It’s Okay: If You’re Not Producing Anything Great While Quarantined
In It’s Okay, we defend our most embarrassing, unpopular opinions.
The human propensity to try to turn any opportunity into a romantic comedy character exposition montage will never fail to amaze me. We’re in the middle of a pandemic! Let’s grow a pair of steel abs, cook up gourmet meals, keep our backs straight 24/7 and look good in every video call, pick up eleven new skills, and manage our mental health, all while not contracting Covid19. Not commuting three hours back and forth to work immediately translates to us all becoming Quarantine Elle Woods, yes?
Bear with me, hustle culture enthusiasts — I get it. When the fabric of the world as you know it slips from your hands, doing things is the only coping mechanism you know. Us slackers, we prefer to clutch at our bearings knee-deep in a packet of Pringles and a Veep season. And sometimes, doing both in equal, unequal, or simultaneous manners is also an available option. So is texting your ex.
Why must we accomplish anything at all while we protect ourselves? Guilt, mostly. The pinch which reminds us of our privilege when we think about those who aren’t lucky enough to quarantine with a roof over their heads. An irritating bite that won’t let you forget that you’re not worth anything unless you can check off a list of goals that may not mean anything in the future. Ask yourself this: why bother losing your mind attempting to accomplish things that bring you no joy or hope?
Potentially, because the exaltation of work and the visible results it produces, is so deeply embedded into our culture that failing to use golden opportunities like staying home during a pandemic is seen as a personal flaw. If you come out of quarantine, that is, waiting out a budding catastrophe, without unlocking new skills as if you’re a character leveling up in a video game, you’ve failed. Time to pack up, turn time around and submit yourself to the virus.
We’re in the middle of a global crisis — a bunch of bugs have brought our civilization to its knees. An excellent time to face that attempting to be productive will not ensure productivity or any form of greatness — the former is dependant on how mentally strong you’re feeling, and the latter is dependent upon other people judging your work. You can control exactly none of these things.
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Plus, the doing of all things is of no large priority while we wait for the world to right itself — it is merely respite. When constructs put in place to keep society functional are removed, it’s perfectly fine to presume that so are silly peer-pressure expectations, and so are arbitrary goals we only wanted to achieve for the small rush of serotonin that everything in its supposed right place gives us. Covid19 is just as likely to take out the meditating, yoga-practicing Masterchef-Marie Kondo as anyone else. Again, ask yourself – are you truly capable of fixing what’s wrong with the world around you — like the people deemed essential services trying their hardest to heal and find a cure, help those in need, gather information, and more. If not, then what’s the urgent need to accomplish more than protecting yourself? Take your time, as you would anyway.
Losing control is a terrible feeling, but just as a pandemic brings the ability to take meetings in your pajamas, the loss of power over our lives brings us the ability to re-evaluate what really matters: just caring — for yourself, for those you love, for things you actively enjoy. If this means that all you accomplish through the pandemic season is doing your job, feeding yourself, and taking naps, so be it.
You’ll be alright.