Do you sometimes feel like motivational posters are mobbing you? Like all the brightly optimistic people must be on drugs (and like you really want to know where you can get those)? Or like you’re going to punch the next person who chirpily suggests that you should “get out of your comfort zone”? Then this post is for you. Actually, it’s also for you if you’re one of the brightly optimistic and chirpy people – I’m not going to punch you, I promise. I’ll just try to explain why I sometimes look so sour when you try to motivate me, and why some pieces of “positive thinking” are terrible advice for introverts and anxious people.
I have been debating whether or not I should tell you, but… I have a super power. Not a secret identity, though – my super self is my everyday self. Which is just how it should be!
You may be snickering or rolling your eyes now. Empathy? What a lame super power! Well, if you’ve got a minute, I’d like to explain why I do think it’s indeed an incredibly valuable skill, one that, in theory, 99.9% of all humans possess, but that is not really valued enough in our culture, relegated to the realm of ‘feminine’, ‘bad for business’ and optional’. As a consequence, many people do not realise the full potential of what being empathetic really means, and how tremendously useful it can be.
How was your week, my dears? Mine has been crazy busy. Two classes to teach, a chapter deadline for my PhD thesis is drawing uncomfortably near, my car needed a little fix, I’m practising for a dance competition, and of course, there’s the blog!
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – some days or weeks are just stuffed to the brim with all the things. It can be lots of activities you like and even feel passionate about, but sometimes, they just add up unfavourably; throw in some lunches with friends and a few attempts to not entirely neglect your family, and it all becomes a bit too much.
Perversely, these are the times when I procrastinate the most, because being conscious of all these things that need to be done and the creeping dread of whether I can even manage all that before awful consequences ensue just makes me want to sit on the sofa, drink cocoa and watch 6-hour-long Jane Austen film adaptions (I’m looking at you, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth). Or surf pinterest all day and wonder which room I want to redecorate the most, and what it would look like, and where I would buy one of these gorgeous striped rugs I keep seeing.
Let me tell you something about this beautiful home region of mine: yes, we have plenty of grapes. But you know what really drives people crazy around here? Spargel. And right now, it’s Spargelzeit.
It’s that time of the year when you can finally buy fresh, in-season asparagus on farms and at small pop-up stalls by the country roads. When asparagus white and green, sautéed and fried, as a starter, soup, side dish and main meal takes over menus everywhere. It’s these precious few weeks of madness when all Germans try to eat as much Spargel as we possibly can, because we know it won’t last forever.
Literally, “Spargelzeit” means “asparagus time”, but there seems to be little point in translating it, because the rest of the world doesn’t quite seem to get it. In fact, everyone outside of Germany seems to regard this anual ritual with a healthy amount of scepticism – see this wonderful and funny list by Liv Hambret, an Australian who came to live among us and fondly catalogued some of our… cultural peculiarities. Spargelzeit is item 110.
Hello everyone! I am absolutely thrilled to be launching Grapes & Watercolours. To celebrate and to kick things off on the right note, have some inspiration in the form of creative prompts for your own awesome projects and a free printable to motivate you.
Let’s get those creative juices flowing, shall we?