There’s pretty much no chance that you aren’t well aware of the social distancing our nation is tackling right now. It is a time of immense uncertainty and it is causing all of our lifestyles to completely shift from what we have always known. Days that were once filled with hectic commutes, schedules planned down to the minute, and mindless scrolling before bed has now become “What day is it?,” “Who is Tiger King?,” and, “Are you down to Zoom tonight?”
When this new normal all started, there seemed to be a universal thought process of “OK, great! Now I get all of this time to finally do what I’ve been saying I wanted to do for months, years even.” Suddenly social media feeds were filled with productivity galore. I would scroll through and see original songs being written and performed live in the matter of a day, photos of friends hard at work on their next big project, and too many hyper-lapse home workout videos to count. I was filled with so much joy seeing all of these creative works come to life (and so quickly), but I just didn’t feel like I was in the right place for that. Was I alone in this?
I was filled with so much joy seeing all of these creative works come to life (and so quickly), but I just didn’t feel like I was in the right place for that. Was I alone in this?
During these past few weeks, I have been overwhelmed thinking just how driven our society is. We are now machines that are wired from our individual beginnings to keep going and do not stop until you are told to do so. We are put on a fast track through school, we select a career (often there’s the monetary gain of the career path at least partially driving that decision), we then push through each day to advance to the next open door in our career and life in general. Do I think all of this hard work and drive is a bad thing? Absolutely not. We all want to make the most of this life we are living, and that has consistently meant grabbing and investing in as many opportunities that come along as possible. But, in the dark time that we are all trudging through right now, I can’t help but find myself focusing on the anxiety and worries of the world rather than what my next big success should be.
This topic has been heavy on my heart recently and I don’t believe I am alone. I’m here to tell you and validate your internal monologue telling you that it’s OK if you aren’t productive during quarantine. You don’t have to use this time to start a new blog to be adored by millions. You don’t have to use this time to get in the best shape of your life. You don’t have to use this time to launch a new business you thought of in a dream one night. It is OK to shut off the voice of your inner boss (YOU) that is telling you that you must be successful during this time “off.” Not to mention, you may not even have this time “off” right now. Maybe you’re still working full time, maybe you have the added pressures of homeschooling your kids, or maybe you’re taking care of family members. Why are we putting added pressure on ourselves to advance our career (or anything else) right now, when really, it probably should be the least of our worries during this pandemonium?
We all want to make the most of this life we are living, and that has consistently meant grabbing and investing in as many opportunities that come along as possible. But, in the dark time that we are all trudging through right now, I can’t help but find myself focusing on the anxiety and worries of the world rather than what my next big success should be.
I don’t believe that we all need to lay around each day in our pajamas binge-watching the entire Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ catalogue (but, happy for you if that’s all you feel like doing today! We’ve all been there.) I do, however, believe there can be great power in accepting this time away from the rest of the world as a powerful pause button.
As we all do our part to socially distance and put a stop to this heartbreaking pandemic, I am choosing to find the opportunities to embrace this time of pausing. Have I found myself ready to start writing that TV show I’ve been putting off for far too long? No, not yet. I would be lying if I said carrying the anxiety and weight of what is happening in this world isn’t affecting that. And I am OK with that, today. For now, I am embracing the FaceTime and Zoom calls with loved ones that have been happening more in the past two weeks than in the past year because we all are finally at home and have time to just talk. I am embracing the act of waking up well-rested, taking my time making my coffee, watching the news, and going through some yoga flows in the morning. I am embracing the puzzles that are keeping my brain active, the job that allows me to work remotely through this time, and the new meals I now have the chance to master. I am embracing the minimal opportunities I have to take a quick walk around the block or open up my apartment windows to breath in some fresh air that has never felt so good.
I would be lying if I said carrying the anxiety and weight of what is happening in this world isn’t affecting that. And I am OK with that, today.
We are living in history in the making. It is a scary, uncertain, and always-changing period of time that I am hopeful we will all get through together. During this time of isolation, we choose the voice that we are listening to. Will we choose to listen to our inner boss that is demanding more, more, more from us? Or, will we listen to the silence of pausing; the silence that allows us to create because we want to explore and bring something new to life, rather than please other people. The silence that gives us the time to focus on the people in our lives that matter to us, even from afar. The silence that enriches the days that have no schedule and nowhere to be, truly.
So check in with yourself daily. Break into a new hobby that will bring you joy. Bask in the moments of card games and blanket forts in the living room with your partner or your family. Savor the opportunity to focus on yourself and relish in the opportunity that you can decide who you wish to walk out of this season as. Let us all use this moment of pausing to enrich the person we currently are, instead of beating down the exhausted machine we came into all of this as.