Updated: Dec 30, 2020
2020 - expected to be one of the best years yet. We anticipated the much awaited sequel to the roaring twenties (barring prohibition and extreme societal divides). Tons of Great Gatsby themed New Year’s Eve bashes set the tone. Little did we know the affairs, scandal, and deaths of, well I’m not going to spoil it! Go read the book; you have the time! The affairs, scandal and multiple deaths in Scott F. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby proved much more relevant than the extravagant bashes, flappers, and mischief. Covid-19 made sure of that.
Not a few months into the new year, it became clear that 2020 would be far from the bee’s knees. Comical Instagram posts and memes about coronavirus and eating bat soup had been circulating, but most people hadn’t thought twice about it. I was one of those people. This ultimately made it worse when I was sent home from the trip of a lifetime: my senior semester abroad in Israel with my high school. It felt like this thing that was supposed to be a joke was robbing me of the experiences I’d dreamed about my entire life.
The circumstances in the United States heightened rapidly and soon enough we were not only home from our trip, but entirely isolated in a nation-wide quarantine. Oh, the q word. This time around prohibition had nothing to do with alcohol… unless we’re talking about Corona (clever I know! That was one of my better comedic moments). Rather, interaction at any distance less than six feet, uncovered mouths and noses, and (god forbid!) unwashed hands are banned and thus subjected to great consequence. As with the overconsumption of alcohol, an excessive indulgence of these behaviors can result in severe illness.
In this state, there are two main types of people. Instead of those with old money and those with new money, it’s those with considerable motivation and those with minimal to no motivation. Most of us have never been faced with such an abundance of free time. Consequently, we’re left wondering what to do with it. Of course, people have jumped at the opportunity to fill the internet with ideas and guidelines of how to use our time. Here’s where my internal conflict develops. Part of me feels like I too should be using this unique opportunity to become my best self. I need a rigorous daily workout routine, productive activities, hours dedicated to extreme organization methods, and full days focused solely on bettering myself. I see people cooking extravagant dishes, starting businesses or nonprofits, and ultimately thriving. It looks and sounds great, but is it as great as the new show I’m binging on Netflix? Could that really be better than the comfort of my bed?
Never again will I have another extended period of time where I have zero obligations. If I want to sleep my day away and just watch tik tok and netflix, then technically there isn’t something else I need to be doing. I’m not procrastinating homework or avoiding obligations. There just isn’t anything that I have to be doing. Is it so wrong to relish in that?
Quarantine is not ideal. It gets lonely and boring no matter your circumstances, and the isolation affects us all differently. I feel immense amounts of guilt on days when I don’t leave my bed. I harp on myself when I skip a day of my Chloe Ting summer shred challenge or am not writing, reading, or trying to find something productive. This intense pressure to be productive and make the most of this time can feel stifling especially when I’m crippled by the pain of missing the prime time of my life and fear that this virus will continue to rob me of defining moments like my freshman year of college. I was supposed to be in Israel, then at the beach with my friends, then working at my favorite place on earth (camp), and then experiencing my first real taste of adulthood as a college Freshman. Corona has compromised all of that. These are just the things that I’ve lost, but I’m not ignorant. EVERYONE is missing out right now. I don’t think there is anyone who has been entirely unaffected by covid. That said, it makes perfect sense that the idea of productivity right now feels impossible.
We are all processing and handling quarantine differently. You cannot compare your achievements at this time to someone else’s. For all you know, the effort that it took for you to get out of bed was the same amount of effort it took for someone else to work out. You both exerted effort and one is not necessarily better than the other. Celebrate yourself for the little things when you need to. I have had weeks where I’ve accomplished a lot. I work out, find time for art and exercise, and actually have a normal sleep schedule. Other weeks I don’t leave my bed until at least 3 PM and my greatest accomplishment is making it downstairs for a two-minute conversation with my family.
The isolation is exhausting - the ongoing fight you’re having with yourself over whether or not your actions during quarantine are worthwhile only exacerbates that exhaustion and adds stress and worry, which I promise we have enough of in the world right now. It is so tiring to quarrel with yourself. When you have motivation to take on a day and try all of the things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time for, go for it! Be excited about it and proud of yourself for taking the steps to utilize the time. However, when you can’t find that motivation, forgive yourself. Remind yourself that this is not an easy time especially for your mind. Life’s average pace is speedy, how amazing is it that you have this time to relax! Sleep all day, do nothing, and do not feel guilty. Everyone deserves to listen to themselves right now and do what is best for them. Don’t judge how others are handling this and extend the same courtesy to yourself. Keep reaching for the green light ;) We’re going to make it.