My Facebook feed has been a really interesting place lately.
In addition to the funny memes, there are posts encouraging me to think positive and choose gratitude right now. I have seen several FB lives about how to turn my fear into fuel, to transform my moments of worry and doubt into faith and confidence. People are telling me that NOW is the time to set goals, have spiritual breakthroughs, and be more productive with all my free time.
First, let me just say that I don’t have gobs of free time. Between seeing clients, running my business, “teaching” my child, grocery shopping, laundry, and otherwise making sure my house does not fall down, free time is hardly at a premium right now. And if I do have a spare moment, I’m more likely to stare out the window blankly as I am to figure out how I can cram more shit into my day.
Second, I believe that while ( probably) unintentional, it is a damaging, subtly shaming message to insinuate that simply making it through this devastating time in our world right now is not enough. That we somehow should be doing more or different than we are. That somehow, if we are not using this time to live our best life, we are less worthy than those who are. That those who have really dug deep and taken advantage of this time ( whatever the fuck THAT means) will somehow emerge on the other side brighter, happier, more prepared and well, better humans than those of us who binged on Netflix, took a lot of naps and did not feel one ounce of gratitude.
There is nothing at all wrong with being productive and getting shit done IF it feels good to you. Gratitude helping you make if through this hard time? Fantastic! Count your blessings till the cows come home. I’m not opposed to any of these things. What does piss me off is the message that if we are not doing all this, we are somehow less than those who are. We are not obligated to do anything right now ( or ever) that does not enrich our lives in some way simply because we now have space on our calendars to do it.
In that spirit, I made a list to remind me that while I can do the following things while I am sheltering in place, I am by no means required to in order to have any value as a human.
- Go through, clean out, give away, declutter, organize, throw away, remove, reorganize or in any way change or alter any living space in my house.
- Make Disney-esque memories with my child while we are living in the same space together (mostly) 24/7. This includes elaborate craft projects, Pinterest worthy dinners, special snuggle and story times, going through his baby book with him and recalling every milestone or in any other way putting pressure on myself to make this Pandemic something he will look back at fondly because of our time.
- Exercise/diet. Honestly, I like to exercise so I have been walking. And I’m not gonna bust out the water jugs as makeshift weights and make sure I get 3 sets of bicep curls in. Eating chocolate daily feels really good to me right now so I am doing that. My life does not have to turn into an episode of Extreme Makeover or The Biggest Loser by the time our quarantine has ended simply because my calendar is empty. And neither does yours.
- And speaking of self improvement, I am not inclined at this time to vision or plan or set goals or implement my next phase of how I can have an amazing life. Frankly, I am calling it a win most days if I get out of my Pj’s. I know there is ample space and time to create, evolve, dream, etc. But the wiser next version of myself can wait until my child is back in school and I have a moment to breathe.
- Be grateful or joyous or happy or peaceful or any fucking thing other than what I am. There have been moments where I have felt all those things. There are also moments where I have felt terrified, anxious, judgmental, angry, confused, heartbroken, stressed and trapped. None of these feelings and states is inherently worse or less true than the others. But what they all are is authentic. I don’t see a need to force ourselves to have an experience we are not actually having just because someone puts a meme on social media about it. That feels like a shit ton of pressure to me in a time when we are all doing our best to make it through the day.
What if the question we were asking right now before we decide to do something is “Will this nourish me?” What if we knew that the answer could change in 5 minutes? Or that we may not even have an answer and we are just going to try something on for size?
I propose this is a softer, more gentler inquiry than “Will this make me feel more productive, accomplished, AKA worthy in any way?” You already are worthy, pandemic or not. And who among us could not use ( more) softness and gentleness in this shit storm? I know I could . And I’m betting you could too.
With So Much Love,