Don’t Waste Your Time

by Carol Brennan KingAugust 2, 2022

It happened! The words, “We need to be thinking seriously about moving,” floated into the air like static on the phone during a storm. Does that help you understand how I felt about the idea? I confess my first thought was, “I hate moving.” My second thought was, “It is sooooo much work.” Don’t leave now. It is going to get better.

So we started, you know, downsizing. Or maybe for you, it might be upsizing. Either way, you end up going through all your stuff and trying to fill that box in the corner with some of it. Then you begin opening boxes, and if it has papers or journals in it, you get lost in the past.

It happened to me today, the lost in the past thing. I have been a writer since I was about ten, when I wrote up the notes from our 4H club meetings and sent them off to the local newspaper. Fortunately, I lived in the kind of small town that published that sort of thing. And I was hooked on writing.

But what have you ever been hooked on? Dreamed about doing? Or talked yourself out of because it might be too hard? Make a list, I dare you, of things you wanted to do or thought you could be. For me, it is pretty short. I wanted to write. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to entertain. And I did want to travel.

Then I found myself married with three kids and a husband in college. (We were on our way to Africa, but that comes later in another post. I loved my family, everything about being a mom and wife, but I wanted to write. Something. Anything.

Then as I read through a newspaper I picked up in church, I thought I could write for this paper. Maybe not news stories, but I’m a woman. I bet most of the readers of this paper, or at least half of them are women. So I wondered what would happen if I contacted the paper and asked them if they were interested in a column I could write.

I about cried when they responded. I could tell by the return address. My hands shook as I tore it open and read the words, “Yes, we are interested.” I called my column Carol’s Corner and later, as the paper changed owners, King’s Knotes. That’s how it started, seriously, my writing career. Over forty years ago.

So what’s the point? How does that relate to Don’t waste your time?

The point is you need to figure out who you are. What do you know you are good at? What do other people tell you that you are good at? What do you love to do and find rewarding? What do you want to do? Please don’t waste your time treading water or hating what you do because it is not what you want to do.

Now, I have to say this: Sometimes, you have to do things you may not love to do to be able to do the things you do love to do!

And if you sometimes remember this thing you must do, this job you don’t love, is there to help you be able to do what you love to do later. Maybe not right now, but it’s out there. And it will give your current circumstances new meaning.

So don’t waste your time complaining about your job, or your co-workers, or that piece of paper you have to get, or the training, or the interning, or anything else. Complaining just makes you suffer, just makes you miserable. And no fun to be around.

Instead, keep in mind the answers to those questions above: What do you know you are good at? What do other people tell you that you are good at? What do you love to do and find rewarding? What do you want to do?

And this is not just for young people…this counsel. I retired nine years ago from a job I loved. I remember that summer. I tried all the things I thought retired women did. I tried drawing and painting. I tried sewing. I tried reading. I love reading. But so many hours of the day, killing time.

I noticed that the library offered classes. I loved to teach. I called the library to see if they would be interested in offering some writing classes. That was almost exactly nine years ago. I started teaching writing classes six weeks later and never stopped doing what I loved: teaching and writing. That’s who God made me: a teacher and a writer. In the US, in Africa, in Ecuador, and via zoom, in Jamaica.

What do you love to do? What makes you whistle as you walk down the hall? I remember doing that when I was on my way to teaching my first class. I don’t care what it is. There is no wrong answer here. Chase your dream!

I’m still chasing mine. Just don’t waste your time complaining about the journey. Keep your focus and keep working and learning. It will make you better, more compassionate, more skillful in the end, and fully equipped to do what you were meant to do.

Just don’t waste your time.

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