Photo credit: Sid Ghosh Photography
The two dreaded “P” ’s of Coronatimes: patience and productivity. If you’re anything like me, your current existence wavers between the sensation of having a rug pulled swiftly from underneath you, and from it being pulled verrrrrrry slowly as you bear witness to the fall. The fall I am referring to is not one you are taking, but rather the systems and structures we have built our lives, dreams and existences around. It’s painful, inevitable, heartbreaking at times with all the death and suffering we are observing on a global level yet exhilarating at other times when we think about the possibilities of what can and will emerge.
We are currently in the midst of collective traumatic experience. The pace at which it occurred was swift, and with no particular end in sight, the consequences we face are unknown. So, what’s with all this “productivity pressure?”
I feel it’s a collective trauma response.
A controversial tweet by one @thejeremyhaynes which recently went viral reads:
At present, this tweet has been ‘liked’ more than 16, 000 times and responded to almost 9000 times. Contrary to what the ‘likes’ suggest, the written responses are visceral and far less enthusiastic by many ranging from exhausted parents, families, those who don’t have access to said opportunities. Having done years of therapy in understanding my psyche, my personal feeling and lived experience is that resorting to hyper-productivity and over-achieving is most certainly a trauma response. It’s not right or wrong; it just is. If starting a new business or cramming to complete a four-year degree in one year is how some people chose to navigate these unprecedented and unpredictable times, then all the power to them. The more important thing here is to take a moment and mindfully ask yourself: “Where am I running? For what purpose? What’s motivating me? What’s my end goal?” If it’s for the sake of arriving at a destination that you envisioned in our pre-COVID paradigm, the destination you’re running towards is a moving target. Does the journey towards that moving target feel good? If so, then don’t let the guilt and measure of “productivity” stop you.
However, if the attainment of said moving target feels like you’re grasping at straws to feel some sense of control or feel like you should be doing something with all your “free time” just because, you know, you just should. Know that you have permission to put a pin in that bubble. If it’s genuinely not rooted in something that brings you joy, neither you nor those socially distanced around you will reap positive benefits from it. Let it combust.
Give yourself time and space. Trust in the unfolding.
I am as guilty as the next person of getting caught up in the productivity hamster wheel. I still catch myself doing it. I’ve chased goals thinking they would be the answer to the pain and hurt I was feeling inside. As a performer, if I could just be seen enough, maybe the feeling of being unseen and unheard as a child would disappear. So let me train, work, produce, chase, strive, achieve, and then repeat.
In my pursuit to connect and communicate, I was ultimately manifesting the opposite, the irony.
To perform is to communicate. To offer yourself vulnerably and unapologetically is to connect. To rawly harness both the darkness and the light. I am truly enjoying creating this content, sharing my thoughts and musings with whoever may read this (which may just be my mom, thanks Mom!), regardless of the likes or comments. It brings me joy to communicate my thoughts and to spark dialogue with each other and within ourselves.
We have a God/Mother Nature/Universe-given opportunity to practice patience this very moment. We have the chance to acknowledge patience as productivity. Because at the end of the day, there truly is no destination. We exist solely on the journey.
We are, after all, human beings - not human doings.
Trust the process. Trust the journey.
📖 Journal Prompts 📖
1. What does it mean to you to just “be”? When did you last feel you could just “be”? Describe the sights, sounds, smells, etc. forming in your mind
2. Where in your life have you not felt seen, acknowledged or heard? How has the notion of “productivity” or actual “productivity” ever felt like a way to escape those feelings? What did that process look/feel like for you?
3. What is a goal you have set for yourself? It could be big or small, just something meaningful to you. (Can write about more than one)
4. Are you enjoying the process of attaining that goal? If yes, how? If no, why not?