The Benefits of Wasting Time

Not being in school has forced me to take a long, hard look at how I spend my time. Since I’m not in class half the time or working on homework, all my time has been spent how I would have spent my “free” time while I was in school. And to a lot of people, myself including, that looks a lot like wasting time.

I’ve come to the realization that wasting time isn’t such a bad thing, especially not when you spend it doing the things you love. Yeah, I may be watching “too much” TV and spending long afternoons reading and a lot of time on Tumblr and be writing things that currently have no importance, but these are things I genuinely love to do. These are things that make me happy, relax me, and keep my head above water.

In university, you may feel like you never have spare time. What little time you do have for yourself is probably spent catching up on shows (which can be its own kind of stressful), reading the five novels you need to finish for English, or worrying about the hundreds of things you’re currently not doing. Hence, even the time you do waste is spent tense, anxious, and plagued with an inability to just relax.

And I know the feeling. I know what it’s like to spend a day away from your schoolwork and be worried the whole time that it means you’ll never finish X assignment or pass Y quiz. I know what it is to worry that your best isn’t good enough, that taking any break isn’t worth it, and that when you look back on your decisions, you’ll know you made the wrong one.

Here’s the secret: it’s incredibly unlikely that you’re wasting any time at all.

When you take time for yourself, that time is important. That time will keep you sane. All those little things you love? You need to have time to do them and you need to allow yourself that time without it becoming another chore, another item on your to-do list, or something you’ll feel guilty about later.

Even if you’re studying your passion, there are things that school just can’t give you. Art students, I think, know this better than most. When you’re in the arts, you’re doing it for yourself and not for the money. But you’re probably being asked to write things you’re not passionate about, play songs you have no interest in learning, and paint things with arbitrary limits on them that you don’t want to use. Your passion is funneled into a school atmosphere and it can feel like it’s suffocating your creativity. This thing you love, this thing that you’re passionate about, suddenly becomes another mundane task.

Which is exactly why your own projects, your own passions, your own ideas are important. And why putting aside your schoolwork to do what you want to do is never wasting time.

People are going to tell you your whole life that doing this or that is a waste of time. But the truth of the matter is, you’re doing this or that for a reason. Look at what you’re doing. Look at what makes you happy. And ask yourself if there’s a way to make the things you’re doing in your spare time, the things you’re doing when you’re wasting time, an important part of your life. Because no one really wastes time. We do what makes us happy in the moments we steal for ourselves and shouldn’t we care about ourselves more than that? Shouldn’t we do the things that make us happy most of the time?

We need to stop looking at the moments where we’re relaxed and happy as failures. We need to stop calling it wasting time in the few moments when we genuinely feel like we’re working for ourselves. I believe we find ourselves in those moments. I believe those moments tell us who we really are.

So here’s your task: find something that makes you happy and make it your top priority. Stop putting what you love last. And I promise you you’ll be a lot happier.

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