My name is Nique Yager and I guess I’m an artist, in the sense that I create art – not in the sense that I make a living off of it. I’ve studied just enough art theory to know that the things I make are considered “low art”, and that I have no interest in studying any more art theory.
Like most artists, and writers, and creators of all kinds, I feel like I don’t create enough. Some people call it writer’s block, others call it procrastination, or lack of motivation, self-doubt, fear of failure, depression, anxiety, all the reasons we come up with not to create, when all we want to do is create. Sometimes it’s simply laziness.
I’ve often thought one of my biggest problems is laziness, but am I actually that lazy? Or am I just tired?
A quick Google search reveals the definition of lazy as: unwilling to work or use energy. Synonyms are idle, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, underactive, sluggish, lethargic.
Am I those things? Sure, sometimes. Who isn’t? It’s human nature to be lazy, in the sense that we are always trying to conserve as much energy as possible, likely because people evolved in a time of scarcity. I’m reminded of that Discovery show Naked and Afraid, where contestants are often accused, by other contestants, of being lazy, when really they are literally starving and sleep deprived. By lying around and not doing anything they’re simply trying to not die. That’s not laziness, that’s efficiency. But by definition, not doing anything is laziness. So then the problem isn’t whether or not someone is being lazy, it’s the connotation that laziness is necessarily a bad thing. Of course, if you’re reading this then you’re probably in the global 1%, so your life is pretty cushy. You’re not on Naked and Afraid and you’re not living in scarcity. You’ve got a million options in front of you for things you could be doing. So why are you doing nothing? Why am I, so often, doing nothing?
But am I really so often doing nothing? I mean, I have a job. I work like, 40 hours a week. Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, which is, certainly by my standard, a lot. And I work hard at my job, or what at certain times I’ve even dared to call my career. And I also workout every day. So that’s not lazy, but I also spend a lot of time in front of the TV. Instead of drawing or writing, or working on things I care about, I veg out with TV or the internet. But are those necessarily bad habits? Again I must ask, is this really laziness, or is it legitimate fatigue?
After a long day at work I don’t have the energy to do anything else. As an introvert I have just spent the entire day getting drained of all my energy through interactions with my coworkers. Not only do I no longer have the energy to be with people, I don’t have the energy for anything!
And then there’s the anemia. Anemia is a blood disorder and there are many different kinds. Most people are familiar with the acquired kind, which you can get from poor nutrition, or excessive blood loss. I have hereditary spherocytosis and it’s really not that big of a deal, but symptoms include pallor, jaundice, and most significantly, fatigue. My red blood cells are misshapen and prone to rupture so they don’t have a very long shelf-life. As a result my body is constantly in overdrive producing new blood cells to replace the dead ones. So I’m more tired than the average Joe. Or am I? How can I know? I have no basis for comparison. Because life is always fair, I also have a few other ailments, such as poor eyesight. I know what it’s like to be able to see, and what it’s like to be visually impaired, so I know my vision is sub-par. But I don’t know what it’s like to not have anemia. I don’t know if I’m actually more tired than everyone else, or if I’m just lazy!
All I can do is compare myself to others. I live a fairly active lifestyle, especially considering all my hobbies are sedentary. A lot of people these days have office jobs and we’re all sedentary. I’m not any less active than other office-dwellers, but I definitely have several examples of simply not being able to do what others take for granted. Like the time in high school when we had to do the Canada Fitness Test in gym class. We all had to run around the soccer field however many times and I’m the only one who couldn’t do it. I might have been able to do it, given enough time, but the bell rang before I could finish. It was pretty embarrassing but luckily everyone else had gone to their next class so there was no one left to make fun of me. As a child, I was definitely sickly. I was that kid who’s always getting nosebleeds and who catches every cold.
But as an adult, I’ve been reasonably healthy, and I feel like I’m fairly fit. Although, every time I go on a bike ride, every other cyclist passes me. Not just the hardcore people either. The old grannies pass me too. Still, I’m not so weak that I could claim to be affected by spoon theory. Or rather, I do have limited spoons, (limited energy) but much more than someone with a severe illness. I have a friend with MS and it would be rather insensitive and pretentious of me to claim I go through even a fraction of what she has to deal with.
So yeah, I get dizzy sometimes, but doesn’t everyone? I’ve known completely healthy people who have fainted for no reason at all, and I’ve never passed out, so perhaps I’m not prone to physical failure after all. Maybe I’ve just conditioned myself to avoid failure by avoiding effort, which is a rather lazy approach to life.
I remember a conversation I had once where I was making fun of my lethargy, and my friend commiserated, talking about how she’s insanely lazy. I laughed it off but I was actually offended that she would consider herself lazy. In my view, she was a “do everything” person. One of those people who seems to be constantly doing things. Going to school, and work, and cooking, and raising kids, and freaking macrame or whatever, all at the same time. My reaction to her self-deprecation was to feel ashamed of myself, because if she considers herself lazy, then what would she consider me? But does that even matter? Does it matter what our neighbours are doing, or is the only important gauge our own feelings? As long as I feel like I’m doing enough, then I’m doing enough. But that’s my point. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough.
Instead of spending time creating, I watch TV. I watch a lot of TV. So much so that I’ve developed rules for myself. I will only watch a show if it has a sci-fi, or fantasy, or supernatural element. Or if it’s a period piece. And certain sitcoms. And adventure based, or creative reality TV. And My Little Pony. You see? I have a problem. ‘Cause that’s a lot of shows. I’m legitimately addicted to television. But even when I force myself not to turn on the TV I just end up scouring the internet. So TV isn’t the problem. Avoiding what I really want to do is the problem.
Because if I do what I want to do it will never come out right. Anytime I have done what I wanted to do, it has turned to shit by the time I took a second look. That’s the curse of the artist I guess. We’re our own worst enemies. So if you never try, you never have to fail. And I know that’s a lethargic way to live, but I comfort myself with the possibility, or perhaps delusion, that I’m not really that lazy, I’m just super anemic.