Thursday, 5 March 2015

FOROOT: The Fear Of Running Out of Time

As I often admit, I'm the worlds biggest hypocrite. 

Because for all I seem to write advice or truths or seem to somehow be wise and have my shit together, I'm genuinely an absolute mess. 

But then again, I'm not a liar. It just seems in some kind of weird irony that the moment I start writing about something which is bothering me under the pretense that it's going to turn into some form of advice post which includes the hearty phrase 'and then I realised' about 3/4 of the way down, only then do I actually start to figure it out. 

So I'm really hoping this is one of those moments, because today has been a prime, screaming example to me that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, and worse yet, that is making me do nothing.

This morning, I woke up today at half nine. I read in bed for a little while before the words gave me a headache, then woke up, unexpectedly, book in hand, at 1pm. I finally got up, did some laundry, had a shower and felt a little chilly so popped back into bed for a moment, only to wake up again now, at 5pm. 

And that's it. The light is beginning to fade. A whole day, lost. 

And instead of chastising myself briskly and getting up to make something of the day, I have sunk back into the warm security of my sheet-less duvet, and just stared at the faint marks in the weary paintwork of my wall. 

All the while feeling this straining anxiety tugging at my knowledge and my consciousness, only exacerbated when I aimlessly scroll down twitter and facebook to try and take my mind off it, seeing endless strangers and acquaintances alike happily singing about their triumphs and accomplishments, however social-media-embellished it may be, and the sickening fear takes a hold.

For I truly believe it is not FOMO - Fear of Missing Out - that various think-pieces and Thought Catalog articles like to proclaim marrs our generation. 

It's FOROOT - the Fear of Running Out Of Time.

I've always had a weird relationship with the idea of dying, and there's something about social media - the precariously removed 'now-ness' of how we document our lives online as anticipated memories - and the likes of Buzzfeed churning out countless listicles of late ' *insert number* Things You Must *insert activity* Before You Die ', and the notion of being a blogger, someone who has to self-make their success in a critical period, that have added this extraordinary level of pressure in which I can almost feel this giant countdown timer looming above me daily, casting down unavoidable and periodical announcements of: YOU NEED TO BUILD FASTER, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY TIME TO WASTE, YOUR TIME IS RUNNING OUT, YOUR WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IS CLOSING, THIS IS YOUR ONE AND ONLY CHANCE AND IT'S FADING.

And social networks are making this all so much worse.

 I've never before really felt myself falling victim to the pain of over-comparison, but suddenly it's hit me, and boy has it hit me hard. Watching other people build their worlds with determination and grit and reaping these extraordinary rewards and having their dreams come true, is undoubtedly wonderful when you know they deserve it, but, (here's the bit where I hate myself), it also fucking sucks. Because suddenly you find yourself in this desperate race you didn't even realise you were a part of and while your lungs are burning and legs screaming out in protest, you're watching others effortlessly dance past you in a trail of sparkling technicolor, all the while knowing that you can't stop. Even if you wanted to and quit, the haunting fear of your own potential would cling to you like a cloak and end up destroying you with disappointment.

We live in a world of overnight fame and a 15 minute spotlight, reality stars and the suffix '--famous' in which you can insert any given social network beforehand and have a category of new star, and this convoluted idea of what modern 'success' actually is, is eating away at me day by day and more or less driving me insane. 

And this fear in turn completely destroys any artistic integrity I was clinging on to.

I decide to use my curiously-discovered skill of painting to make a little money on the side because I have all these plans I have to do NOW and no funds to do them, and the moment I put brush to paper with the intention of making money, the talent is ripped away from me just as quickly as it came, and I can produce nothing. 

I feel the mounting pressure to keep a schedule of posting weekly at a minimum to try and keep people interested and opportunities afoot to keep building, yet the moment I put my fingers to the keys with the intention of keeping my traffic figures afloat, words, purpose, truth and emotion escape me entirely.

So in a panic, I withdraw entirely, never wanting to put out something that isn't important, and time continues to wash over me as this writer doesn't write, this painter doesn't paint and this live-r does not live.

Instead I wrap my arms around my legs and pull my knees to my chest, apologising to the imaginary gods of creativity that I would ever be so ungrateful and sink further into this worrisome pool of patheticness and knowledge that I'm really good at feeling sorry for myself. 

I guess this is the point where I'm meant to have a soloution, but... I guess I'm still working on that one. 

But I suppose I am writing. I'm the writer writing about how she's the writer who doesn't write. 

Ha, I guess that's a little bit of a something at least.

Whatever fearsome wrath that ticking clock above my head will throw down at me, I think it's become obvious that I need to get out of social media. My relationship with it has turned incredibly unhealthy and toxic, and  it is only serving to further exacerbate my paranoias and anxieties, and further derail any innocent and honest intentions behind my beloved creations.

Whatever detriment it will have on my progress toward 'success' I will take it. I will go back to square one, start afresh and sink into obscurity once more if it means I don't have to feel like a Fraudy McFrauderson bumbling around in a panic-striken frenzy trying to frantically shove random puzzle pieces together in a way that kinda somewhat resembles order. 

I don't need to be there.

I can instantly reel of a list of people on social networks who I harbour no ill-will toward and am convinced are wonderful people, yet they strike this seed of bitterness and negativity in my heart because of how inferior I deem myself in comparison to them and all they have achieved at so young. And I never ever wanna feel that way toward anyone who I respect and appreciate and generally enjoy. 

I think this is the kind of ignorance that people who feel the sickening grips of FOROOT need to be actively embracing: separating and distancing yourself from a situation which brings you bad juju.

Because at the end of the day, your perspective on the world IS how the world looks/is, because you're the one who witnesses it that way, so when your perspective becomes damaged it is imperative to sort that shit out and do what is necessary to make it all good again. 

(I definitely just laughed at the idea of walking up to a beautiful friend and saying 'I really like you, but you as a person are fundamentally damaging my perspective, so I'm going to have to willfully unacknowledge your existence for a bit until I work through some shit okay?')

This is why I never proclaim myself an advice-giver and it's probably worrying if you put my ideas into literal practice but YOU SEE WHAT I'M GETTING AT RIGHT? Pls don't be mean to people because they're pretty. 

I think what I'm trying to get at, in a really terrible way, is a solution which has weaved its way out of my complaining, as it thankfully somehow does - 

This pressure is self-administered. 

No-one is telling us we are running out of time but ourselves. 

It might be based on various catalysts that we see online and through other people, but we manifest it by ourselves and ultimately we are the ones telling ourselves that we are not enough. And it's only up to us to undo that, whether it means becoming a healthier happier person by blocking off the world and becoming a hermit and refusing to integrate yourself in certain circles that bring you unhappiness. For me - this means removing myself out of social media for a bit, turning a blind eye the sycophantic maelstrom of twitter and remembering who I am in real life.

And you know what, even I couldn't see how I'd possibly work this one out but... I actually feel a bit better.

It's 6:18pm, I'm still sat in my exact same spot and this post is a bit of a mess, but suddenly I don't feel so rubbish about staying in bed all day.


“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Photo Source


  1. This is something I'm definitely struggling with, too. As someone who has also tried to be a little creative to help relax (and maybe make a little bit of funds!) and not be happy with the outcome - it's so depressing. Whenever I'm feeling down and I'm comparing myself to others, I try to think of this quote:

    "This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died."

    xxx kelseyjbarnes

    1. wow I absolutely love that quote, where's it from? I definitely believe the most important lessons come from the circumstances that are the most difficult to go through x

  2. This is something that is constantly running through my head and you've written it perfectly. It reads almost as a poem. Thank you. Lisa x

    1. Ha thank you! I thought it was a mess of ramblings that no-one would understand - thank you for reading :) x

  3. I think a lot of twenty-somethings go through this. It's just that time in our lives where we're constantly trying to figure shit out. You explained what I feel right now so perfectly. I will admit that I feel like I'm running out of time. Never have I once felt that I was missing out on anything. I just feel like I'm not doing all the things I wanted to have done yesterday fast enough. So definitely, when I see others having done all they wanted to get done and more and they're my age--or worse, younger than me--it does suck. It makes me question what I'm doing wrong, or what's wrong with me, which is much worse. Comparison is the absolute devil.

    And I agree, removing whatever triggers this feeling in you is a good way to deal with it, but I also find that I have to remind myself, "is what that other person has something I want?" "Do I want whatever success they have, or do I want something else entirely?" It's really fascinating that most of the time I don't actually want what that person has. Like, I don't want to get married or get my PHD in science when I don't even like science, or whatever else everyone around me are being successful at. I don't really want their type of success, I want my own, which I think really is the root of it all. We want to be successful in our own way, but we still want it to seem better than our friends. And there still lies the comparison. We don't mean it in a bad or negative way either, we just want to feel like we're moving forward in a way that is socially acceptable...that makes us feel good because other's say and think we are good. It's just a matter of accepting this and not letting it affect you, which is hard. It's almost like I have to keep myself "in check" and remind myself of what I want and not care what other's should want of me.

    In the end, we all don't have to have our shit together. I'm sure no one really has their shit together. Much love! xxx Tiffany

    1. Loved this comment Tiffany!

      I often think that about comparison too, whenever I find myself becoming envious of someone, I have to force myself now to stop and think 'why?' and then work out what it is I'm envious of, how they achieved that thing they are envious of, and what I can do to get myself out of this jealous rut and start working toward the thing that they have achieved that I want to also. It sounds a little backwards but it actually works! x

  4. Great post I totally agree the constant pressure is really hard also the stuff that people put on Facebook and whatever, is the socially acceptable success. For me the private demons I overcome I wouldn't want to put in on Facebook but it is no less of a success. For me when I start to look at those I realise I have done more than I thought.
    Anne xxx

    1. I totally agree Anne, comparison all comes down to perspective. In the eyes of someone who has shot to superstardom of success and fortune you may not look like you've done much, but to your friends and family, they probably look at you as someone who has already achieved more than they could ever have imagined :) x

  5. So many of us can relate to this immense pressure we put on ourselves. And it is so many varying factors added in that up the stress dial into over load. Running out of time, missing out of this and that, comparisons to our peers; all this and then the ever popular 'am I good enough', 'have I achieved enough by this age' etc etc. Dude! Life is hard enough, why the heck do we continue to torture ourselves?
    I think the key is doing exactly what you did, saying stuff you to the strict deadlines and expectations of a day to day life, throwing all that pressure into the wind and spending time how you wish. Not watching a clock. Not focusing on what you could have been doing or worse, should have been doing. Just spending time. Living. Living your very own life.

    Faded Windmills

    1. Definitely agree with you here Gemma, I think social media has played a HUGE part of this 'running out of time' feeling too. When you can look at all your past years online on facebook with a simple click of a button or the likes of 'timehop' freaking us all out how a certain event was 'already a year ago?!' it gives us such a pressure for the future mixed with a painful nostalgia for the past that totally screws up our present x

  6. people literally write the longest comments on your posts. the least you could do is reply to them. i'm not trying to be rude but it's just a friendly suggestion.

    1. Hi,

      I appreciate and fully understand your comment, and I'd like to apologise to anyone who has ever felt let down or upset that I haven't replied to a comment of theirs. I cannot stress ENOUGH that that was never my intention and I read every single comment I receive with utmost gratitude. & I adore to see other peoples views on the topics I discuss. But often for fear of just repeating my responses to each person or coming across as insincere I don't comment back - some of them don't need replies to, it often seems those who leave huge essays just needed to get that out of their system, which they are more than welcome to do here.

      But you are right. I'd never want to dishearten anyone who took the time out of their lives to comment, so I will be making a super effort to reply from now onwards. Thank you

  7. I can completely relate to this, I often have a lot of the same thoughts about my own levels of 'success' in relation to others, and I often beat myself up over having spent a day doing 'nothing. But I think it's really important to remember that anything we do, no matter how little, is actually productive and we shouldn't shun these little steps. I also agree about social media, I've never been a huge fan and have only recently got Twitter and Instagram, but I'm really trying to not take them too seriously - they're not reality after all! Hope these strategies work out for you :)
    Hannah x

    1. Thank you Hannah - you've been lucky to have gone so long without the likes of Twitter etc infiltrating your life! It can be so difficult for us to separate what's real and what's online, it does make me worry for the future a bit... x

  8. Love this post....the words are like liquid coming out, so smooth and refreshing. I can totally relate, you've hit it spot on! And trust me when I say, you are not the only one!

  9. I have always had exactly the same problem. Any time I have tried in the past to start a blog or to simply just write something creative, I get the most horrendous writer's block or fear or writing rubbish that I simply find it easier not to write at all. But atleast you managed to write this post so that's atleast something! Keep going!

    Liv |

    1. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” - Babe Ruth :) you just gotta keep going, if even just for yourself! x

  10. I don't normally read posts as long as this that but you do have a good way with words! I know this is not really the point of the post but I used to have many lie in bed all day days like these. It's good you are doing something about it though as I never did!

    Amy at Amy & More

    1. Ha that's probably the best compliment ever, thank you! x

  11. I have this exact same feeling a lot of the time. I am not getting any younger and yet I seem to constantly slip further and further from figuring out what it is I want to do in life. Seeing young, accomplished people in social media definitely feeds the feeling of that I'm not doing enough, not figuring my shit out fast enough, and not accomplishing anything. Thanks for writing this, it is definitely relatable.

    1. I think what we all end up doing is getting so worked up and scared that we just curl up under the duvet and pretend its not happening... which only seems to make things worse. But it can be so hard to face things like this head on! Everyone needs duvet days every now and again, but not every day x

  12. I cannot explain how much I love and identify with this post. You are clearly an extremely creative, gifted writer and that already IS your 'success', fyi. Just wow.

  13. I NEEDED THIS POST TODAY!! I feel like trash these days because there's no "progress" in my life and my biggest fear of not doing something great is eating me. I see so many people who are just as young as me but they have better lives, better jobs, better profile pictures & better existence and here I am just sitting in my room and not be able to do anything. It kills me that I will lead an average life and be an average person and die unknown. I am really very afraid this would happen. But thank you so much for writing this post, you're magical!

    1. I'm so glad my ramblings could help Areeba!But there is still SO much time left that we tend to ignore because its not RIGHT now... there's always still time! x

  14. Kaite, what font style do you use for your posts? Amy.

    1. Hi Amy, sorry to be rubbish but I genuinely just use the deafult blogger font haha

  15. I love the way you write. I'm 20 and feel as though we are experiencing the same things--maybe its something "kids" our age go through! You're amazing and beautiful, keep your spirits high. :)

    1. I'm only 22 and I feel like I'm an entire decade older than you! It's insane how old and ancient I feel in my brain and the desperation I feel to try and make something of myself as soon as possible. But the thing I've realised, is that every day spent stressing, is a counter-productive day of doing nothing... so we gotta just swallow that pill and start building! Thanks for reading :) x

  16. Hi Quakes,

    This post was heavy, but something I relate to nevertheless. I often feel these kinds of posts are amongst your best, and most inspired, when you're really doing some good art and speaking truth others can relate to. Your FOROOT concept is especially interesting: none of us know when our clock is going to run out, so it's ridiculous to feel like our time is running out - for all we know it might already be nearly up and we're not panicking nearly enough; or it could last forever. I think stepping away from this feeling is an important key to a stable character, and something to aspire to. Learn from the past, respect the future, and find a balance that lets you live in the present: understand when it's good to sit in bed all day (for you it was, this is a gem of a post!) and when it isn't.

    But it saddens me to see you feeling so uninspired to. Don't worry, the summer's coming, and in 6 months you might be back to being able to sneak off to Gordon's with me when the mood takes you.

    Love - Pistol.

    1. I love you Pete. Cannot wait to see you again x

  17. Oh my, I feel this all the time - fear that I'm running out of time, that if I don't run all the time I'll stop and freeze on the spot. And stay there.

    I love this bit: "I decide to use my curiously-discovered skill of painting to make a little money on the side because I have all these plans I have to do NOW and no funds to do them, and the moment I put brush to paper with the intention of making money, the talent is ripped away from me just as quickly as it came, and I can produce nothing."
    I have struggled so much with my drawing and painting for similar reasons...

    The thing is - yes the pressure is self administered but omfg I love that I'm not just going through life, that I want to achieve things, that I'm the only who can say whether I feel succsesful or not.

    That's some freedom. But we all struggle with balancing our freedom. It's heavy.

    I've ended up writing a post on how I'm countering the issue of comparing yourself, and then a second one on not dying before your body dies... and between the two ideas, the key for me is always to know that as long as you are feeling engaged and creative, as long as you keep going and doing with a sense of discovery, you will find true inspiration.

    As for balancing, or the fear of posting something with less impact, we all need to realise that it's not the product that is looked up to, but the person. You are not just the best of you, you are the highs, lows and everything in between.

    I'm turning 29 in May, and I know how you feel, I remember it vividly because I still get it sometimes. But I'm finding that more and more, I stop giving a fuck about whether others see something as important. I care more if it's important to me. If I feel I need to say it, then the only thing I can do is say it as best as I can, and hope it can help even one other person.

    Finally there's nothing hypochritical about giving advice on things you try to figure out. No one ever has a full proof 100% right way of doing things. 99% of people don't share anything they learn, many never even learn to sort out those feelings. You are exceptional.

    Keep it up. x


    1. Oh wow, this comment was incredible to read, thank you so much.

      I can't explain how much I loved this sentence 'You are not just the best of you, you are the highs, lows and everything in between.'

      That is so poetic, I want that framed on my wall to look at every day! Thank you so much for a beautiful, insightful comment x

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  19. Katie, you manage to put things into words in a way that is just.. magic. The way you describe feelings and emotions in your writing.. every time I get halfway through a post of yours I'm going 'Shit that's exactly it! She put into words what I've been trying to fathom the meaning of for months!'

    For the love of god don't ever stop writing, you've inspired me to start writing again. And I hope one day I can write even just half as beautifully and eloquently as you.

    Much love

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