After an entire month of global lockdown, this is what I have come to realise: Yes, there are fabulous artists around me who are doing their best to stay sane and inspire others. But as a counter-force, there are multiple sources too who are giving birth to a deadly virus called the “productivity-guilt” during this pandemic. Take for example this tweet, which was written with an intention to “motivate”:
Jeremy Haynes @TheJeremyHaynes
“If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:
1.) a new skill
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business
3.) more knowledge
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline.”
This post definitely got me thinking about if I am doing enough to optimise this Covid-19 situation or not. If I am lucky enough to get some free time that I do not want to use to launch a YouTube channel or personal projects — am I somehow letting the social media generation down?
Unfortunately, these queries are just not limited to me as an individual; rather, such insecure thoughts are spreading like wildfire among the youth around us. With this article, a few of their opinions will be highlighted in order to reach out to the ones who are falling victim to frantic productivity because of what I call “productivity-guilt”.
When asking Sabrina Mehzabeen, a 23-year-old undergraduate student, about this matter, she replied, “Yes, I see such productive posts almost every minute, and I am one of those who are only active by giving love/like/wow reacts. I am using my days only to read books and cook for my family, but such posts are pushing me to be happier, thinner, or more studious.”
Mehzabeen’s honest response shows how people are falling into the confines of toxic positivity.
Meher Taz, a 24-year-old, lets us know: “This pandemic has left me anxious, worried and fuming. I have lost close neighbours to the virus, and seen many of my friends run around with sick parents who are not getting treatment. Seeing certain groups of my peers being so productive all the time does make me happy, but the pressure to do something like them always creeps in. It feels like — ‘Am I talented enough if I am not doing what they are doing?’”
Swarna Saha, a seventeen-year-old college student, bravely opens up about her struggles. With her uber productive cousins living with her, certain members of her family, as well as social media, are making her feel less and less confident. She says “I am getting multiple suggestions from my relatives about things to do in my free time. A sweet recommendation list is always welcome, but remarks such as ‘do something today instead of just scrolling’ or ‘make yourself useful like your cousins’ from my elder siblings can definitely take a toll on my emotional health.”
We are all going through a traumatic period right now, which is often being portrayed as a “vacation” on social media. Such enthusiasm is good only to a certain point. There should be no overlooking the fact that there is a virus lurking around us that is killing people and making almost every citizen feel anxious.
So, in this pandemic, if you choose to just spend the day lying in bed, washing your hands obsessively, and watching Netflix to help ease the anguish, it’s not because you “lack the discipline” or “you are not talented enough”, but because you are a human trying to survive in uncertain times.
There is no right way to deal with this, and if you are carrying any guilt for not producing your best work while people are dying, you need to let that go and be kind to yourself.
Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.