Flexibility and Patience

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

Allen Saunders

I’ve backed myself into sort of a corner; I said last week that I would avoid writing about COVID-19 because I am, probably like you, absolutely sick of hearing about it. The unfortunate reality is that it is simply a part of our existence now and the sooner we all collectively accept it, the sooner we’ll adjust to this very strange and somewhat unprecedented period in our lives. To ignore that it is happening goes against who I am and what this blog is about at its core: facing trauma, uncomfortable truths, and everything related to that and learning how to overcome it.

Having said all this, I fully support limiting your exposure to content related to COVID-19. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to disconnect from what’s going on in the world and just relax. We are not wired to deal with this kind of stress 24/7. I’ve been spending plenty of time getting lost in Animal Crossing, reading books, rewatching feel-good shows, and playing online with my friends. I highly encourage you do the same and try to stay aware of your capacity to consume COVID-19 news and articles. If you’re at your limit, I’ll see you around. Surely I won’t post exclusively about this virus over the course of the next eight weeks.

For those of you like me that are intensely goal-oriented, this might be a frustrating time for you. Just prior to making the decision to self isolate for the good of mankind, I had an appointment to get my hair done in fabulous rainbow style. I had scheduled my CLEP exam for Information Systems. I was supposed to pick up a cortisol test to check if I have Cushing’s. I was instructed by my ENT to see someone about my chronic bloody nose. All of these things have been put on hold indefinitely.

Part of this is the traveling lifestyle; we had to leave California the day that my exam was scheduled and getting into an ENT usually takes weeks if not months. My hair was a goal specifically related to us being in California however – the birthplace of Pulp Riot is in Los Angeles and I was going to live out a long-term goal to get my hair done at the Butterfly Loft Salon, a place whose work inspires my wildest color dreams. Now that California has a mandatory shelter-in-place order, we’re not going back to California. Theoretically, we’ll be going to New Jersey. But even if I were to settle and decide to get my hair done there instead, I know that going out for something non-essential is irresponsible. And truth be told, my anxiety is bad enough without increasing my chances of exposure.

You might be saying, really? Rainbow hair? That’s what you’re sad about? I know it seems frivolous but this was the One Fun Thing I had on my 2020 Resolutions list. I’m lowkey obsessed with rainbows. Always have been. An ex of mine covered his door with the rainbow art I made for him. For years, when asked my favorite color, I replied, “Rainbow,” because choosing seemed impossible. Up until last year, my wardrobe was at least 75% tie dye. Shit, I even wrote my resolution list in a rainbow pattern.

Goodbye, #12.

Which brings me back to the core of this post – flexibility. I’ve reached acceptance about what is going on in the world and how that impacts my personal goals.

  1. I can’t finish my Associate’s degree because colleges are closing and in order to take the CLEP exams, I have to go to a college. The only way this would be possible is if I crammed the six courses I need in the last six months of the year. This is assuming a bit plus I struggle to shove coursework into my head like I could as a teenager. For now, I’ve decided it’s best to just table getting my degree in 2020.
  2. Now is the perfect time to write so my novel, Mirror Walker, should be getting plenty of attention. However, I’ll come back to the idea of productivity later.
  3. See above.
  4. Truth be told, my anxiety and fatigue has been too intense for physical activity. I was working myself up to it – going for walks, mostly, but now that I’m more or less afraid to go outside, I’m restricted to at home workouts. And I have a lot of Feelings about accelerating my heart rate. I should probably just get back into yoga. But I’m not beating myself up about having a hard time Doing A Productive Thing because stress takes an enormous toll on our ability to Do The Thing. Sometimes, you just have to focus on breathing and laughing and waking up to see another day.
  5. Depending on what happens with Nick’s work, this may or may not be possible. I am not eliminating it for now but I am keeping in mind that if it becomes mandatory for him to take time off (in all honesty, I think it’s more a matter of When rather than If), our budget is going to get tight and we won’t have much in the way of excess for saving. We’ll see.
  6. See above.
  7. I’ve been doing pretty decent on the meditation. I’ve had some lapses but I think I’m definitely maintaining a three times per week average. It’s been… immensely helpful lately. If you’re to add anything to your new, quarantine lifestyle, I highly, highly recommend doing at least five or ten minutes of meditation when you first wake up.
  8. Up to 35! Hopefully people are reading online blogs more!
  9. So far, so good!
  10. SMART goals: Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound. This goal is all of them. Possibly too specific.
  11. I’ve only thought about drinking a few times, including earlier today. It’s kind of reassuring to me; it makes me think maybe I don’t have as much of a problem as I thought I did. I’m terribly glad I took a sobriety break but I think I will likely return to drinking at the end of the year.
  12. Well, I already went on a whole tangent about this!

I’ll likely redo my resolution list. Or maybe I’ll just accept that some of these things became impossible and that’s just how it goes sometimes. Either way, I’m not beating myself up about things being thrown out of whack by circumstances totally out of my control.

Right now, what’s more important than ~being productive with our time~ like the good little capitalists we’ve been trained to be is being patient with ourselves. Learning new skills, writing a novel, making an album, whatever things you think you should be doing aren’t required. It’s just as valid to catch up from years of sleep deprivation, play the video games that have been gathering digital dust in your Steam library, or just eat a lot of popcorn while you watch The Good Place. The expectation that we’re going to keep pushing ourselves to perform at the same level we normally would if there wasn’t a fucking pandemic happening is not only unreasonable, it’s harmful. Your happiness, mental stability, and comfort are infinitely more important than saying a year from now, “Oh yeah, I learned Python during the quarantine and then designed the #1 app on Google Play.” Or whatever code they use for apps. Who cares. You get my point. Fuck forcing productivity so you can feel like you deserve to be alive. Take care of yourself.

For me, writing is something I can not live without. It’s why I have a blog, why I’ve been journalling like it’s 2002, why I’ll be pouring myself in my novel starting April. If this wasn’t who I was at my core, wasn’t something I already wanted to do, I wouldn’t be pushing myself to suddenly accomplish it. If you need something productive to do to keep yourself sane, though, by all means, do it! My overall point is that modern western culture has bamboozled us into thinking our level of productivity is directly related to our worth. It is not. Period.

The upside of this particular sort of trauma is that it’s a collective trauma, meaning we’re all going through it together. I know it’s not the same as seeing people in person, but keep connecting digitally. You’re far from alone in this. We’re all figuring this out together. And remember, this isn’t forever. Things will go back to normal eventually. Just hang in there.

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