25 April 2020

Dealing with the 'not doing enough' guilt

Hand holding a candle with succulent in the background

I've been meaning to write something about this for a LONG time because wow millenials are really pressurised into turning every single moment of the day into productive time and every hobby into a money maker, huh? Anyway, during lockdown we've all been bombarded with even more messages of 'OMG now's the time to take up that hobby you've been talking about/do home workouts/get skinny/finally make a PROPER use of your time' and it's really a bit much isn't it? It's a time for all sorts of companies who are losing money on us not buying things from their stores to encourage us to shop online - you can't do weights training at home to get fit without buying some first can you? But also, the pressure seems to be coming from everyone. We've all seen how many sourdough loaves are being made on social media (no shade here, I  love the idea of making one) and have been asked by our families if we've found any new hobbies yet.


It's creating this weird divide around lockdown and how we're all coping. For starters, there are people who really have way less time on their hands now (honestly I've never been more glad to not have children) and are being bombarded with all of these mixed messages about what we should be doing when they have even less spare time. Normally no one sits you down and asks if you're using every day to its advantage, but that's what social media and often people we're in touch with are doing at the moment. 

Hand holding a book in front of notebooks and art and a succulent

Lockdown is being branded as a 'rare opportunity' - it's a time to call your grandparents when you're normally too busy, or finally learn how to knit, download Duolingo and get cracking on a new language or finally discover your abs. On the flip side of that, it's this massive time of crisis and uncertainty. A lot of our identity is wound up in the way we interact with others, our jobs or schoolwork, and how we present ourselves to the world. With a lot of those rugs pulled from under our feet we're all entering into this weird time of having to get to know ourselves better (which absolutely makes me want to retch) without any of those distractions. It's intense.

And whilst yes some people have more 'free time' to do things they normally wouldn't, we're also using up all this headspace to think about ourselves, the lives we've created, and have moments of existential crisis about our futures facing Covid-19 and the issues its creating. It's tiring and it's a difficult thing for anyone to have to face, although much more difficult depending on your circumstances.

I really come to writing this with a lot of privilege. I still have my job, I live with my boyfriend so I'm not feeling too isolated and my mental health prior to this whole situation was the best it's been in years, probably all of my adult life. And yet, almost every day I'm having to remind myself that I don't have to do it all. Yes, I love to bake and I've taken up yoga again to help with my anxiety, but I'm also ignoring all of those damned Duolingo reminders (what an angry little owl) and I've had so many days where I'm too tired and frustrated to do anything but mope and mindlessly half watch TV.

What I'm really trying to say is just don't beat yourself up. This is a scary time and just by getting through each day you're really overcoming something challenging. It's nothing that we've ever experienced before or could have anticipated (I would have a LOT more jigsaw puzzles in my house if I had done). If scrolling through Tiktok for hours or napping or watching old boxsets from the start again is making you feel better then do that, and live your teenage dream. 

This whole thing is a rough ride, and we don't need to beat ourselves up along the way for holding ourselves to a standard that we wouldn't do when we're not having to face a global pandemic. And yes, if you're finding you're capable of filling every hour with something productive and it's helping you, then that's great, but none of us should feel guilty for not doing 'enough' right now.

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  1. I did a post like this about a week or so ago, because I was feeling guilty (and I'm a GenXer). I am on "emergency leave" and being paid, but I was not using those extra 12+ hours a day in any productive fashion. I am not sure if it was guilt I was feeling, but I was feeling as though I missed an opportunity. Nobody thought it would last this long, so I didn't want to make any long term plans. But, I know I am lucky too. My job is secure, and I don't have small children (my only child is over 700 miles away in quarantine). Alas, time is such a precious commodity, it's hard not to want to do something when being presented with an excess of it

  2. I LOATH the weird expectation there is to have a "side hustle" and that that is something we should be focusing on right now. Lock-down is definitely a good opportunity to grow hobbies or interests, but I think we need to put more emphasis on doing those things when it works for you. Like you said, a lot of our brains are pretty occupied right now, so what matters is coping as best as we can.

    Hope you're doing well!


  3. I totally agree with this. I'm a carer for my brother, so I basically work at home every day, so not much has changed for me, staying home wise. It's a stressful and weird time for everyone at the moment and I can really relate to this post. I hope you're doing well x



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