Changing the Narrative Around My Top 3 Socially Deemed “Bad Habits”

With the approaching culmination of finals comes a beacon of light at the end of a dark and seemingly never-ending tunnel of term paper after term paper — the arrival of summer. For some, this may mean vacation time. I know for me, it means a chance to see my family and friends back home and head out to the beach. But I know for Berkeley Bears, it’s prime time to land internships and grow their professional portfolio. Do I feel the effects of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) creeping over my shoulders? Maybe. But why? In Western society, productivity is synonymous with success. If you’re not spending every waking hour hustling and grinding and selling your soul to capitalism, then you’re considered lazy and not ambitious enough. 

Growing up, that’s all I’d ever hear — that I was lazy. And I suppose I was, but as every teenager can attest to feeling, I think I was just misunderstood. If I slept in, I didn’t have to rely on an alarm clock because I could count on a lecture from my parents, along with a laundry list of chores I needed to promptly perform as compensation for “wasting” half of my day. And these are just a few complaints I received about my “detrimental” routines. The following is a list of my socially deemed “bad habits” that I’ve grown to realize aren’t so bad after all:

#1 Sleeping and Waking Up Late

Woman sleeping

Unless you’re my bubbly roommate who likes to wake up at the crack of dawn, pray, follow a guided meditation, eat a heaping serving of fresh oatmeal with berries, work out, and go to class all before I even begin to flutter my eyelids open around noon, you’ve probably been chastised for waking up late. I know I have. 

I’ve had people call me lazy, unproductive, and guilty of wasting away my day, which can all be annoying comments to hear when you’re someone who’s most productive at night. It’s ironic considering the people complaining are fast asleep and henceforth being unproductive late at night, while I'm hard at work. Personally, I think that following a traditional sleep cycle is overrated, and everyone should feel entitled to abide by a schedule that works best for them. Even though I may sleep when birds start chirping outside my window and wake up after McDonald’s has stopped serving breakfast, I still manage to complete the same amount of tasks as early birds and then some.

#2 Chronically Procrastinating 

Frustrated student sitting at the desk with a huge pile of books 

I take twisted pride in this “bad habit” of mine. Underneath the poor time management facade, I’m a beast at time efficiency, especially under pressure! Give me a too-close-for-comfort time constraint, and I’ll deliver an assignment that, if I do say so myself, isn’t too shabby at all. 

There’s something addictive about the thrill of being so close to failure that injects you with a high once you pull off an assignment for a dangerously close deadline. If “last minute start times” are what you associate with “surges of inspiration” and “a compelling motivator,” then you and I are of the same breed. Maybe we should try not to get too carried away. But hey, if that’s the tactic that works for us, then we might as well be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we don’t plan on changing our habits anytime soon. For the sake of our mental health, let’s stop feeling guilty about our flawlessly cultivated finessing skills.

#3 Listening Rather Than Verbally Contributing to Conversations

Women in an interview

“Why are you so quiet?” “Do you talk?” As a shy and quiet individual, these ignorant comments can cut deep, but I’ve come to realize that they undermine my greatest gift. In a world full of babblers who run their tongues with trivial matters all day and raise their voices in hopes of being heard over more meaningless noise, there are those, like myself, who choose to listen. And we hear it all. 

The conversations that we quietly and carefully archive in the crevices of our mind for later use come in handy when we are able to remember minute and specific details about others. Our memory allows us to establish a deep sense of trust and connection with them. Gift giving and letter writing are my favorite ways to express my appreciation and adoration for those I care about because I’m able to mirror their love language and personalize my gifts to perfection. When someone is speaking passionately about something that they love and their eyes light up, I quietly capture and file that snapshot of them in their happy place and memorialize it in a heartfelt card or related gift for them. 

It’s these subtle idiosyncrasies that are overlooked and underappreciated, which causes people to forget that sometimes socially deemed “bad habits” aren’t so bad after all. If you practice being an active listener to those who are different from you, you may find you have been reading them wrong all along. You might even discover that there are actually strengths in their “weaknesses” that could be of benefit to you.