Time’s A-Wastin’: An Essay on Time, Proper Use of It, and General Culture Clash

I have lately been having a crisis of self-deprecation. Well, lately, no – rather, since the moment I arrived here. Basically since graduating college, I have not been able to shake the feeling that I am, indeed, a lazy slob.

This is ridiculous for several reasons. However, here is the main cause for my feelings of uselessness:

I have not, since beginning work in October, been able to stop feeling guilty for the fact that I wake up at 11am every day. This bothers me immensely, and I don’t know why. In all reasonableness, here are my justifications for doing so (see? I even feel that I need to explain myself with justifications. This is ridiculous):

-I do not work until 4pm every day, and generally leave at 10pm. I then need dinner time, winding-down time, and getting ready for bed time, so I don’t generally go to bed until 3 or 4am.

-This means that I only get a normal 8 hours sleep. It’s not like I’m spending all of my time snoozing.

-I do not have this schedule by choice. I would love nothing more than to have to wake up at 8 (okay, 9am) for morning classes, but that’s not how things are working out right now.

-I still get up at the same time on weekends, while most of my friends sleep until 2 or even 3pm.

-(Also, as a general PSA, I only work about ten hours a week because that’s all I am offered right now. But teaching ten hours a week is not like going to class ten hours a week. In class you can zone out, or just listen, or even participate, but it’s fairly easy. As a teacher, I have to be in charge all the time. I have to listen carefully, respond cleverly, and know exactly what we’re doing at every moment of the class. It’s pretty tiring!)

And then when I am awake, I spend a lot of time at home in the house. I could be doing things, but since I may be doing them by sitting quietly at my desk, I suddenly feel as if it doesn’t count.

In general, I think these feelings come from a deep-seated (and until now, mostly hidden) very American view of time use. Americans are ultra-producers; we even work in our sleep. The idea of waking up at 11am (though even most professional Spaniards do not begin work before 10am) and not going to work until 4 seems frivolous and improper. I should get up at 8 anyway and do something else before work. There’s a constant emphasis on doing something. ALWAYS DOING SOMETHING. Which is ridiculous, because really, what would I do? If I go out all I will do is spend money. My friends are busy with class during the day. I have to plan my classes, but that’s done at home, and unfortunately, in the middle of the night.

This, combined with a Spanish lifestyle that begins in the afternoon and stretches deep into the night, is not helpful. In addition, Spanish life is lived on the street; the day has not begun until you’ve left the house. So if I wake up at 11 and do not leave the house until 2, or sometimes 4, I have basically wasted the day on both counts.

It makes no sense to feel this way because there’s really nothing I’m not doing that I should be. I take all the classes I am offered, I have never missed or cancelled one (except the day I had food poisoning), and I go out often to run errands, meet with friends, etc. But still, I feel that because I wake up three hours later than most people, and go to bed three hours later as well, that my whole existence is useless and that I really do nothing. I can’t get over this. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

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