A Fear of Being Unproductive

The consequences of never taking a break, even when Dad died.

Photo of stacked books by All Bong (@all_bong) on Unsplash.

I hate being unproductive.

I once thought that this was my best quality. Not wanting to be unproductive meant that I was always trying to get something done. I was ahead in school, working on side projects, and making a lot of progress overall.


Then… my dad died.

That would seem like the perfect time to take a break, but I didn’t. I didn’t miss a full day of school. I kept my grades up. I kept on participating in my extracurricular activities. I forced myself to keep moving forward and not stop.


Except… here’s the thing. I needed to stop. I needed a break. Even though being productive all the time meant I got a lot done, it also meant that I was sacrificing something important: my mental health.


I ignored my mental health and didn’t let myself grieve. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. If I just ignore my problems, they’ll go away! Except… they didn’t go away. When I eventually let myself grieve, it made things a lot harder for me. I felt horrible all the time, making it harder for me to do work, which then made me feel even worse because I wasn’t getting much done.


Looking back, I wish I had missed school. I wish I had let a few grades drop. I wish I had missed more practices. I wish I had taken care of myself.


It’s okay if you need to take a break. Whether it’s because of grief, other mental health-related things, or just because you need one, it’s okay.


I’m still working on being okay with having unproductive moments, but I’ve gotten a lot better than I was before. Now, whenever I’m struggling, I let myself take a break, even if I have a difficult time doing it.


It’s okay to take breaks.



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Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Follow her on Twitter @natalieladams.