Grumpy Neem Makes Ravioli

Grumpy neem was very grumpy today.

Frustration after frustration made me very grumpy.  Usually, when I’m grumpy, I grump and be a workaholic.  I was talking to a friend on the phone today, and she said something to the extent that part of our identities was being the person who worked really hard all the time.  This conversation came up because I felt guilty when I came home and wasn’t doing work related to grad school.  It’s awful when you feel guilty for doing something fun like watch a movie or bake for a long time.  After that conversation, I resolved that I just wouldn’t feel guilty.  I had been wanting to make ravioli for a while, and so I decided today was the day.

Yes, the ravioli took hours.  It was entirely homemade.  I got to get out my pasta roller attachment for my beloved Kitchenaid mixer and use it again.  It felt awesome just being at home, in my kitchen, by myself, cooking something elaborate.  Let me tell you – it was delicious.  I have no regrets other than probably eating too much.

It’s weird to realize that I just work through bad moods.  By work, I mean be productive by other people’s standards. I think I’m not the only one that has this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’m being bad somehow when I’m not doing work.  It’s awful.  Honestly, there’s so much positive feedback for being a workaholic that it’s hard to disengage from that and realize that you’re miserable because you don’t get to do what you want to do.  I felt like making ravioli was a productive use of my time.  In grad school terms, it was a distraction from research.  Now, I know that I won’t get in trouble or whatever you want to call it, but it still feels like I was doing something wrong.

It is horrendous when you are doing something that makes you happy and it still feels somehow wrong.  What an awful way to live.  I guess at the core, it’s a battle of doing what makes you happy and doing what is productive for society.  Will making ravioli advance my career at all?  Probably not, unless I used it to bribe people.  In all seriousness, this feeling probably stems from a fear of failing because I didn’t do that one extra thing to push me over the top.  Sadly, there isn’t just *one* extra thing.  This feeds into the workaholism.  The open and endless nature of graduate school does not help either.  There’s always something else you should be doing.  No, scratch that, there’s something that you should have already done but didn’t, so to top it off, you’re behind.  Already.  I’m not sure I like the way that this ends.

Over break, I was rather blissfully happy, and I think a large part of it was segregating hours for focused work time and then feeling okay that the rest of the time was for relaxation.  I was still ridiculously productive (maybe even moreso than usual), but I was still happy.  It’s easier to do that during break though because it’s more acceptable to be on vacation.  Granted, I seem to not know how to truly be on vacation because I still did work… but I wish I could go back to that.  I’ll have to think on it more.  What I know for sure is that I don’t want to live life feeling like “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”  Yay Lewis Carroll for so elegantly stating that.

6 thoughts on “Grumpy Neem Makes Ravioli

  1. While this is still totally a workaholic point of view, this is how I read a book for fun and not feel guilty, so maybe it’ll help? Over break you were more productive you say? Perhaps it was because you were less stressed and more happy, there have been a lot of studies showing that people do better work and more efficient work when they are happy and unstressed. So therefore, while making pasta (almost typed paste, haha, not the same) doesn’t directly help the world, if it makes you happy and less stressed, it will therefore help you do better work more efficiently when you do feel up to going back to working, which could help the world because you could make some brilliant discovery you wouldn’t have thought of when you were stressed. In any case, doing things an hour or two a day (and sleeping and eating) that make you happy and less stressed is productive, and that’s why I don’t feel bad about reading for fun, and maybe if you think about it that way it’ll help you too?

    1. I usually use that kind of thinking to justify the time I spend hanging out with friends. It’s a bit hard for me to extend it to multiple activities though because it ends up being more than an hour or two a day and then I start to feel behind… But my point is, when was the last time you did nothing research- or class-related for the entire weekend and didn’t remotely feel guilty about it?

  2. Maybe it would be better to look at outcomes rather than process. Being more productive than usual (the outcome) while “on vacation” (the new process) vs your regular workworkwork schedule (the old process) indicates that you should change your process. Clearly, focused work hours, and more unstructured time improve your productivity outcomes. So what if this doesn’t conform to gradschool norms? Nobody needs to know, and seriously, nobody gives a shit.

  3. I FEEL YOU. I struggled with a variation of this so hard from middle school through college; I was overcommitted but also procrastinated, so there was always homework or another project hanging over me. I rarely let myself fully relax or do something fun without guilt, but I wasted plenty of time on Facebook or playing solitaire because I didn’t want to work. Once I graduated and switched to a 9-5 job, and cut back on extra commitments, it got so much better for me. I’ve noticed that when work gets really busy and I bring my computer home, I start to feel that same guilt and in-between-ness (not working, not relaxing). Having a routine of working at work* and not at home makes it easier to enjoy both.

    *I mean working for my job. There’s plenty of obligations at home, too, but they’re different.

    1. That’s pretty much exactly it. It’s that darn in-between-ness that bothers me so much! I do feel better though because you seem to totally understand what I’m talking about.

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