By Jacob Morris
One of the phrases I despise the most is “you have too much time on your hands”. It’s something I’ve been told frequently throughout the years. While I wear several different hats in my professional life, I’m primarily a digital video producer. I’ve spent huge amounts of time making things for people to watch, think about, laugh at, and be entertained by.
Most recently, I’ve been spending my time as the producer of Run to Wellness, a cross-Canada running campaign and documentary for mental health. I enjoyed this experience thoroughly–not only talking about my own struggles with depression and anxiety, but attempting to break down the narrative surrounding mental health, turning it into something a little more inspirational by running 10 half marathons in the span of 30 days. I have been immensely proud of all of the content produced throughout this campaign.
I have also spent a huge amount of time producing videos that are completely ridiculous. Comedic videos that I find hilarious, but maybe don’t always hit home with some people. Yes, I’ve received the classic internet-haters’ comments, but I’ve also received the infuriating “you have too much time on your hands” from close friends.
Working in a business where ten seconds of video could take days to produce, there is nothing more disheartening than having your work and your vision denounced or invalidated. This is something that I have always struggled with–the judgment (or anticipation of judgment) of others influencing what and how I do something. It’s suffocating and can destroy confidence. Even while it’s almost always meant as a passing comment without much weight behind it, I’ve felt the lasting effects of it–it can lead to all kinds of anxiety.
When someone questions how you are choosing to live your life, or even subtly implying that you may have wasted a good portion of it doing something that is, in their eyes, worthless, that hurts. It makes you feel small; it makes you want to not try again, it makes you want to curl up in a ball and pretend it never happened. The worst part is that sometimes you’re really proud of what you’ve done and then someone comes along and makes it all fall apart. Especially when you’re already in an emotionally fragile state–a place I have definitely been several times before–it doesn’t take much to make you look in the mirror and suddenly be dissatisfied.
For the sake of my own mental health, getting over this phrase has been a struggle. I work in a business where I am always seeking to please audiences. But the side effects of listening to the critics can be debilitating. That’s why I’ve found it so important to follow my heart. To always look at the balance of work and life and ensure I’m taking on projects that I know are going to feed me emotionally, while trying to not worry about pleasing others.
In spring of 2015, I quit my full-time job in the media business to become a freelance producer. When Run to Wellness started up, I turned down another high-paying salary position to focus on doing something I really love. The funny thing is, I’ve found that when you’re really doing what you love people can recognize that. It may take time to build up the confidence needed to not worry about judgment, but once you can block it out, it’s a wonderful place to be.
I think we also have a responsibility to be empathetic as humans. One small change I think we could all make is to reach out a little more to one another when we see something we like. We’re all just living our own lives. While we may not always understand another person’s opinions or choices, they are entitled to them. Just as a small, passing comment can knock someone down, a small compliment can help build great confidence.
Regardless of what anyone else thinks, your time is yours to use. You deserve to use it how you wish.