By Julia Maher ’23
Undoubtedly, we are currently living in a very discouraging time. We’re stuck at home, many of us have lost our jobs, we have to practice social distancing, and we have no idea what the future holds. The list seems interminable. On top of the numerous fundamental struggles we face, there seems to be an additional competition among some of us in quarantine—who can be the most creative and extraordinary with our free time. Some people speak of writing a best-selling novel. Others intend on training for a future marathon. Regardless of the specific activity, many people speak of picking up new, spectacular hobbies since they believe that they will never have enough time later in their lives.
The appeal of this way of thinking is understandable—many people wish to feel productive, and right now, most people feel the exact opposite. Therefore, they want to fill their time with something they had always wished to do. However, this mindset is problematic. It is completely unreasonable for us to push ourselves to our limits and demand some spectacular performance from ourselves amid this quarantine. Why should we discourage ourselves even more than we already feel? We are living in an unprecedented time, and with that comes unprecedented and heightened rates of mental illness, especially depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. Others may not experience serious and diagnosed mental health issues, but they probably still feel some level of worry. Therefore, we should be focused on just surviving this pandemic, not on setting unreasonable goals for ourselves.
The most important thing is to take care of ourselves and to stay aligned with how we are feeling. If you have the opportunity and means, the next time you’re feeling tired, take a nap. When you feel restless or caged in, go outside for a walk. Feeling thirsty or hungry? Drink some water and eat healthy food that will nourish and fuel you. If you feel eager to learn, read a book or watch a TED talk. Feeling overwhelmed? Practice breathing exercises. Simply notice how you are feeling and respond accordingly.
I am not trying to say that nobody should aspire to achieve anything during this quarantine—I am simply saying that we should focus on our own wellbeing before we add on unnecessary goals for ourselves. As much as the world would like to tell you otherwise, being ordinary is okay; caring for your wellbeing is vital. Right now, those goals you want to accomplish should be lower priorities than your physical and mental health. If we truly do not feel well inside, then we cannot expect ourselves to set the next world record or make a groundbreaking discovery. Our first priority must be to respect ourselves and give us the grace to simply be ordinary.