In the past months, I’ve noticed a pattern of behavior that I never really thought about before –my tendency to check out library books en masse when I’m getting over-tired, fatigued, and overwhelmed.
I also tend to start projects, just because they seem interesting to me in the moment and they get my mind off my troubles… not because I actually plan to follow through and complete them.
I first noticed this for real, in February of this year. From my self-assessment form I filled on on February 6, 2008, I wrote:
I’m drawn to library books, and impulsively check them out, loading up on lots of them. I also impulsively start on a lot of research projects and other projects.
The intensity of my desire to check out lots of library books or start projects was about 3/10 that day, and the impact of it was 7/10, because while the intensity wasn’t that great, it still was very disruptive to my regular life.
From my sheet:
I went to the library today, but I just looked through some of them, rather than checking them out. I returned a book I wasn’t reading. I also sat down and looked at what projects I can realistically complete, and which ones are just interesting/compelling to me at this time.
I managed to get rid of a book, rather than bringing in more.
Now, it might not seem like a huge deal, but this was a big revelation for me. Here, all this time, I had been thinking that I was studying and doing things that would ultimately bear fruit and enrich my life, but it was really just to distract myself and soothe my intense emotions that were coming up because I was fatigued, and I was too tired to realized that I was fatigued.
This is one of the issues of self-awareness that I often face — I won’t realize till later that what I’m doing is not really productive, and I’m actually doing it for a very different reason than what I tell myself.
Discovering this has, since last February, made it possible for me to not only identify the things that I am really interested in doing, because they are important, but also to pace myself and not drive myself so frantically, just because I’m fatigued, and I don’t know it.
Well, as long as no one is getting hurt, checking out library books isn’t the worst way to deal with my stress. But a long nap would be more constructive.
Speaking of which, I am tired. Time for my nap.