I think about time a lot. I’m a full-time librarian (in training), a part-time graduate student, and a human who needs to eat and sleep. I think about the hours I spend commuting (too many) and the hours I spend with my loved ones (too few). I think about how long it will take to read that article, or respond to that email, or write that paper.
Time (or lack of it) is usually at the front of my mind.
But when you get so wrapped up thinking about how busy you are, it becomes really easy to waste the precious moments you do have. About a year ago, I realized that I had become so obsessed with being busy that I was too overwhelmed to do anything but work, sleep, repeat. My free time was spent either stressing about all the things I had to do, or mindlessly surfing the internet on autopilot. All this vegging out was actually making me more miserable. I’d walk away feeling tense, unproductive, and not at all rejuvenated for work and school.
Several years before this, I had started getting back into needlework. My grandmother taught me how to embroider and quilt when I was young, but I barely picked up a needle all through high school and college–I was always too busy. Even when I started back up, I viewed sewing as a guilty pleasure, something I snuck in when I was supposed to be doing more important work. As I started grad school and working, a weird thing happened: I grew to love stitching more and more, while simultaneously also feeling more and more guilty about spending time crafting when I could be reading extra articles or researching thesis topics. I became so torn that I eventually reached a point where I wasn’t crafting or working. Instead, I was just sitting and overthinking everything.
Luckily, this limbo didn’t last forever, and I finally had an epiphany: crafting is not a guilty pleasure. In fact, it’s an essential part of my mental health and happiness. Once I stopped seeing crafting through guilt goggles, I could finally reap all the benefits of it. By making time to immerse myself in crafting (even if only for a few minutes each night), I was giving myself permission to relax, to be creative, and to just take a break from everything. It helped that around this same time I started an awesome new job that I absolutely love, working with supportive people who advocate the kind of self-care I was just discovering.
I’ve never been busier than I have this past year, but I’ve also never been happier. A big part of this is the fact that I find my work in an academic library intellectually and personally fulfilling. I feel challenged and supported in my work and professional development. I have family and friends who make me laugh and remind me that there is so much good in the world. But crafting has also played a huge role in my new attitude. Making time to make means making time for myself; making time to stop, reflect, and refresh. It’s not easy, and I still fall into periods where I start obsessing over time. But the more I commit to making time to make, the more I find myself enjoying my time instead of just counting it.