At the beginning of the pandemic, I had my fair periods of bursting productivity. I completed my step-one fixed step training at work ahead of time, aced my French exam, went to the class twice a week virtually, wrote more than 20 poems for my portfolio website, revamped my childhood bedroom to an adult workspace, started a new obsession with houseplants and even created Excel spreadsheet to document its well-being updates, got myself a piano keyboard and taught myself from zero, regularly read papers and articles about planetary geology, started volunteering again, and the list goes on.
Yet a few months later, here I am, spending all my free time in the last few months either cuddling with my cat or binge-watching some shitty TV shows because I’ve run out of the good ones to watch. There’s no crap left to be given for things other than these two. Work hasn’t felt stimulating in a while either – and I probably haven’t been very receptive to new challenges too recently. I didn’t even have the willingness to spare some time to write here again. I gained weight because I don’t exercise, I haven’t put my skincare on in months, and I’m only capable of the bare minimum of household tasks in the house, i.e. drying clothes and vacuum-cleaning. I’ve let my parents water my houseplants, a few died, and it’s been a month since the last time I checked on each one of them carefully.
I understand that while the world and the lives within are not heading in the directions we all want, we just have to bear and live with it. And in these lacklustre times, it wouldn’t be surprising to feel like you haven’t done much for quite some time. I know I should just give myself a break.
Yet when does a break become too much break?
And it’s not like I am currently grieving so that I get to use a pity card as an excuse. Logically, I have no emergency reasons to be sad, although living with family members who owe each other a lot of explanations from each other’s unresolved baggage comes with its own daily challenges. But at the very least, it’s not like I’ve just lost a loved one or something of a resemblance to make me deserve to hit a pause in life. I just… don’t feel like doing anything.
Because of it, I get mad at myself. I accuse myself to be lazy. I don’t know if I am, or is it something else I am experiencing. I get mad at myself for “not living my potential to the fullest,” I guess, which makes me hate myself even more for internalizing a sentence that sounds straight out of a capitalist society.
I keep telling myself that while many other people seem to be getting their stuff together, maybe it’s because they have no other choice anyway. Whether to feed their spouse and newborns, pay their mortgage and other house bills, pay for their toddler’s pre-K, support their parents and siblings, or so forth. While I, on the other hand, pretty much come to work simply because it’s a normal, basic adult thing to do. And I’m obviously grateful for the privilege of having none of those burdens. Although I would admit, a little short-term goal about something I genuinely want to do or have would be nice to recalibrate my everyday mood and willingness to be back kicking asses.
At the same time, it makes me wonder; have I always considered my worth based on my productivity?
I guess being busy and multitasking was the only way I know how to live my day-to-day. So when I limit myself to perform only one nine-to-five task every day, it feels like I’m not progressing. It feels like a few steps backwards from who I already was, whom I had hustled to mould myself into as well. My 8-to-5 job is almost the only thing that makes me not feel like a complete garbage since at the very least I do something for a greater good and get a paycheck out of it.
But even if I want to be productive, I do not actually feel like doing it. And it reminds me of another saying that goes, “The difference between a success and mediocre person is the ability to work on something when you do not want to.” Again, it sounds to be the tagline that the capitalist corporations would try to buy us into. But regardless, I do believe that there is some truth in having to manage our willingness despite the lack of it to reach for something better.
I guess it mostly upsets me to think of all the wasted time and potential I could’ve used to learn about all the things I’ve always wanted to try but never got the time to pick up. And to think that my current existence probably produces more carbon footprints and other waste than I can compensate by my contribution to life in general is also unnerving.
The thought of living a life without the urge to reach for something more than what your current life already is is such a foreign and unpleasant concept to me. Especially because, what if this phase eventually shifts into a prolonged habit, and in turn becomes a comfort zone, where I refuse to grow out of it?
I do realize, however, that a mediocre life doesn’t mean a bad one either. It doesn’t mean such life is meaningless or that those lives are not worth living. It just bugs me to think that while I’m not currently suffering more than most of us are, I’m behaving like I’ve gained the right to become a couch potato.
Maybe I need a boost. A motivation or a purpose for me to get up from my bed and do something other than my 8-to-5 job – which I haven’t done quite enthusiastically as well recently. It used to be the longing for travels for me, but we’ve been strapped down to our home for one and a half years now and there is no sign that it’s going to change anytime soon. I guess I will be writing another piece on this is why it becomes important to do something you genuinely feel delighted about every day, so that you’re not constantly looking for a way to escape every once in a while, i.e., through the holiday – because we’ll never know when, how, or why that chance is going to be taken away from us. And now that the getaway opportunity’s gone, how does one cope with their day-to-day reality otherwise?
Or maybe I don’t actually need a boost. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s something more fundamental than a stimulus to escape this vicious cycle of feeling bad for not doing enough → actually not doing enough because of it → back to square one and so on.
Fingers crossed that I find the answer soon.