On Self-Induced Stress

So many things to do, so little time.

I have been feeling that way probably since I started kindergarten.

Some famous person whose name I have long forgotten once said something to the effect of “to be successful, one must do everything with a sense of urgency,” and it has pretty much been my motto for the past 20 or so years.

Well, I’m not sure if I’m being successful – there are people much more successful than I am who also seem to be enjoying their life a lot more, and also, you know, have a life? What I AM sure though, is that I am a lot more stressed out than most other people, ALL THE TIME. And it’s not fun.

It’s very rare that I sit down and watch TV for more than 10 minutes, or have 2 hours long afternoon tea, or not rush through a meal.

In my mind, there is always something more important to do, something more worthy of my time, or something that would be more productive use of my time. I always feel guilty after indulging in any kind of “non-productive” activity. Always.

And the funny thing is, I don’t really HAVE to do those things. When I was in school, I thought it was school. Sure, engineering school is pretty stressful, and there are things we have to do, so I never thought about it too much. Life will be good once I graduate.

And then we graduated… and I found that I’m not any less stressed out now than I was before. I simply found more things to keep myself busy. Flying, learning a new instrument, trying to build a few electronics projects, making things, learning new technical things, martial arts, etc.

Perhaps a little ironically, most of those things I am deeply passionate about, and thoroughly enjoy doing… it’s just that for some reason, they all slowly pile up to become this huge monster. They all slowly turn into obsessions, and I can’t pull myself away from them.

It probably also doesn’t help that for some reason, it feels like I’ve always been able to learn most things faster than most people, and with less effort, so when I’m not progressing as fast as I think I should be, I feel guilty and try harder. Most people would think that’s a good thing… but trust me it’s not. It’s borderline destroying my life as we speak.

Taking the viola as an example – I started learning the viola about 3 months ago, and have already gone through 1.5 books, which, by most standards, is pretty fast. That doesn’t stop me from obsessing over it though. It always feel like I can progress faster if I just practiced a little more, and watched TV a little less (less than the 0 hours a day I watch TV on average now? I don’t know), or stared out the window a little less. I would often pick up the viola just before bed time, and just play everything pizzicato for as long as I can (plucking strings instead of bowing, to avoid waking up neighbours), because somehow it feels like going to bed early is a waste of valuable time. Though for some reason, that doesn’t seem to apply to wake up time… hmm.

It feels like I am something I can never live up to, or ever satisfy. And it sucks.

Is this some kind of complex or something?

I need to start dropping things, and just accept that I don’t have time for them. It always subconsciously feel like something bad will happen if I do that. If I “fail” at something. Even though rationally, I know it doesn’t make sense.

Sorry this post is a little dark. Not suicidal. Promise :).