The Anti-Lazy Manifesto

lazy blobs

Sometimes, I’m lazy. I don’t get to things that I mean to. I don’t call my grandmother, I don’t write as much as I want to, I don’t draw. I sleep, hangout with friends, watch TV. I do lazy things.

and i feel bad about it

Being lazy makes me wonder whether I’m capable of more. I question my own dedication and abilities.

youre lazy no good copy

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not helpful

Lazy just isn’t a useful concept.

First, it’s mean. Calling myself lazy implies that I should be doing more, but a flaw in my character preventing me from it. Lazy doesn’t ever assume that I have good intentions, like that I might just need some downtime.

More importantly, lazy usually masks something else, often something I’m afraid to face. It might hide that something isn’t a priority, which, when it comes to calling my grandmother makes me feel like a terrible human being. Or it might just not be my priority, maybe it’s an obligation, something that I think I should do because it’s important to someone else, or society-at-large.


Julia Cameron, in “The Artist’s Way” a wonderful handbook for unblocking creativity, argues that when we don’t start or complete our creative projects, we call this laziness or procrastination. We might blame our lack of time, but the inability to start often bubbles up from fear.

me and fear

Especially when I go to draw, I fear failure. I fear that my work will not live up to the dreams I have in my head, that the work will not be good enough. I fear that failure means that I am not good enough.

Cameron writes: “We have wanted to create, and we have been unable to create, and we have called that inability laziness. This is not merely inaccurate. It is cruel. Accuracy and compassion serve us far better.”

When forced to be more accurate, when I strip away the title of “lazy” and am forced to confront the fear, it’s not so very scary.

youre-not-so-scary copy2

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antilazy manifesto

Lazy is mean and unhelpful.

I might be blocked, scared, tired, stuck, unsure of how to start, but I know the difference between myself and a lazy blob.

me v blob

I might be afraid. I fear that my work is not good enough and that it’s a reflection of my self-worth, but I will face these poor little fears.

I vow to stop calling myself lazy!

Im not lazy

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  1. Marisa

    This is so lovely, Steph, and really resonates for me! Now that you mention it: I often use “lazy” as shorthand for things like “frustrated” (totally different!) or “nervous” (also totally different!), and when I use different vocabulary to frame my experience, it completely changes my level of compassion. (I don’t feel empathy for someone who is lazy, but I feel tons of empathy for someone who is nervous.) I need more clues about frameworks, and the adorable picture of you and the lazy blob has been sticking for me as a visual clue. Yay!

  2. Meredith Watts

    Steph, this is great! I very often think I’m being lazy when actually I’m not starting something because I am not sure I know how to do it. I’ll keep a picture in my mind of you with the adorable little “fear” guy on your shoulder.

    • steph

      Thank you Ali and Meredith! Yes, I still have a hard time differentiating when I’m avoiding because I don’t know how to start. So hard to remember! I usually jump straight to judging myself.

  3. Edie

    I love your drawings! Hyperbole and Half, eat your heart out.

    I often do “lazy” things because I just need down time, and time to think. Not think in a smart, focused way, but in a space-out-and-play-iphone-games way. And I have to continually remind myself that that’s okay. I can’t be “on” all the time. Good to be reminded that others have the same kind of struggle. And absolutely, sometimes it’s fear or not knowing how to begin.

    There’s also something else though, that feels like self-sabotage. Like sometimes I have a big deadline and I’m just recklessly mindlessly wasting time. What is that about? Fear of a sort, perhaps, but why do I do the thing that increases my fear and anxiety, when the only thing that would decrease it is to get to work? If I ever figure out the answer I’ll write a post for you about it :)

  4. steph

    Thank you Edie! I love Hyperbole and a Half– what a flattering comparison.

    The self-sabotage thing is tough. I do ultimately believe that we are using the “lazy” behaviors to numb our feelings of anxiety and fear, but getting past that to actually face the fears and take action– yes, if you figure this out, please do write a post!!

  5. […] fear of failure runs deeper than those adorable, little fears behind lazy. These fears are significant. They threaten my livelihood and cut to the core of how I think of […]

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