Living in a metropolis is mentally exhausting. New York burnt me out so I moved back home to Los Angeles — but even so I feel caught up in the rat race. There’s a goal to be obtained, a relatively active social life to maintain. In my universe at least, monotony is frowned upon, stagnation has become a stigma. I’m afraid to stop working, to stop writing, to stop exploring, to stop publishing, to stop making money. I’m terrified of idleness.
My ex was a workaholic and that, in its own twisted way, fueled that fear throughout college. We’d be on a beautiful island on summer vacation but would spend a majority of the time in a coffee shop doing work. I eventually resented him for prioritizing work and naturally, we didn’t work out for that very reason.
Fast forward a year and I’m in another coffee shop. This time it’s in Los Angeles and my current boyfriend Clark* is staring me straight in the eyes.
“You’re not present,” he says.
It’s not the first time he has brought it up, but the statement hits me hard.
I don’t blame him. As a person who works in media, it’s difficult to separate work from the rest of the day. I’ve become so adept at multi-tasking that I’ve forgotten the value of really listening and giving someone my complete and utter attention. He’s right. Not being present is disrespectful. It’s rude and hurtful to the other person.
My body temporarily goes into shutdown mode and I want to run far away. In a twist of irony, I’ve become the very person who caused myself so much misery.
“I’m sorry,” I say, swallowing up every bit of my pride and fighting back tears. “I’ll try harder.”
My solution: I put down the phone. Brief photo taking is okay — because that is just the nature of my job — but by and large I avoid the social media channels when I’m off the clock.
The embedded photos in this post are snapshots from my recent San Diego weekend trip with Clark — 100% unedited. They’re a window into how my life is transforming since I’ve decided to slow it down a notch. I’m allowing myself to be idle and I’m giving myself permission to not be as updated on current events (or my Twitter feed) as I would like to be. I try not to spend my meals with Clark and my friends analyzing the ingredients in the food, the background of the chef and the average price range of the menu. I forgo most social media channels and no longer spend time conjuring up hashtags and a witty caption. A simple upload on Instagram and geo-tagging does the trick in my book. The rest I deal with on my own time.
Quality time with the people you love or even self-care time needs to be untainted in order to be effective. For me, the fear of idleness came from living in cities with so much movement. This sounds pathetic — but taking a vacation sans my laptop was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long while.
I’ve become (and still am) adamant on making a name for myself and establishing klout in the media world. ..So much so that I sometimes forget the physical world.
But the truth is the high I get from traveling far outlasts the excitement of getting an article published or seeing myself on television. Intimate moments of face-to-face conversation are far more valuable than connecting with strangers online a là tweets. I spent the last three days being present and being okay with not doing anything in particular — and it was fantastic.
“Would you ever move to San Diego?” Clark asked me when we were driving into the city.
“I’d get really bored here.”
Now, I’m not so sure.
*Boyfriend, name changed.