I understand the intent behind those “reject productivity during a pandemic” memes and posts. I think that’s probably a really important message for some people to hear.
If you need to hear these things, please hear them! I’ll back you up to anybody who needs to hear it from someone else:
- You don’t have to make your kids do every single elearning assignment.
- If you’re a teacher or a professor, you can be more lenient in your grading than you usually are.
- Be kind to yourself during this time; this is chaos and trauma and uncertainty, and it’s okay to move slower and accomplish less.
- If a little bit of mess doesn’t bother you, it’s okay to be a little messy right now.
- You don’t have to go to Zoom church, Zoom happy hour, Zoom game night if you don’t want to.
- You don’t need to learn a new language, pick up a new hobby, work on a side hustle, or re-invent your self. (Or re-start your blog, Liz.)
All that said, I worry that there’s another message that has gotten lost in all of the “don’t be productive” commentary: it is okay if you’re really busy right now.
With all this encouragement to slow down, rest, and try to take this time to re-center and rediscover your love for your family and so on, it’s also good to acknowledge that some of us have a WHOLE LOT OF STUFF TO DO.
I have college students who are depending on me to provide clear, consistent instructions and feedback on their work.
I have bills that need to be paid through my freelance work as a writer and an Outschool teacher.
I have kids who need help coping with this new situation we’re in and will continue to be in for the next several months, from what I can tell. They don’t see their friends, everything they love to do is cancelled, their cousins are at once a mile and a world away, and they need structure and some activities and one-on-one time.
I have a yard to take care of and a garden to plant. I have weeds to get rid of and honeysuckle to try to eradicate. I have a brush pile that needs to be burned. At the start of this, I had chickens in the garage who needed a new, safe run outdoors and I had to finish it before they could move out.
I think better when my house isn’t a total disaster, and now, with 4 of us home all day, every day, the work load of keeping things picked up has skyrocketed. Laundry still exists. I gotta figure out the grocery situation every week. Everybody needs to eat.
My husband is chronically ill, so a lot of day-to-day responsibilities fall to me.
I don’t have the luxury of rejecting productivity right now.
And I bet a lot of my friends don’t have that luxury, either.
So if you are someone who needs to hear that it’s okay to relax your expectations of yourself and turn down opportunities that are overwhelming right now, please make sure you do that! But if you’re busy and overwhelmed, and you feel like there’s nothing else you can give up, that’s okay, too.
You’re not a failure if you’re not thriving in this new schedule that some of your friends say is awesome. You’re not screwing this up because there hasn’t been a rediscovery of your inner person while in quarantine. You’re not a traitor to your own well-being by staying on top of your responsibilities during this time.
You’re awesome. You’ve got this. Embrace the lessons you need to embrace right now, and remember that some of the advice out there is not targeted toward you, and so you can read it and set it aside.