(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Power)

Throughout high school, and later during undergrad, I struggled with finding motivation to work. It was weird because before high school I had it easy, at least academically. I was able to learn new subjects with minimal effort, and there wasn’t a lot of boring homework I had to do. Anyhow, there were little consequences for not doing something, or doing it at the very last moment.

I never had a fixed routine for my day - I tried to start it a few times but it never really worked out. But semi-regularly inspiration would strike me, and it would happily align with one of the chapters I had to study, or with an assignment I had to do, or a new concept I had to learn, and things would work out.

But this reliance on inspiration alone became troublesome in high school, as stakes got higher. My organizational skills were severely under-developed, and now there were a ton of boring, repetitive assignments or exercises that I had to do - for which no amount of luck and inspiration would be enough. Some days it was so bad that if I knew the whole day was filled with boring classes and work, nothing could even get me out of bed - not even my mother throwing a cold mug of water on my face. I would fake some illness or throw a tantrum but simply refuse to get up and go to school.

Of course I wasn’t this self-aware back then, but now that I look back on it, despite all the struggle I managed to do fine in high school. What helped was the voice in my head (which made me wanna do stuff) was still somewhat aligned with the goals I had set. For example, even if I loathed doing repetitive problem sets, or preparing for a low-stakes exam - I enjoyed reading my textbooks thoroughly, or understanding some new concept in Physics or Math, or messing around with computers and programming. And all of that was good enough to land me in the institution and field of my choice for my undergrad (after some inevitable trauma as due of course).

Ah, but then started my undergrad, and it got significantly worse. I had too much freedom paired with almost no oversight; anyway I had always hated the typical desi parents’ oversight, phew. But who would’ve thunk that all of it combined was a recipe for disaster? The freedom had rendered me unhinged - I had no long term goals anymore, no motivation to get out of bed, no mood to put effort into anything that had a delayed reward. And what made it all worse was that I was in the institute I always aimed for, in a field that used to be my escape from boredom in high school, I had picked projects in the specific area I was interested in - and yet here I was, lying motionless, completely useless.

Now computers and programming had become the new boring. The new escapes I found were all passive, addictive and bad for the soul. After binging on a sitcom all day, I wouldn’t go to bed happy of course. Instead I would curse myself for being such a failure.

In some sense I was cursing the power in my head which makes me go “This is EXCITING! Let’s do more of this”. That same entity once gave me success, but now was betraying me and our dynamics had become quite toxic. The more I would curse it, the more it would punish me by pushing me towards the lowest hanging fruit, which was addictive and bordered on self-abuse - and so on - the vicious cycle was set into motion.

Despite all the toxicity, I managed to eke out a half-decent result by landing a solid job offer. It was certainly below the bar I had implicitly set for myself, but I couldn’t really complain much as I had stopped striving for it anyway.

Since the safety net was in place though, I started to slowly notice my own patterns. If I did whatever the (often screaming) voice in my head commanded me to do, I would get some sweet feel-good chemicals. But it wasn’t that simple or healthy - that voice would often push me towards junkie loops like “one more episode of the tv show”. So what exactly was going on?

I realized that if I started out by putting the highest possible goal on the table - and slowly tried to negotiate down instead of cursing or belittling the power, I would get a decent result. For example -

I need to find some full-time job that aligns with my field of interest X.
Eh sure but I feel like having biryani.
Ok lol, maybe we can order biryani. But can we also find some lecture or talk on youtube around field of interest X and watch it while having the biryani?
Umm sure, but let’s crack open a cold one first though! ^_^
Ok I guess -_-

Slowly and steadily the negotiations became constructive and friendlier. Lowly suggestions like compulsive eating or cracking-open-a-cold-one became rarer. When I would be at my peak of a healthy relation with the power, it would even guide me and provide advice that I couldn’t possibly come up on my own. But whenever I lost attentiveness, and made the mistake of belittling or cursing the power (even subsconsicously) for making me do something which was “a waste of time” - it would punish me back hard by stopping negotiations all together.

In conclusion, I have now learned to always treat the Power (or Shakti) within me with respect and reverence. Because I have zero control on outcomes when it goes vengeful, and I have zero control on outcomes when it showers me with motivation, and makes me reach the heights of my potential. All I can do is aim for the highest ideal, and thank the power for picking whatever route it sees fit.

Even if I end up binge watching hours of philosophy youtube, or going into an intense wikipedia or interwebz crawl - I thank the power for giving me the motivation to explore new perspectives and push boundaries of my knowledge. Even if I end up watching some sitcom - I thank the power for subconsciouslly teaching me how to be better at inter-personal relationships through the sitcom drama. I thank the power rather than cursing it for not making me do something more “productive”.

And guess what? Now that I revere the power, she does not punish me or send me into addictive vicious loops. I go with the flow and the cards seem to fall into place. I do what the power wants and the fruits come to me in their own time.