What do I get up to in my days, weeks, where I have every waking minute to myself? Isn’t it super weird that we are so used to giving our time to other places, like work, friends, fam, significant others that when we get all the time back to ourselves it’s unusual? As if I’m not giving my time to someone else, then what am I doing with it. Well! I haven’t actually felt extremely bored yet.
Since every minute is my “spare time”, I’ve done a lot of research on dog breeds in preparation for when I one day get a dog. I’ve watched a toooonnnn of Dog Whisperer lolol. Most dogs need a job, or thrive on having one to stop them from becoming depressed, bored and destructive. And I feel like humans are similar in that we need to feel like we’re working as well.
Even before offices and professional jobs were a thing, humans have always felt compelled to be doing work, like ploughing fields, hunting and gathering, building.
So it’s not surprising that now I don’t have a job, a lot of people ask me what I do during my day. Some people tell me they get bored after 2 weeks off, let alone a few months. I understand. When I was working full time, I also could not comprehend having so much free time.
And yes. I do apply for jobs. I apply for jobs several times a week. No, I don’t have any jobs I desperately want because I’ve learnt to not get my hopes up just for applying, especially because I know it’s mostly not humans reading my CV but programmes scanning it for keywords and that a lot of my applications were probably unread. No, I have not had any joy. I’m not going to stress about it, because I’m not going to make this the end of my world and ruin my mood and motivation. I could if I let it, but this has also become an exercise on control over my mood as well.
So apart from above, what do I do?
- Volunteer my expertise. I volunteer my social media and marketing to a Kiwi Chinese group! It’s great because I really love the little team, they’re so funny to work with. I get to call the shots and be a bit “bossy”, since it’s been a while since I could really stretch out my bossiness (aka leadership skills). It makes me feel empowered and good at what I do when I see my plans work out. And since it’s for the Kiwi Chinese community, I’ve realised that the way I interact with Kiwi Asians is different from how I interact with others. In particular:
I am much more physically affectionate with Kiwi Asians. I don’t know why! If they are girls, I feel comfortable reaching out and stroking their hair. I always try to hug Kiwi Asians. Maybe it’s because the Asian culture is not very physical, and I want to do my part to change it. Maybe it’s also because I feel more at ease with Kiwi Asians because I feel like I know them even if I don’t, and so I already feel bonded to them. Idk.
I hold Kiwi Asians at a much higher standard. This could be another blogpost, but my pet peeves are shyness, meekness and the Asian stereotype where women are subservient and too scared to speak their mind. I don’t really care when other people are shy, but when I see an Asian person so shy that it’s their defining trait and it affects their life, it makes me want to push them so badly. Tell the world how you feel. Tell the world what you want. Or else everyone else is going to talk all over you and get their validation, comfort and their wants and it’s never going to be your turn. People assume you want nothing and feel fine with anything, and so can give you nothing and do anything to you. I feel like this has been my life lesson, since I used to be painfully shy until I was about 10. So seeing other Kiwi Asians still in that mindspace is like seeing a part of me that I didn’t like in myself, when I didn’t put myself and my feelings and wants first. I know I need to accept that other people have different personalities than me, and some are fine with being in the background, drawing no attention to themselves, letting others take the spotlight or be the priority. But there’s a part of me that screams that this sort of behaviour is setting yourself up to lose, and I have to bite my tongue. Because I really don’t want Kiwi Asians to lose.
- Cook! I’ve made a resolution that I am only buying food when I am hanging out with my friends and it’s the point of the gathering. I shouldn’t be buying food for convenience or cravings when making my food is cheaper and it’s not like I need to gain weight. Here are some of my creations! Also my food instagram has more followers than my normal instagram so it’s official that more people care about pics of my dinner than pics of me lol.
- Watch a shitload of Netflix. So far I have finished The Office, Schitts Creek and the majority of S4 of The Crown. If you ever want to talk about royal gossip, I am your girl. Also have been rewatching Suits.
- Read. I’ve read some really interesting books. One that has made the most impact is The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang who has schizophrenia and is describing her experience. I had no clue what schizophrenia was like, and Esme Weijun Wang is super smart – she went to Yale and Stanford. She describes her psychotic episodes, as well as the research she does into schizophrenia (and she is very well researched) – but at the same time you get the desperation of her finding no real answers, and the murkiness of mental health – because humans have not figured it out yet. We don’t know what causes conditions like schizophrenia, have any solid tests or markers for it, or any solid treatment – the medication is more like trial and error and to treat the symptoms. There are no cures. There were so many lines in the book that hit deep, and one of them was “there is a thin line between reality and unreality”.
I’m sure a lot of you have tried weed or other drugs, and even if you don’t see things or hear voices, have had moments of paranoia, or become convinced about something that didn’t really make sense. She talks about how she admitted herself to a psych ward once because she was feeling “unsafe” – I imagine it like living your day completely sober feeling an intense paranoid trip, which is terrifying. Because when you’re high, even when it’s irrational, you and your body believe it – the sweats, the trembling, the fidgeting.
It’s super weird to think that what you know is not from what your eyes see, but what your mind sees. She talks about how in psychotic episodes she thought she was dead and living in the afterlife, times where her brain didn’t get that “familiarity” when she saw friends, family and even her dog so she thought they were all body doubles, how she has had hallucinations of rotting corpses, shadows coming at her and voices talking to her. She also gets triggered by movies, where I feel once again the line between reality and unreality is so thin – you have to manage your belief when seeing unrealistic worlds for the setting of the movie so you can enjoy it, but still hold onto the fact that it’s all fake.
When you dream, your mind believes all sorts of unrealistic and unreasonable things that you’re not seeing with your actual eyes. If your brain can be convinced about so many things that aren’t real, is schizophrenia really that hard to understand?
It also made me think about how unsophisticated humans still are about mental health. We ignore and are uncompassionate about people who look homeless and act irrationally like talking to themselves – are they in this position because their mental health has interfered with their life? She makes a point how involuntary admissions into psych wards are such a human rights violation. No one believed her when she was telling the doctors where she went to school, or that she was ok.
You have to do what they tell you, take the drugs they give you, and can only leave when they let you. Yes these people can be dangerous to themselves, but they are treated like criminals when they haven’t committed a crime. They just have a mental illness which humans don’t know what to do with.
I didn’t know that some people still undergo electroconvulsive therapy/ electroshock therapy for mental illnesses (even in the NZ article that I linked above, it’s only a recommendation that they should ask patients for their consent) – it sounds like something out of the 1800s. Old mental asylums are sites of fear now – people were treated so badly that we think they’re haunted (like Spookers which I went to for my bday), but how much has changed? Patients forced to take medicines and undergo treatments that don’t fix the problem and that vary in effectiveness, people forced to stay in this building with no control over what happens to their body, and society being afraid of them.
Esme Weijun Wang is so painfully selfaware and afraid of her madness and the situation. It was such an eye-opening book and so necessary. I didn’t like her dabbles into spiritualism at the end, but I hope more people read her story.
- Make youtube videos. They’re just about my day because I have nothing else to offer lol
- Losing weight. This has been a really pleasant side effect of not buying food out all the time, going to pole fitness classes and walking to places. I still eat a lot of naughty things but I’ve managed to calm down on the chips. 2020 has been the year where I’ve eaten the least chips since I was 18 :’(
So yeah, I’ve basically spent all my free time doing stuff I like. Watching tv, reading, cooking, eating, sleeping in, getting involved in passion projects, finding exercise that I enjoy. I think it’s becoming outdated where we only let ourselves have time near the end of our lives, when we should not feel bad at any age. The catch is that when you’re unemployed it’s hard to do things like travel or knock off things on my bucketlist that cost $$.
I’m trying hard to not feel bad about taking my time. I’m not going to let myself, or others, do it, even if there is a stigma about being unemployed. Becoming depressed isn’t going to help me and I’m going to try in my limited ways to not become bored.
Of course I get flashes of feeling super guilty that I’m not productive. I’m not a fan of my bank account doing nada and I’m unable to work toward any financial goals apart from avoiding financial ruin. I’m definitely not achieving any career goals. I find it uncomfortable telling people I’m unemployed, especially when they assume I am and start asking questions about my job.
But I’m going to try my hardest to not dwell things that will ruin my me time.
I’m not going to start chasing my own tail. I’m just going to take a nap on the couch and chase butterflies until my name is called.