Cover Photo: The Agony of Doing Nothing by Lauren Suval

The Agony of Doing Nothing

I love relaxation. I love having no responsibilities on the horizon. I know I’m past the age where it’s socially acceptable to say that aloud, but it’s true, even though we all, including me, have to grow up into adults with responsibilities day in and day out.

However, I never knew what it was like to have nothing to do in a designated time frame and feel legitimately turned off. Many would surmise that it’s great to get paid to “just sit there.” People think it’s easy to just “keep busy” with the internet right in front of me. And they’re not entirely wrong. But to be completely honest, I’d much rather be consumed with a task.

I don’t do well in extremes. I despise the extreme heat, because ever since I became aware of what it means to have a heat stroke, I became vigilant about hydration, sometimes to a fault. You do not want to go with me on long summer road trips; you’d have to actually plan out the bathroom stops. I do not like the extreme cold, though I prefer being cold to warm. When it’s in the negative numbers outside and my muscles contract and clench and tighten, I want to run as fast as I can to find an indoor hideaway. I don’t like extreme spontaneity where plans are made on a whim – I’m talking about actual gatherings and big(er) events and not a last-minute tea date, though. I always feel rushed on the whim, scrambling my thoughts in order, rearranging my expectations. But I also hate committing too far in advance, because life happens and things come up. I don’t feel energized, or I get my period, just to name a couple of things that may come up, and then I must awkwardly explain my way out of the commitment. I hate extremes in politics, and I pretty much avoid being consumed by politics, but if I were to talk politics, I don’t like the far end of either spectrum.

What can I say, I’m a middle of the road kind of girl.

So, I suppose it is no shock that I don’t love being at a job where there are days of nothing. Because although I have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder, being distressed on the city streets, or taking massive amounts of work home with me (no Type A personality here), I can’t stand the blatant contrast. The hours of silence. The thoughts that go in and out that may not need to be occupying my mind in overkill, normally. But in silence, there is the space for all that nonsense. Yes, I can read or write. Yes, I can learn some stuff online. But ultimately, I am stuck in a quiet room, alone, and there’s only so much ‘occupying’ I can do.

There’s something to be said for feeling productive or having a sense of purpose. And that’s not to say I do not have one, but in those dull hours of the day, when I have nothing on my hands whatsoever, it is irritating and off-putting and tempting to just leave and go for a walk around the block.Maybe it’s hard to articulate. Maybe I’m not doing a great job at articulating it. But trust me when I say, it’s not always ideal to be paid to do nothing.

But hey, there is somewhat of a silver lining; the nothingness sparked this personal essay, which sparked happiness and catharsis, because I always zone out, in a good way, when I write. I always feel a purpose.

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Psych Central, Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her latest book, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” a collection of personal essays, can both be found on Amazon. She loves to be followed on Twitter @LaurenSuval and on Facebook @LaurenSuvalWriting.