Apathy disarms the worker. Workers may start with hope and vigour. Some quickly exhaust those elixirs. Others will lose them to the nooks behind cabinets. Still others have not bothered to use them at all, leaving them to collect dust in a box of greyed dreams.

Someone once recorded someone saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. For the longest time, I wholeheartedly agreed. I never thought it made sense to hate something you love. If you start to dislike something, doesn’t that mean you are doing the wrong thing? Isn’t this the blah heralding bland doom?

Morphing a passion into a job, into work, will always be taxing (more so in certain countries than others). The passion is not for play, not for relaxation either.   It becomes a craft to be honed. This requires dedication, commitment and effort. This process will never always be fun or easy. In these moments, I sometimes turn to apathy for guidance. If I had no passion, couldn’t I get through the dismal points more painlessly?

Apathy is lack of passion, where ‘pathos’ means ‘suffering’ in Greek, and we all know passion is suffering. If you ever wondered whether you were apathetic or not, consider how you feel about things. If you feel passions ignited somewhere in you, you likely do not qualify for clinical apathy, though check with your doctor if you wish. Cursory searches reveal intense neurological disturbances in clinical apathy [1] that are not applicable to the common experience. In everyday speech, apathy more often refers to specific disinterests in things. For example, if you have no desire for chocolate, you can be said to be apathetic towards it. What is more frightening is when you become apathetic towards things that once excited you, a telltale mark of depression [2]. But losing interest in the work you thought you loved isn’t always apathy.

Let’s return to the apathy I feigned earlier. Sometimes work is mundane, and when prolonged, can mimic the forewarned apathy. Instead of construing waning interest as apathy, it’s more useful to see it as a conservation of energy. These mundane tasks are stepping stones for sustaining your chosen work. Put a time limit on this feeling. This disinterest is to prevent you from spending too much time and energy on stupid, but necessary, tasks. If you still feel apathetic after these tasks are completed, perhaps you are doing too much meaningless work. Do something worthwhile. Something you can explain with ease. If I ask you why you do something, tell me without flinching. Doing what you love will be what you hate in small moments, but what you love in the big ones.

Alas, both these moments look the same in the present.

Reframe your apathy so that you can see the difference between the two.


Check it out:

[1] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drt/2011/893905/

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201604/the-curse-apathy-sources-and-solutions


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