I sent out a few job applications yesterday. It was the first time in a while that I’d done so. Nothing major, mostly just boilerplate cover letters to openings that I might be remotely qualified for. After all, I won’t get out of Retail Hell without at least some effort, right? But something funny happened after I sent out those emails.

I felt less productive.

It’s not exactly the feeling you’d expect after doing something productive, especially something you’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s counter-intuitive, to say the least. But there it was: as soon as I finished sending off various copies of my resume, I felt even less accomplished than normal.

Now I know (even if I don’t grok) that emotions are by definition not subject to the constraints of logic and sense-making. But that hasn’t stopped me from asking “Why?” Why would finally getting something done make me feel like I was getting nothing done?

Was it the contrast? Maybe the act of “doing something” finally threw into sharp relief all the time I’ve spent not “doing something.” After all, it is true that this was the first time in mumble-odd days weeks (read: months) that I’d bothered to even open up Craigslist or the AIA Colorado Job Board. It’s also true that doing so was something I’d been meaning to do since at least the new year. Time has indeed gotten away from me, and I am fast approaching two years(!) at my current place of employment.

Maybe the nay-saying voice in my head had a point…

…Wait, what?

I stopped myself as soon as that thought crossed my mind. I took a mental step back, attempting to get a better look at whatever had thrown that nugget of “truth” up from my subconscious. And you know what I found?

It looked an awful lot like internalized negativity.

Because even if I haven’t been looking for a new job, I’ve still been doing something. I’ve been reading a book series that’s been on my list for a while. I’m setting aside to play a bunch of games that have (also) been on my list. I’ve seen The LEGO Movie. I’ve continued to improve my SCA fighting. Heck, I’ve been blogging nearly every day for the past seven months!

Again: wait, what?

*checks date*

Yep, wow. My first post was on July 25th 2013, which was seven months ago yesterday. It sure doesn’t seem that long, but I haven’t really been keeping track either. Time flies, eh?

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: if you occasionally feel (like me) like you haven’t been doing anything productive, maybe you need to just take a step back and really look closely at your definition of “productive.” Does it involve things that matter to you, that make you happy? Or is it a hodgepodge of other people’s hopes and dreams, the internalized anchor of years and years of culture? If it’s the former, then yeah, maybe something needs to give.

If it’s the latter, maybe it’s time to cut that anchor loose.