You Are Not Lazy

If you’re like me, the word “lazy” is a hot button. Maybe you got called that a lot as a child. Maybe much of your adult life has been acting out against that label, to prove it wrong, or... maybe that’s just me. But maybe you are like me and you heard it way too many times growing up. “Lazy, lazy, lazy.”

Then came aging and experience.

As I’ve matured I’ve come to realize that nobody is lazy. I should qualify that… nobody is lazy when it comes to something they care about. Not meeting that deadline that looms ever closer? Maybe it’s because it’s something you really don't enjoy doing, and therefore have no patience for. Working a job you hate? Maybe it’s because you care so deeply about what (or who) you’re working it for. Not writing that great American novel? Maybe it’s because you think you should, not because you actually want to.

Lazy is the opposite of caring. When we care, we do.

I’m an illustrator (along with all my other labels). A good friend of mine used to work in cut paper. I couldn’t imagine going through the intricate stages it took her to draw, finalize, create the papers, and cut every single little piece. For her, it was therapy. For me, even though I do the same sort of process with my digital art, it would have been excruciating. As another friend said about cross-stitching, yet another exercise I have no patience for, “When I cross-stitch, the whole world just becomes those little squares.” It was therapy.

People have told me that I’m patient, especially with my art, or my writing, or with with my students. They’ve said I'm not lazy… and I relish the declaration. But it’s only true when it comes to those things, because those are the things I care about. And for them, I will never have enough time and never put in enough effort. Whereas for somebody else, it might be drudgery.

But I’m lucky. I know what it is I care about - I know what I want. I'm convinced most people go through life never knowing what that is - never knowing what would truly fill their soul. Knowing what you want is, in itself, a gift to be cherished and nourished. Because knowing what you really want will drive you - you will work for it and never feel (or seldom feel) like you are working at all. It will feed you more than drain you. People will call you anything but lazy as you pursue that deep desire with the work ethic of a stubborn ox.

So, if you feel inclined to label somebody as lazy (even yourself), I’ll bet the real problem is, they haven’t figured out what it is they care about yet, what they really want - that activity that lights their creative spirit on fire. Caring motivates us. Deep caring drives us to action. And in those activities, we could never be labeled as lazy.

So if lazy is a label people assign to you, or that you perhaps even assign yourself, maybe it's time to reevaluate. Ask yourself, ‘What do I really care about—what do I really want.’ And be honest. You may find that whatever you’re doing is supporting those things more strongly than you originally thought. And if they’re not… then maybe it’s time to think about doing something else – something that you will have imminent patience for – something you really want and for which you would never be called lazy.

Learn more about my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in e-versions, and in print May 7th! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.


Daffodil Cards said...

Oh! how wonderful to hear I'm not lazy, I was always called it as a child, because I wouldn't finish things.

Now, a LOT older, I am being perceived as patient and can cut tiny bits of paper for my cardmaking.

Perhaps if I had known about it when I was a child, I would have been busy all the time,

Thank you for this insight I will put this on my blog with your permission.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Hi Faith, I'm so glad my article resonated with you! Please just link to the URL at rather than copy/paste the article to your site. Thanks! :) e

Valerie said...

So true; I feel energized when I'm working on something I'm passionate about, and downright lethargic when I don't care about what I'm doing. Thank you for articulating this so well!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

You're most welcome Valerie! Embrace your un-laziness! :) e