Devil’s Workshop

001There’s this line in Foster the People’s “Waste” that goes “you know it’s funny how freedom / can make us feel contained” and it echoes my consistent mood of “freedom is limiting” that’s been going on for the past few weeks. When there’s no deadline for an assignment or a schedule to stick to, all sense of time vanishes and there is no immediate aim to fulfil. I mean, having time to relax and do absolutely nothing was an unattainable dream the entire time during A Levels, but now that I have it, it feels suffocating more than anything.

I used to fantasise about all the things I could do with ample free time, the stories/anecdotes I could write, the videos I could make, the books I could read, so much to the extent that despite the constant presence of heavy workloads during A Levels, I went ahead and did them anyway. There was reason to be motivated. The more I did what I was supposed to do, the more I felt assured to do what I wasn’t supposed to do and vice versa (also throw in a bit of rebellious reverse psychology in there).

But now that I literally foresee endless days of not doing anything, it frightens me. It’s like staring down an empty highway and it’s clear that the highway stretches on for miles and miles but you have no vehicular contraptions you can use to move forward faster; you can only walk. There’s nothing to look forward to, nothing to concentrate insane amounts of brain power and energy on. I mean, yeah, this leaves me plenty of room to read write and do whatever I want to do but it’s precisely because there is no foreseeable restrictions that makes the act of initiating something feel like lifting a ten tonne weight. It feels like 2012 post-SPM period all over again; having a very different and very crushing kind of despair wash over me whenever the “what am I doing with my life” dilemma rears its ugly head.

It’s very ironic, believe me, I am aware. Whilst I always groan about how stressful studying and applying for universities are, stressing out about something is better than not stressing out about anything. Anything solidly present and real, anyway. I use this saying so much but “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop” and it truly is. A workshop is stressful, but a devil’s workshop is just insanely illogical and frankly frustrating. It’s like scraping the bottom of an empty barrel; there’s literally nothing to scrape anymore but you still do it anyway because it’s habitual, like peeling a scab on your head even though there’s nothing there anymore. This is also attributed to my terrible inclination to latch onto the nearest worry and now that there’s nothing to latch onto, I latch onto the insignificance of existence and stumble into an existential crisis.




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Michelle Teoh

26-year-old cynical Asian, book enthusiast and purveyor of fine sarcasm.

2 thoughts on “Devil’s Workshop”

  1. Yeah, I’m in that position, really. I need a job for money but I don’t want a job because I want the time to do things but I have the time to do things now but I’m not doing them because I’m stressed by not having a job or money

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