn task, the few months of freedom from such discipline have forced me to realise that listening to what my body/soul/psyche/mind/instinct is really telling me is hard to do when immersed in externally and arbitrarily created goals that are imposed on me by a system not of my own making. One of the joys of being free from academic life is being able to focus more clearly on what it is that I want to do. Current incomplete tasks notwithstanding.


  1. Sorry it took me a while to post on here. I was too busy singing Roxette :) Incidentally, Roxette was a karaoke go-to for me.

    I understand what you're saying about heeding physical cues as a good indicator of when your body REALLY doesn't want to do something.

    I've been really sick this semester and I think it has to do with all the stress, pressure, sadness, anxiety I've been experiencing.

    Here's clearing out that mental, physical, and sometimes literal baggage!

  2. "I don't know where it's goin... and I don't know why... but listen to your thesis... before you kiss grad school goodbye!"

    Less satirically: reading through my own journal archive, I can very clearly see that the stress and uncertainty of grad school manifested in illness and extreme fatigue. School made me sick.