Normally when I take an extended break from blogging, it’s because life has gotten busy. This couldn’t be further from the truth right now. I’m now up to 20 weeks of being furloughed from work, with at least another month to go, possibly more.
It’s not even just blogging either. Sitting down to write this is the first time I’ve written anything substantial in two months. I could attribute this to writer’s block, which is true to extent. Life has been on pause for much of 2020, which means I don’t exactly have that much to write about. And yet, a few weeks ago, I scribbled down a fairly long list of potential future blog post ideas. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually write any of them. There’s also other writing projects I could have been working on, which don’t require constant new experiences. Ones I feel like I should have been working on, since I’ve had all this extra free time. But I didn’t, and still haven’t.
I’ve had a complete and total lack of motivation for any of it. It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything. I’ve still done my daily yoga practice, continued studying Spanish, read plenty of books, and been on lots of walks and hikes, as well as an extended visit to my parents. Yet doing anything creative feels like a struggle right now, and I feel drained of all my enthusiasm and inspiration. Please tell me I’m not the only one with a creative outlet who has experienced this, especially this year?
Now, it’s true that I can be very lazy at times. The reason I keep up with yoga and Spanish is that they’re daily practices, a regular habit, which I seldom skip. Writing isn’t really part of my routine like that, because I don’t want it to end up feeling like a chore, or a task to tick off a list, which it started to before I took this break. But I want to rediscover my motivation, and to enjoy using it for self-expression again. So for now, I’m going to try making it a routine again for a while (writing anything, not just blog posts, even if it’s not always that good), to get back into the habit, and remember why I do it in the first place. Hopefully writing this post, even if it’s not the best or most exciting read, is a starting point.
My lack of writing is just one part of the story this year though as well. I’m pretty sure it’s actually a symptom of the larger situation we’re all in right now, so I’m not alone in these sorts of feelings (which is also why I’m writing all this as a public post!). This pandemic is taking its toll on all of us, some in more obvious ways than others. There are days when I feel like I’m coping ok with things, and in some ways, it should be easier now that many restrictions have been lifted, so I’ve been able to get out and about a bit more again.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have days where I feel utterly despondent about it all, and panic that it’s going to last for even longer than we all expect. Many of the restrictions eased have just brought me more anxiety, so I still choose to avoid many of the places that have reopened. My job status makes me anxious too, since Edinburgh’s tourism is almost non-existent, with everyone heading to the countryside instead. And even though I wrote last time about not feeling guilty about not being productive, because it’s a fucking pandemic, I haven’t quite learned to practice what I preach.
Now that the initial lockdown is over (though I’m quite convinced there’ll be a second wave in most places), it feels less like quarantine, and more like an extended paid holiday. Except, normally I travel whenever I take holiday, and that’s not something I’m comfortable about doing yet. So I just feel like I’m wasting so much time. There are so many days where I do very little outside my normal routine, so I feel like I’ve achieved nothing.
There’s definitely a larger debate in there, about the value we as a society place on achievements, success, and productivity, and these things shouldn’t determine our worth, but that’s probably a whole other article in itself. Anyways, this is still a fucking pandemic, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about not being productive during this time. Yet I do.
I also feel like I’m wasting time in the larger sense, because although I’ve never been one for planning far into the future, I did have some idea of what I wanted to do this year, and over the next few. Which all involved travel, and has therefore obviously been postponed (not that there was anything concrete in place). And I know this is out of my control, and everyone is in the same boat, and I’m still young and have time (you know, providing I don’t get hit by a bus next week or anything, cos, you never know). But it’s still so frustrating. It’s like a whole year of our lives has been snatched away.
Although, if anything, this whole situation sort of reinforces my ‘just muddling through life’ approach. I’ve never planned too far in advance, initially because I never knew what I wanted to do; but also in recent years, because I think there are too many factors in life that are beyond our control. If I think too far in advance right now, with all this uncertainty, I just panic again. But even when life is normal, so many people waste too much time thinking about their future, that they forget to experience their present moment, and the life they’re already living right now. Plans get changed and messed up all the time; but the pandemic has exacerbated that massively, so we’ve all had to learn to roll with the punches a bit more. But that still doesn’t mean I’m not constantly frustrated about it all!
The human brain, and especially its mental health, is a funny old beast. The stress and anxiety of a global pandemic, and the resulting economic recession, compounded with the despondency of feeling like I’m wasting time… well, it’s hardly a recipe for creativity, inspiration, and motivation, is it? No wonder I feel emotionally drained most of the time. Although, I don’t like talking about emotions much, so I write about them instead… so not doing that probably hasn’t helped… Ah. Oops.
But anyway, I think I need to reiterate my last post to myself, as I tend to be better at giving out advice on here that following it myself. It’s ok to not be productive right now. This is a huge, global, historic disaster, that we were not mentally, emotionally, practically, or financially prepared for. It’s ok to just cling on day to day, and wait for it to be over. I do want to use this time better, and hopefully this post will be the start of rediscovering some motivation again; but I also shouldn’t be hard on myself if/when I don’t. I’m trying to just stay positive, to focus on what I do have and what I can do, rather than what I don’t or can’t or haven’t. The world is a mess, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless about it all – after all, the pandemic is just one of the myriad of problems we have as a global society. But that’s also a whole other (several) article(s) unto itself, and my brain can’t handle spiralling into that whole cesspool right at this moment, so we’ll just stop this paragraph and leave it for another day I think.
So in summary, not much has changed since my first ‘Quarantine Diary‘. Even though we’re not technically in lockdown or quarantine anymore, my life is far from being back to normal, and the fallout from all this could last even longer. I’m so ready to not be living through a historic event anymore, but that is simply beyond my control. So in the mean time, I just have to keep breathing, and keep looking for ways to cope with it all.