The Agony of Getting Started

Lo and behold, my brief break from blogging turned into an entire summer (and then some). The last time I’ve published a post was in May, and it was about the trip to Iceland I made in February. These extremely timely reports brought to you by the Sloth… This time I cannot even blame being too busy with work or studying. I simply haven’t gotten around to it.

It’s not that I’m no longer interested in writing, quite the contrary: I’m constantly mulling over different ideas for new posts. What puts me off is when I’m actually supposed to sit down in front of a blank screen and start, even though I know writing only sucks for the first paragraph or so. After that, it would be smooth sailing. Usually, I build my text around images, so the very first thing I must do is go through hundreds of photos and pick a few of them decent enough to publish. Writer’s block hits me and photo editing begins to feel like an endless task. At the same time, I’m annoyed at my own inability to write down my thoughts, while tons of useless photos remain buried and forgotten on my laptop, taking up way too much space.

I have the same problem with handcrafts. I’ve been accumulating a massive stash of craft supplies over the past years, but finished projects are few and far between. Unlike with writing, at times I do manage to start my craft projects, but I will also move on to the next project long before I ever finish the previous one. There are boxfuls of half-made pieces laying around the apartment.

It may sound contradictory, but all in all I actually find myself a reasonably effective person: at work I have no trouble getting things done, I no longer spend all my spare time laying on the sofa but go outdoors instead, I keep our home clean and shiny, I travel, I study, I have hobbies. The only issue is with the things that require some kind of personal development from me.

Here’s a perfect example of my fine-tuned procrastination skills: one weekend I was supposed to finish the research plan of my Bachelor’s Thesis, and I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off for that. Three entire days to refine and finish the plan before the deadline on Monday. What did I really do?

  • Cleaned the entire apartment from top to bottom, including but not limited to wiping the kitchen walls and cupboards and washing every window
  • Made a bunch of new fridge magnets and used them to arrange all our random notes as symmetrically as possible
  • Googled how to bleach hair at home and unsuccessfully fried my hair into a dry, orangey mess
  • Caught hundreds of pokémon (Q: Who even plays Pokémon Go anymore? A: Me)
  • Went to the same Jacob Hashimoto exhibition for the fourth time
  • Climbed the mast of Suomen Joutsen

I did eventually scrape up the research plan, too, but only in the wee hours of Monday morning while wallowing in anxiety and self-pity. Had I not had the thesis deadline, I could be proud of all my weekend activities, but as it was, I just took procrastination to the extremes. The agony of getting started only seems to apply to projects requiring brainwork. So am I suffering from the pain of the creative process, or just from a lazy brain? Not sure.

I won’t even try to write about the things that happened during the summer. Instead, I’ll move on to the events of this Autumn. In June, I had an amazing hiking holiday in Poland and Slovakia, but I won’t revisit those warm memories until the upcoming, miserable months when sleet starts to hit the windows.

Seeking Balance: 2016 in Review

20160930_101355Autumn colours on the way home

I feared this would happen: my blog updates have been lagging far behind real time for quite a while now. Procrastination isn’t the only reason, though. The latter half of 2016, in all its insanity, was a bit of a blur for me.

20160914_211904Red Hot Chili Peppers @ Hartwall Arena 14th September 2016

Right now, this blog probably gives off the impression that all I ever do is travel. I wish! I was fortunate enough to get to go on multiple trips last year, sure. However, I spent the rest of the time buried in work and uni assignments. It wasn’t long before I got so tired that writing was bumped way back on my list of priorities.

IMG_2441The first oyster I’ve ever had at the Turku Food and Wine Fair in October. Might also be the last.

In between the couple of mini vacations I took in the summer, I was clocking in 50-60-hour work weeks. Some days I would do a morning shift at one workplace and bike directly to another place to finish with the evening shift. I am, of course, grateful I’ve had enough work to afford normal living, as well as some trips abroad. Some balance would be nice, though. Especially when working on a temp contract, it’s easy to start feeling like you have to accept every single offer ever thrown at you, as the situation could change at a moment’s notice. Greed lifts its head, and suddenly you find yourself practically living at work. Full days off fade into distant memory. I realize this is the life of so many business owners and I can only salute those who can deal with it on a regular basis. I only lasted for a couple of months.

20161011_211246Passenger @ Helsinki House of Culture 11th October 2016

Uni kicked off again in September. I was no longer working full hours, but there was never a question how to spend my little time off. Lectures filled up my days, work and independent assignments took up most evenings. The famous concept of having some time for yourself was hazy, at best.

2016-11-10 20.33.32Operation Sigar @ E. Ekblom

20161126_234353“Best Before”: Pre-Christmas party in Tampere

Crazy hours at work could actually be manageable, as long as the colleagues and customers were nice and things went smoothly. Towards the end of the year, there were some radical changes at my workplace, which completely changed how I felt about the whole thing. In summer I was always happy to leave for work despite being tired, whereas later that year the mere thought of another shift put a nasty knot in my stomach. Morale was low and anxiety high. I was still studying at the same pace with everyone else, but at the same time my weekly working hours started creeping over 30 again. In practice, I would bike like the wind directly from the last afternoon lecture to get to work in time. After work, I would bike home, take a shower and go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t take its toll on my studies.

IMG-20161008-WA0001Hard to stress about work when you can’t feel your legs – thanks to this heavy beast!

In January, I switched jobs and suddenly going to work feels nice again. I do have fewer shifts than I did in the autumn, which naturally means less money, too. Here’s to the age-old dilemma: when you’ve got money there’s no time left to spend it, and when you’ve got time you cannot afford to do much. Right now, a friendly atmosphere more than compensates for the slight drop of income for me.

20161210_155620Back to Tampere: Pre-Christmas Party vol. II

For the first time since I began my studies, I finally have enough time to finish all my assignments. In the autumn, I usually only spent about 15 minutes on independent studying after work and barely managed to pass my courses. Now I could easily pass hours just revising. I might finally even learn something, maybe? It feels strange to have most evenings free of scheduled stuff. I finally have the chance to devote some time to my hobbies, too, but I’m not quite used to this radical change of pace. I guess I went from one extreme to the other.

20161224_134004Cat or sloth? Christmastime in Pargas

In a way, I have come full circle and back to square one. I originally wanted to start writing a blog in order to get myself motivated to do things. Then I got so busy I had no more time left for writing. In the beginning of this year I returned to my sloth-shaped dent in the sofa, and days started slipping by just like last spring. Now would be a good time to come up with something new to try and write about. The year changed, but I’m still seeking balance.

2017-01-01 00.40.151 January 2017 00:00

These pictures are of all the fun things that happened last year that I never had time to cover. Starting 2017 with a clean slate!