Tick, tock, the clock strikes done

An anonymous writer describes the stress and isolation associated with constant connectivity and juggling many commitments at once

 

Silence, mental health, isolation, censorship: By Sarah Morel

COMMENT

 

“Chest tightens, heart throbs, throat closes up. I need to run to the beach and turn off my phone, but I can’t, I have things to do.”

 

I feel like a puppet, there are a million strings coming from me; family, friends, sports, societies, college, work, duties, obligations, and more. The strings are pulling in all directions, and I am trying to stay in the middle. It’s a balancing act. And normally this works. At the end of each string lies good and bad. I would not have attached myself to the string had I not wanted to. I love my strings, they are what define me. But I can’t be pulled too far in one direction, or the other strings will become strained, and risk detaching. What happens when one string starts pulling that little bit stronger, demanding that bit extra?

 

Chest tightens, heart throbs, throat closes up. I need to run to the beach and turn off my phone, but I can’t, I have things to do. That’s ok, I signed up for these things, and I feel better after I have done them. But it affects your mood, and it is not fair on anyone. Head up.

 

Time is a rotten concept

Depression-original

I try to explain that I can’t give in to that extra demand, I don’t have the time. This is not because I am going out partying tonight, or because I want to do something else more fun. I don’t have that time to give, because if I give it to you, that means I have to take it from someone else. I am doing my best, trust me, I don’t have any more to give. I could give you that extra time, but that will cost someone else. Tick, tock. Nobody is happy.

 

I hate saying that I don’t have the time. It is hard to say no. But there is a difference between not having time, and not making time. If I need to make time, a way can be found. But sometimes, I can’t find a way. It is not a testament to you, or that I am not bothered by you. It’s not that I would rather do something better. Tick, tick, tick. There is no choice involved in not having time to find, there is no joy in saying that I am not free this week, or next week for that matter. It does not make you feel good. I want to be there. I feel guilty for not being there.

 

I hate the concept of time. Phones, watches, clocks, meetings, classes, lunch dates, rendez-vous. Every hour is clocked. I am held ransom to my planner. On Monday I can tell you where I will be at each hour on the coming Friday. There is no flexibility, no room to manoeuvre. No spontaneous pints.

 

I can’t do it all, I am not superwoman. Nor can you, you also have other things to do. If you tell me you cannot make it, that’s fine, you don’t need to explain yourself, you don’t need an excuse. I should have enough trust and respect for you to just accept that you are busy and can’t find the time right now. Same goes for you when I say I can’t make it. There is no need for subtle digs. I do what I can. I can’t do anymore.

 

The Adverse Effects of Time

 

“You want to throw your phone at the wall, and just be present. We are struggling, yet we are privileged to have so much in our lives.”

 

Panic and paranoia. I want to do my best at everything, but my best is not the same as your best. We have different strings, some have more, some have less. Nobody knows what anyone else has going on in their life. My facebook is not a diary, some things do not go online.

 

Self doubt manifests itself in a constant worry that you are not doing enough, even though there is nothing more to give. Calm down, relax.

 

I am not alone here. People are always stressed, always running from one thing to the next. My chest tightens as I write this. It’s an underlying stress that hibernates, until one day you crack. You know what I’m talking about, you have had those days too. You want to throw your phone at the wall, and just be present.

 

We are struggling, yet we are privileged to have so much in our lives. We don’t feel like we can admit our struggle, we would feel guilty for complaining about the good things. So how can we help ourselves to cope better?

 

Learning to cope

 

“Those who cope the best aren’t blessed with a superpower, they don’t have an extra 6 hours per day. They are aware of themselves, of what they are doing, and consciously take the time to breathe each week.”

 

Emotional intelligence is being able to understand your emotions. Understanding your feelings, why you have them, what they mean. Being able to respond and to cope. It is being confident in yourself and your decisions, as compared to yourself alone, and not others. It is well used to proactively deal with the stressful days.

 

Those who cope the best aren’t blessed with a superpower, they don’t have an extra 6 hours per day. They are aware of themselves, of what they are doing, and consciously take the time to breathe each week. In a 7 day week, there needs to be an off day. Out of 24 hours in a day, there needs to be an off hour. The ones who cope are the ones who master their emotional intelligence, and use to keep themselves afloat. It tells them when the balance is struck, and when the scales is tipping.

 

It is something we could all do better. Our self worth is valued by how good we are things. But we fear failure, often thinking we have failed as human beings, letting this one failure take over everything. Not everyone around you can be pleased, there is simply not enough of a single person to give a part of themselves to everyone. This is not failure. You gave your best.

 

Perspective

“In a digital age, we are always connected, it is easy and immediate. But it is not necessary. Every minute we spend on a screen is a minute deprived of those in your company, and for what?”

 

The key, is to being able to accept that, and not let it stress us out. You should not allow a lack of time result in you wasting your time stressing about the fact that you do not have enough time for everything, which is in fact the very reason you are stressed in the first place. A circular problem.

 

Time induced stress. Is anyone free for lunch? Anyone around? Sorry I’m busy. Sorry in the library. Sorry I just ate. What about a bite to eat later? Oh no, I have plans. I have to get up early tomorrow. When are you free, I can be flexible, what suits you? Never. I’ll get back to you next month. I’m sorry.

 

In a digital age, we are always connected, it is easy and immediate. But it is not necessary. Every minute we spend on a screen is a minute deprived of those in your company, and for what? We snap the moment rather than enjoy it, and someone watches your snap of you “enjoying” a moment, rather than enjoying their own moment. Again, it’s circular.

 

Time. 24 hours in a day. 8 hours on sleep, just to function well. 10 to recuperate, maybe once every 10 days. Averaging about 7 hours. Leaving about 16 to do it all. Plenty of time, isn’t it? Not really. I have more than 9 strings attached to me, divide that into 16. Not much time left. And this doesn’t include time to relax. We do not attach a relax string.

 

But maybe we should start. And make that string a priority. If you don’t prioritise yourself, then who will? Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir.

 

Main image illustration by Sarah Morel

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Editors





Niamh Lynch
news@trinitynews.ie
Kelly McGlynn
features@trinitynews.ie
Michael Foley
comment@trinitynews.ie
Katarzyna Siewierska
scitech@trinitynews.ie
Clare McCarthy
sport@trinitynews.ie

Illustration

Aisling Crabbe
Natalia Duda
Sarah Morel
Mike Dolan
John Tierney
Naoise Dolan
Sarah Larragy
Mubbashir Ali Sultan
Nadia Bertaud
Daniel Tatlow

Photography

Kevin O'Rourke
Ines Niarchos
Huda Awan