How to know if you need a break or if you’re just being lazy

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It’s been nearly two months since I’ve written a blog article.

Granted, they haven’t been the most smooth sailing two months, and I haven’t taken a break since I started writing for The Daily Californian’s blog department. I knew I needed a break, but after a few weeks without writing, I began to feel the growing sensation that burnout wasn’t the only roadblock keeping me from blogging.

Presumably, once I had somewhat regained control of my school and personal life, I should have been ready to take on all of my other responsibilities — such as blogging. But, the reality was that I really didn’t want to. I didn’t even want to try. I looked everywhere for the drive that I had felt all of last semester, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Despite hating myself for having lost sight of that drive, I did nothing but distract myself from the mere thought of sitting down to write an article.

It wasn’t just a loss of motivation, but intense fear.

I’m a recovering perfectionist. I promised myself a long time ago that I’d no longer let my perfectionism hold me back from working toward my goals. I was making a lot of progress, too. I’d gotten into a sort of rhythm with my writing, and I was starting to let go of my insecurities and find joy in it. However, once I took a break from blogging, it was hard to remember what that felt like. All I could remember was the worrying.

By giving myself a break from writing, I had simultaneously given myself a break from agonizing over my word choice, the flow of my writing and the message behind my words. Once I gave myself a complete break from the worrying, it felt impossible to go back.

I would never call myself a lazy person. Yet, laziness is often rooted in neurotic fear — some people deal with fear by fighting the thoughts, and others just freeze. I froze.

Eventually, I found myself worrying about other things beyond my usual perfectionist tendencies. What if I couldn’t remember how to write articles? What if I couldn’t keep up with the workload? How much work would I have to do to make up for all the time I’d lost?

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this lack of drive.

When I was in high school, I wanted to start an after-school tutoring club called BestBuds for students with disabilities. As I got closer to actually going through with it, the piercingly loud voice in my head told me I wasn’t ready. It tormented me, convincing me I wasn’t ready, hadn’t done enough preparation or wasn’t capable. During that time, I found myself joining random clubs or working on distant assignments as a mechanism to escape the task that scared me most.

To this day, whenever I’m asked about what happened to my initiative, I claim I was too overwhelmed with schoolwork. I wasn’t exactly lying; at the time, I had managed to convince myself that I really was too busy.

COVID-19 came around, and I never got to go through with the idea. I felt like a failure, and I don’t want that to ever happen again.

You may be experiencing this in some area of your life, too. Maybe you’ve been falling behind in schoolwork, a personal project  or even staying in touch with friends and family. And that’s OK: It will pass.

It’s not going to be easy getting back on track. Writing this article sure wasn’t easy, but I ultimately knew it would make me feel good about myself. If you genuinely need a break, then allow yourself to take the time to recharge. But if your laziness comes from a lack of motivation, you’ll know it deep down.

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].