Why I have so much to do

So, the new motorsports year is just around the corner (or it’s already begun if you’re a Formula E nut) and you’re just getting excited when you remember all the clashes. Great.

I was writing out my calendar again today (I like to make it look nice) and some of the weekends this year are going to be completely insane for me I realise, as I’ve taken on board more work than I thought I had over the winter break.

Though I’m writing for less sites than I was last season, it’s more series (go figure) and the other day I got the usual message: slow down.

It sounds crazy to me, but I’ve heard it before. This message comes from people who know what they’re talking about in journalism. Don’t burn yourself out, quality is better than quantity, and you don’t need to do all this to impress.

Oh, if I was just doing this to impress.

So I sit and I think about it. I actually reread the conversation I had with a friend the last time I was told this message and, once again, I came to the same conclusion. No.

It sounds arrogant, I know, but there is a reasoning behind this. It isn’t about wanting to impress or thinking I know better. It’s actually due to a mental health problem I picked up whilst studying A Levels. But I can’t slow down, and I cannot stop.

So, A Levels. It seems like ages ago now, looking at what has happened over the last few years, but the damaging effects of my workload are still being felt.

In my first year of A Levels I studied maths, chemistry, physics, geography, and government and politics. The first four were required for the degree I then wanted to do at university. Government and politics was a weird interest I had back when I was 16. I was going through what I call my “communist phase”, but have thankfully mellowed out quite a bit since then.

Now, that’s a lot of work to do, especially because I’m not actually that “naturally gifted” at maths.

I’ve probably told this story before but around this time my baby brother wouldn’t sleep through the night. I distinctly remember waking up when he was crying one night and my brain trying to work out the quadratic equation of his cries. Because, quite simply, if I was awake, I was studying.

It was really unhealthy, but that was what I needed to do to get the grades I needed. Even studying almost all day Christmas day ahead of my mocks.

That carried on into my second year, even though I dropped government and politics, and then into university, where I had 40 contact hours a week plus probably about 40 hours’ worth of homework a week. I had to wake up at four in the morning to get everything I had to do in the day done. It’s little wonder why I dropped out.

So, what’s this got to do with anything. Well, it’s actually pretty simple. If I’m not working towards something, if I take too long a break, I start to have panic attacks (pretty mild panic attacks, especially compared to what I used to have when I couldn’t sleep, but that’s a different story), but still. Add that to the usual self-doubt and the reality that journalism in general, let alone motorsports journalism, is incredibly hard to break into, I have a need to work, almost constantly.

It’s gotten better than when I was studying sciences. I no longer wake up at four in the morning and I can take breaks to eat and do jigsaws, or write longwinded blog posts, but there’s still a need for the pressure of having a lot to do.

And so, on that note, I should probably get back to work.


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