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Pandemic Productivity

Madeleine Ouellette

Posted on May 17, 2020 14:58

7 users

The pandemic seems to put people in two camps, those thriving and using this time to their advantage, and those struggling to make it through each day. I think we need to feel okay no matter which camp we end up in.

I have been self-isolating since Friday, March 13, so I am coming up on ten weeks here. The uncertainty and anxiety about the state of the world right now is stressful enough, but I have also been feeling the effects of social media and articles telling me that this is the perfect time to be productive.

I go to sleep each night running through the list of things in my head that I failed at doing today: didn’t send that package, didn’t start the knitting project, didn’t write a single sentence in the scarily blank word doc that is my "first draft of a novel," and didn’t even do the laundry I meant to do! How is it that days are simultaneously the longest and shortest they have ever been?

We are being told that if you aren’t working right now and don’t have someone to care for (children, sick loved ones, etc.), then the only reason you have for not accomplishing great things, is lack of discipline. So many people on social media, and even people I know personally, have done such incredible things during these almost two months, and it is so hard not to compare myself to that.

The only solace I find in this, is that I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling; the crippling feeling of all these days passing by with nothing to show for them. I know there must be so many other people out there like me, struggling each day to just feel okay. I want to use this time to be creative.

I am so jealous of the artists and writers and activists who had the metaphorical fire lit under them when this quarantine began. I eagerly await the novels that are being furiously written, the paintings that are being worked on day after day without interruption.

But I am also trying to come to terms with the fact that we are in the middle of a scary time, and it is okay to feel paralyzed by it. I want to feel at peace with the little things that I do get done each day, like the book I finished reading, or the fact that I only watched one episode of "Law and Order" today. How about that the basil plant I bought last week is still alive and actually thriving?

I am eternally grateful and awed by those humans who are using this time so productively, and of course by the essential workers. I am awed by everyone who is just getting by. Times like these are difficult, and I think we need to give ourselves a break.


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