Cultivating Self-Fulfillment in a Hyper-Productive World
Last updated: December 2021
One thing I’ve learned through coming out of remission and adopting other symptoms the last two years is this: people are obsessed with productivity. Many people hold such high standards for themselves in a toxic way—only finding value within themselves through packing their planners with as many to-do’s as possible. For those of us who are chronically ill, sometimes living a highly productive life can be impossible.
It’s all anyone ever wants to talk about
As I’m sure many of you can relate, I spend much of my time in the confines of my bedroom glued to my heating pad and using my one remaining brain cell to muster up the courage to get up and get ready for the day. Anything I do with my day after that is a huge win as more often than not I don’t have energy left to do much else.
When living like this started to become routine, it wasn’t long until I noticed that all anyone ever wants to talk about is work, work, work. “What do you do?”, “Are you going to college?”, “Where do you work?” It’s like people define others purely based on their profession and how “successful” you are in your line of work.
It can make conversations with others dreadful and traumatizing
I immediately become uncomfortable not because I’m embarrassed of how I live my life, but more so because of how others react when I talk about my situation. The moment I mention how I rely on disability payments and can barely function on a day-to-day basis, you can notably see how uncomfortable and awkward they feel because, well, they don’t know how to react.
How could they when they’ve been conditioned to feel value and fulfilled through work and how much they accomplish in a day?
I’ve learned to switch the narrative and find fulfillment in other ways
Just because this is how society has been conditioned to feel fulfillment, doesn’t mean it has to be this way for you. I feel most fulfilled through reading, creating art, writing, and even doing something as simple as going for a walk.
I also feel fulfilled after talking with a friend about the meaning of life or other deeper conversations—conversations that reach further than just surface-level issues. I’ve learned that there is more to life than this, and that self-fulfillment is subjective.
Not everyone is going to see things the way you do
Through learning to live a slower-paced lifestyle and find self-fulfillment and value through my own definition of accomplishments, and that there’s more to life than working a 9 to 5, I’ve had many people roll their eyes or disagree with this mindset. Thinking this way definitely challenges the ways in which others have been brought up to view themselves. In a capitalistic world, money is power. And if you aren’t contributing in some way–you aren’t seen as valuable. This just simply isn’t true.
Create your own definition of self-fulfillment. You are more than your profession. You are more than how much money you make. You are more than your accomplishments. You are human, and you are valuable.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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