I don’t want to be proud of being busy all the time

A month ago, my partner Kula asked me to reflect,

“How much of the work that you currently work on, actually serves your own interest and goals? Don’t you think the time you put into all this work should be prioritized towards your own project, instead of someone else’s?”

The truth is that, at that moment (when I was still unemployed), 80% of my work was voluntary/unpaid work for someone else’s pet project, someone else’s event or someone else’s page.

I was getting invited to do IG Lives, IG story takeovers, to run live workshops, to do free commissions, even to do a book review (lol).

It was validating to be asked to give my input on topics that interested me, so of course, I always said, ‘Yes, I am happy to support you!’ I kept busy all the time, working on content for all these different projects and individuals.

I went weeks without much rest. I rationalized to myself saying – I enjoy the work + it is for a good cause. Not to mention, it also helps put my name out there, which is great to a newbie content creator.

But Kula was right.

In pursuit of working on newer, shinier projects with other individuals, I had, unfortunately, put my own passion projects, my own rest time and my own community in the backburner.

I kept accepting new projects constantly because I used my busy-ness to validate my existence and identity. In fact, I saw it as something to be proud of and to show off.

“Look at me working on all these cool projects! Look at me being asked to talk about this interesting topic. Maybe that makes me someone important?”

Saying no so I can say yes to what matters

So I paused.

I had to reaccess my capacity and where it was best used.

I had to detach from this mindset that my being only has value when it is productive.

I reflected that ultimately, my free time should be spent primarily on myself, my partner, my cat and my home. Secondary to this, is the act of nurturing my family and friends. Then, my two passion projects, ie curating Malaysian Indian Anthology and blogging here at cukup.club

By this moment, I had also started employment at a new NGO, which meant I had even less free time now, so I have to be more mindful of any leftover energy and time.

I began saying no to new projects, events, commissions that came my way.

I also intentionally removed myself from several projects that I had earlier committed too. Thankfully, those teams were understanding of my new life circumstances and so we parted on amicable terms.

Saying no is actually trickier than I thought because more often than not, the opportunities presented are quite attractive and beneficial. But the hard truth is that, I just don’t have the time for it.

An example: For me, as someone who is a content-creator that is financially fragile due to being unemployed, it seems worthwhile for me to take on a lot of commissions and new projects that can help boost my revenue and exposure.

But I still made a hard decision to decline all of em, even the flashy collabs, because the fact is that, if I said yes, it would take time away from my own rest, my own community, and my own passion projects. And that is what matters first!

What matters more: Quality or Quantity?

This is why I have been away for the past three weeks from blogging here.

I had actively forced myself to take a break from all projects momentarily including blogging, and instead spend my free time just watching TV and cooking for my partner and myself. I even learnt to TikTok, folks!

I used to take pride in being involved in so many diverse projects, but now I realize that quantity is superficial when the quality of my work and my energy are compromised. I should focus on just a few, but do it very well.

I sometimes feel guilty for declining past opportunities, thinking that instead of spending time at home watching TV, my time would be more worthwhile if it was spent working on new content that puts my name out there.

This is where Kula will remind me, “You should not feel guilty for not being productive. It is equally important to have time to rest and just, BE”.

So, I remind myself: I don’t have to be busy all the time, nor do I want to take pride in it either.

P.S. Happy to be blogging again after recentring and reprioritising!

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