• Akhila Balasubramaniam

Conversations with self


Photo by Toa Heftiba


Context: A restless girl's conversation with herself, as she goes for a walk.


At home


I'm constantly bombarding myself with content. It's overwhelming. Somehow, my coping strategy is to consume more content. TV shows, videos, books, podcasts, audiobooks. What about time to reflect? To feel bored and let the mind wander.

This is the productivity trap. To delude us that every minute spent has to be worthwhile.



Then why do you spend most of the time on Netflix and YouTube?



No one asked your opinion. Let's take some time to just be.

The discomfort of stillness is bothering me! This voice constantly whispering admonitions, that I am wasting time when I could be doing something useful; just, shut up.

The best thing is to go for a walk to the cliff.

Let's do something relaxing there.

No no no no no! Just sit and observe. Stare at the water.

Although, it's better to have the option to do what I feel like when I get there. Should I take a book? Maybe I should write. Good idea. I’ll take my laptop (I’m not going to write on my phone!).

Come on, let it be gadget-free. Best to take my journal.

What if I get a good idea and want to publish it? Am I going to type it all? Where am I going to find the time? Correction patience.

We'll survive. Let's go there, and meditate.

When did we start doing that? 👀

Well, let’s start now.

At the cliff



After trying a more interactive mindfulness practice — the 5-4-3-2-1,

5 things I can see

4 things I can feel

3 things I can hear

2 things I can smell

1 thing I can taste


I'm bored.

Reading a book (fiction) in this picturesque spot is the dream. I've got to do that.

Within a few minutes of reading,

Maybe reading indoors is better, it's more comfortable.



I've never read in my room. Not once. Let's just be here for a while.


But it's so windy. I either forget to bring a water bottle or don’t wear a jacket or sometimes, like now, the jacket is just not sufficient to keep warm. This is summer. What the hell.



Fine. Let's try something else to distract from the cold?



Non-fiction books! I won't feel guilty about wasting time.

Do you know what this is? This is the illusion of being in motion, and not taking action. Just like James Clear told. Reading non-fiction is being in motion. It feels like we're making tangible progress, but we're not. Because we're not working on what matters! It just gives a sense of gratification.

I never feel calm and composed while I take action towards my goals. It doesn't feel reassuring while doing it. It's always after.


While taking action, I’m in a state of flux. As I repeatedly put myself in this state, gradually it starts to feel gratifying. The initial few times are disquieting. I just want to scream and run and curl up in my bed and not speak to anyone! "I don’t want this. Please, go go go go go go!"

To have the FOMO of hustling, you need to be a seasoned hustler. It takes practice to crave that unease. A lot.

The discomfort while taking action is true. Though I partially disagree. Intentionally reading non-fiction is pretty effective. When you know there's something you can learn from it and apply it to your life to obtain better results, it's not just being in motion. It is action towards a better life.

Interesting. What's my intention now though?



Taking a break from consuming content.


While journaling, it’s easier to extend my stay in the cliff. I'm not that easily distracted. It centres me. Now that I feel more at ease with observing, it's time to keep my pen down for a while.

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