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Nothing Days: A Reflection of 2021

Of Nothing Days and Working Days

Sometimes I look back on last year and think, I didn't really do much. Most of the days were spent in my room, working online and making some art. It felt monotonous like I was doing the same things every day. It feels like I haven't done much, didn't accomplish much and was unproductive for most of the year. Days blurred together and in a blink, the year ended. And in typical me fashion, I panicked, because what did I even do this year?


The answer: I did a lot! Like, a lot a lot. Like, how did I fit all of that in one year?


I did a practicum at a shelter, working with children and youth. I co-created not one, but two expressive arts therapy groups: a 9 weeks Anxiety, Anger & Depression for Chinese Youth and a 7 weeks Aromantic & Asexual Therapy Support Group. I finished my third year of training as an Expressive Arts Therapist. I created 3 websites this year, which I never thought I could do since I suck at technology! I started my own private practice, Rainy Days Therapy. in May last year and all the advertising and management things that go with running a business and private practice. I started this blog. I began a Master's in September. I participated as a panellist in a Mental Health for the BIPOC Community at the University of Toronto. I ran 2 Tell Your Queer Story Workshops this year. I started my own shop, Rainy Days Art Shop, selling some art prints I've made throughout the year. I am now a Board Member in my professional association. I did all of this while juggling two jobs! And this was all just work/professional-related things.


I have to wonder, why do I feel like I didn't do much? Why does it feel like I didn't accomplish anything? Why is it, that after all of this, I still think I'm in the same place? It begs the question: Why do I ignore all the things I've done, and only focus on all the things I didn't or wasn't able to do?


I don't have clear answers to that. I'm trying to unpack that as well. But I think this is something that many people experience as well. Perhaps, as a society, we are socialized into doing more, accomplishing things, moving on to the next task without looking back. Perhaps I've always been told about the things I should do, and rarely acknowledged for the things I have done. Maybe the way I view myself is skewed towards negative, of how lazy I am when I wasted some days by doing nothing. Nothing being relative here: I watched a lot of shows and made a lot of art, but they weren't what society would accept as "productive".


I actually had more time than that list of things I did implies. There were days, even a week or two where I didn't have any obligations. I didn't have meetings or school. On those days, I cleaned my room, watched shows on Netflix, read manga and novels, made art, and sometimes I just lay in bed for most of the day. It's these "nothing days" that surface whenever I reflect on 2021. It's ideas of "Wow, I spent a whole weekend just lying in bed. I'm so lazy." or "I've already watched Avatar: The Last Airbender 5 times, I didn't need to watch it again. Couldn've done something else". It's thoughts like these that linger. These thoughts are basically telling me I've wasted my time and I could've been more.


But here's the thing: I don't think I would've been able to do all that I did in 2021 without those "Nothing Days". Those days were days I used for myself: to recharge, to have fun, to contemplate, to socialize and relax. I gave myself time to breathe and destress. It was because of prioritizing my own mental wellbeing, my self-care routines, that I don't feel burnt out. I had the energy to do all the things, and I had fun while doing it! It was all really exciting and I found joy in doing them! I was able to welcome 2022 without being drained and dreading all the obligations I signed up for.


My Nothing Days are just as important as my productive days, and sometimes, my brain needs to be reminded of that. I need to stop and take a look at the things I have accomplished instead of all the things I failed to do. I need to remember that there are no wasted days or wasted time. It's a change in perspective.


Doing nothing is actually doing something, and nothing is what allows time for the somethings.



* * *

Nothing Days: A Poem

My Nothing Days are just as important as my productive days,

I gave myself time to breathe and destress.

It feels like I haven't done much, didn't accomplish much and was unproductive for most of the year.

And in typical me fashion, I panicked, because what did I even do this year?


My Nothing Days are just as important as my productive days,

I gave myself time to breathe and destress.

Why do I feel like I didn't do much? Why does it feel like I didn't accomplish anything? Why is it, that after all of this, I still think I'm in the same place?

These thoughts are basically telling me I've wasted my time and I could've been more.

I didn't really do much.


My Nothing Days are just as important as my productive days,

I gave myself time to breathe and destress.

Maybe the way I view myself is skewed towards negative, of how lazy I am when I wasted some days by doing nothing.

It was because of prioritizing my own mental wellbeing, my self-care routines, that I don't feel burnt out.

Doing nothing is actually doing something, and nothing is what allows time for the somethings.



* A poem using the bolded phrases*

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