“Make Yourself Necessary”
How I’m Doing These Exhausting Days
I struggle out of bed, almost snoozing Mama’s morning call. My sister texts me asking if i’m awake. After some yogurt for breakfast, eventually I plop myself in front of my laptop with a full mug of coffee. Just a few emails, I tell myself. I’ll scan my notifications, and then only the essay today. nothing else. A whole day goes by again, then I’m tired after dinner. I spent eight hours trying to start my research essay today. How does that happen?
I’ve been trying to start the past three days.
I know i’m not alone in this, not the only one trying to rethink productivity or barely maintaining self-regulation.
But how does this fucking happen?
Am I still trying if I’m not staring blankly at my word processor? If I’m stress-checking my newsfeed but helping share calls to action? If I use all my energy closing my tabs, somehow feeling the need to examine everything that’s opened? I am spending too many days trying to produce a shamefully overdue six-page research paper. Why can’t I just do it?
Why can’t I just do it? Ever the struggle.
When asked how I’m doing these days, I half-jokingly announce that I haven’t been to therapy in a while, that I’m fighting my constant fear of missing out, coping with my recovering perfectionist performer, that I want validation and feel burdensome to ask for it. I subscribe to newsletters, bookmark tweets and articles I may not ever read, register for more webinars than I have the capacity to engage with, while this goddamn paper is still to be written.
How does an alternative filmmaker of colour balance personal expression, formal innovation, and social obligation in their work? I finally have a working thesis.
I had this question already but struggled to find my focus. Eventually I admit this to my parents, who are appalled I only got this far. I’d been vague about my progress for fear of judgement; they’d been waiting to celebrate once I finally finish my degree.
I wanted to write about recently discovering my grandpa’s motto: Make yourself necessary. Key to success. Baba has referred to it a lot lately when discussing our inconsiderate family friend overstaying their welcome, or my sister navigating unhealthy power dynamics at work.
I know I don’t have to be on the frontlines to be useful. I also don’t have to be ‘necessary’, especially if I don’t have the capacity. I’m not god.
Maybe what I really want is to prove I’m worthy.
To do the ‘right’ thing. Say the ‘right’ thing. Educate. Improve the lives of those around me without resorting to a saviour complex. Improve my own life, establish a healthier routine.
Maybe I’m stuck because I feel pressured to have my own position figured out. To have the world figured out.
I want to thrive, but how?
Drafted at a Firefly Creative Writing workshop