Are you lazy? What does that even mean?

Dear Alma,

Am I lazy? Am I not doing enough? Then why do I feel like a failure? Those were the questions you asked me during our last conversation. At first, I was befuddled. How? Why? How did you come to ask yourself those questions? I blurted a quick no, of course not! We did not have much time to go deeper but here is what I wish I could have told you in that moment.

I see you. I see you working yourself to exhaustion. I see you not giving yourself any excuse, I see you being so hard on yourself that I am amazed you can still stand on your two feet. I see you giving it your all and I’m cheering for you. While cheering though, I can’t help but wonder. Do you ever catch a break? Do you ever show grace to yourself and decide today is a good day to just rest?

Before you tell me that you can’t afford it, hear me out.

I see you and I desperately try to have a glimpse at the shining, vibrant, young woman full of dreams that you once were. Your eyes used to be so full of life, and laughter was never far from you. Now they are heavy with unspoken pain, sadness, fear and doubt. They tell the story of someone so battered by life that it’s hard to believe you once were carefree.

Is that why you can’t allow yourself to take a break? Are you running away from facing the reality of your life? Or are you so aware of that reality that in an attempt to change the narrative you keep yourself occupied? Going from one project after the other in a hope to catch that big break? The one that will finally allow you to rest?

I can’t fault you. We do what we can and, in a world, where struggles have been associated with laziness and/or poor choices, I understand your drive. If people, see how motivated and busy you are then it might spare you of the stigma.

You and I have been fed on the grind culture discourse, where our value is based on our productivity. Inversely if you are not busy, you are deemed lazy and thus not worthy of anything good. But is that so? Should it be so? Should someone’s worth be defined by how busy they are?

But what is even laziness, how is it evaluated? Today we assume that if you are not able to pay your bills, if you are lacking in any way, barely surviving, if you do not fit the image of success, then you must be lazy. We are quick to point at people’s perceived fault’s instead of having a hard look at the machine working against us. Anyway, I digress.

Dear friend, you are one of the most hardworking woman I’ve ever known. But the more I see you going at it, the more I’m afraid we might lose you. When was the last time you really slept? When was the last time work and various obligations did not interfere with you trying to unwind for two minutes? I can bet that at this very moment your jaws are clenched. Tensed, constantly under pressure. But pressure from who, from what?

Allow me to be blunt for a moment. I know you can’t afford to rest, but I also know we can’t afford to lose you. What good would it be to us, if we lost you? what good would it be if the very people for which you are always on the move did not have a chance to sit with you, to enjoy your presence?

If you don’t hit the brakes now, I’m afraid we might lose you. In fact, it almost already feels like it. I see anxiety slowly creeping on you, I see you lacking joy and passion. What once brought you joy has now become a burden, another task you must cross out of your to-do list.

Alma I see you rushing, I see you running, and I can’t help but wonder what is the point. Do you even remember why you are doing the things that you do? Do you remember the reasons of your dedication?

I’m cheering for you, but I’m worried as well. I worry that in an effort to escape the rat-race, you got yourself stuck in it wheels. I wonder if in your desire to build your dream life, you’ve let life pass you by. I’m scared that in your desire to have a better future, you have jeopardized both your present and your future.

You do not sleep, you barely eat, you’ve cut yourself from friends and in a desire to live a focused life, the things that use to make life enjoyable to you, you’ve now deemed them a waste of your time.

Dear friend tell me, do you still genuinely smile? When was the last time you had a wholehearted laugh? When last did you take the day off and indulge in the things that bring you pleasure. When last, did you go on a date with yourself?

Do you still hear your inner voice? Do you know Alma? Are you attune to the changes she’s being going through? Are you aware of her needs? Have tried to meet them?

Can you hear your inner voice whispering: Alma I am tired. I’ve been trying to tell you that through different signals. Do you remember those body aches that you managed to ignore? it was me. The sleepless nights without any good reasons? it’s me. The mood swings? it’s me sending a resounding cry of distress. I am tired and I need you to rest, or we are both going to crash down and there is no telling if we will ever recover.

Beloved, you can’t keep going like this. You can’t keep running. The dreams you once had were never intended to kill you. They were meant to infuse life into you not slowly and ruthlessly sucking at whatever remnant of life you still have. If that is going to be the main result, I beg of you let them go.

Before it’s too late, take a break. You see the miles yet to be completed, but have you watched how far you’ve gone? Have you acknowledged and celebrated your accomplishments to date?

Retreat, take a step back, listen to yourself, and only when you are fully rested will you be able to move forward. Resting is not a sign of laziness or weakness. Indeed, in a world where we are all conditioned to always be busy, it is a sign of strength to be able to say no to the pressure.

Breathe dear friend. Lay down and just breathe.

With love always.

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