In the age of side hustles and instagram businesses, it’s hard to enter the realms of the internet without being bombarded by a mutual friend’s new venture. I may sound hypocritical, you are after all reading my blog (my own ‘side hustle’ in a sense). I don’t mean this is a bad way per se, it’s my dream to be able to work remotely and for myself and I think that it’s great that many people are looking to make a living beyond the conventional 9-5, but it’s when these ventures become the norm that I think we have an issue. If you don’t have a business venture that you spend your spare time on in the modern age then you’re seen as lazy by our generation of seemingly over-achievers.

I work over 40 hours a week (cue Dolly Parton), I spend most of my free time reading and writing for the creative writing course I’m currently doing with the University of Cambridge (lol, lil name drop), I try my best to create ‘content’ for my Instagram: @girlonpause (though I have no idea what I’m doing with it most of the time beyond taking a picture and posting it- algorithms am I right?), I’m currently editing my first novel, and in any spare minute I have in all of that I write the kind of blogpost that you are so kindly reading right now (don’t even try and throw my social life, attempts at exercise, and relaxation into the mix- although I do seem rather good at the last one!). I was speaking to a friend the other day who said that I could elevate Girl on Pause by looking into Search Engine Optimisation so I bought a book on SEO and started to research hashtags for Instagram as though I have an extra day in the week.

My point in this is not that I am extremely busy (although reading this back maybe I do need a good old fashioned holiday- remember those eh?), it’s that despite being busy I still feel like I’m being unproductive and often fall into guilty slumps because of it. I go back to work next week after having been furloughed since January and I had to knock some sense into myself for looking at these past 2 months with a wince. The weird little Goblin in my head (please read my blog Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts: How Talking To Yourself Might Be The Answer You Need if you don’t get that reference) has been having a real rant:

‘You’ve had 2 months you idiot. You should have started another book, you should have stockpiled multiple blogposts, you should have started running, you should have written all of your entries for the writing competitions, and you should have finished your assignment!’

Yeah well you know know what weird little goblin? I didn’t.

It’s ok to have a day curled up watching The Office, or to spend the whole day reading a book that has nothing to do with uni or SEOs or how to get published. It’s ok to spend time off, whether it’s a holiday, or furlough, or your WEEKENDS, actually relaxing. You don’t have to be productive 24/7. It’s great to explore your creativity in a side hustle or to work hard in making your dreams a reality, but don’t let yourself burnout at the expense of it all. Your mental health is important. We’re conditioned to think that being busy=productivity and therefore success, but there are many successes in this life and happiness, in my humble opinion, is the biggest success there is. If you needed a stranger on the internet’s permission to put down the laptop, or the pen, or the phone, and take a breath: this is it. It’s your life, make sure you enjoy it. As my Dad says: work to live, don’t live to work.

Until next time :)
Beth Brown.