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The word "Work"

Some Yahoo

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For some reason, as I was growing up I came to associate the word work with "stuff you have to do even though it's not fun and you hate doing it". 

  • Do your homework
  • Do the yard work
  • Go work out

The thing is - and this is vitally important - what you do most of in life, and what you'll derive the most meaning from is most likely going to be attached to the word work.  When I was in high school, they still taught photography - with the chemicals and everything.  I loved it because none of it was sitting in the classroom reading a book and writing answers on paper. 

After I graduated, I spent many weekends with friends finding places to shoot some photos.  And I had a blast.  

Then I got a job to shoot photos of a local business so they could set up a booth at the county fair.  At first I attacked the project eagerly but over time I started to think of it as work rather than fun, and over the next two months, I squandered all my time and ended up rushing to get the project done in time for the fair.

The thing is - the owner was my best friends older brother, and had he asked me to do it as a favor, and not offered to pay me, I would have finished in 3 days!   Just attaching the word work to it made it a drudgery to me - a thing I had to do, rather than a thing I wanted to do.  I guess I have always hated being told what to do.

One thing I have learned as I got older is that our work defines us, and the work we do in this world is what we leave behind long after we're gone.  In some ways our life's work is the most important thing we'll spend time on in our entire lives.

As part of re-imagining myself after gaming, I have been trying to teach myself to love the word work.  To look upon it as a kind of monument to myself and justification for all the food I have consumed and air I have breathed (that more worthy people might have used).  Most of us have trouble feeling like we deserve a monument to our lives - I certainly don't feel like I do - but why not?  At least we can try to become our best self, strive toward our unreachable ideal.

But isn't is futile to strive - to expend limited energies and time toward the unreachable?

Yes, but listen.  LISTEN. 

YOU WILL NEVER REACH PERFECT, BUT YOU'LL END UP SOMEPLACE BETTER.  You'll leave behind this place of mired in mediocrity, and push the overloaded barge that is your life in a direction of someplace better.  Slightly better at first, perhaps infinitesimally, unnoticeably better, and you'll have setbacks, but you can't push in a positive direction without making some progress.  Any progress.

Bottom line: don't fear work.  No great restaurant owner has never washed dishes or bussed tables.  No great author started out great at spelling and grammar, or didn't write cheesy fan fiction.  No great comic never crashed and burned in front of an audience. 

So get out there, suck at something until you master it.  Suck at relationships until you don't.  Suck at writing until you finish that novel.  Be you.  You is here for a reason.  The universe spent aeons making a you.  You have potential.  Just use it.

Edited by Some Yahoo
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Very nice post ! Have you also struggled with the idea of "deserving to slack off" ? After a solid amount of work (not nearly an awesome amount) I often feel like I now deserve to game or binge netflix or whatever just because I did the minimum. I really admire people that work late into the night on something instead of saying "oh its past 7 I did enough I better watch 2 hours of netflix now or game for 3 hours because I earned it"

I also feel like that this is a sign of bad values. Like how you said : Work is something you have to do while gaming is something you get to do. I feel like this mindset is toxic in a way because it binds you to a mediocre fate. Because if you always do the bare minimum you will probably do fine, you will get a job, you can have a nice life but you will leave nothing behind as you put it, but you will never have a great life. Because you never did great stuff. While you decided its ok to game now for 8 hours because its saturday, someone else is kicking ass instead.

But there again you also need breaks and do other stuff than just work. How do you balance it ?

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  • 3 months later...

Well I took a long time to reply, but I am struggling with depression, and one problem that plagues me is when I go to bed at night after working 0-3 hours all day, I don't feel like I deserve anything but "you're fired".   I never feel like I have earned a break.  I have this little routine I fall into...

  1. Damn, this work was so hard yesterday, I just can't figure it out!
  2. Let me open this file and stare at the same problem I failed at yesterday.
  3. Hey, I have an idea!
  4. Oh but that would take a phone call and a lot of dicking around to figure out.
  5. Eff it.  Load up the game (or Netflix, or Youtube).  I'll take a break and try to get motivated.
  6. As the game loads there is a tiny voice in my head that repeats Right now.  This is you effing up your day.  This is where you are ruining your life.  This decision.
  7. 8 hours later - Oh eff it, I quit for the day.
  8. At bedtime, the little voice repeats, Might as well game all day, you're just worthless.

This is the future if you give in to the game.  You're passing up your life in exchange for something that doesn't matter one bit.  All games end.  Imagine turning 50 and telling your friends how awesome you were at the game you're playing.  Now imagine a guy who's 50 now bragging about how good he was at Defender or Pac-Man.  This is the future you we are trying to escape.

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One thing we talked about on this forum a while ago is that gaming saps your energy almost as much as work does. You're still engaging your mind and motor functions even if it feels "relaxing" (tbh I was usually stressed out most of the time I was gaming, haha). So that might help you eliminate that idea of gaming until you get motivated to work... by gaming you're actually virtually guaranteeing you won't work afterward.

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