Right before the pandemic hit in march, I was in the middle of taking my first steps towards a normal life again. It had been several months of battling depression and slowly but surely I was leaving the house again. Going to work, getting groceries, enjoying the sunshine on my skin.
But then it all changed.
Like a lot of people, I was stuck at home. And even though the reason for that was more than horrific, I have to admit that the first thing I was feeling wasn’t fear, I was feeling relief.
Mental Health and Avoidance
One thing that needs to be said, is that the relief I was feeling was based on already wanting to avoid going outside for a while before that. But there is something to be said about the pressure I was feeling to perform, as soon as I was feeling just a little better.
Just because I was able to get out of bed and take care of myself, it didn’t mean I was ready for all the responsibilities that were waiting to crash down on me like a huge tsunami wave.
Since everything took so much more time to do than usual, there was no way I could catch up if I spend my time doing anything else.
Even if I don’t want to encourage people with social anxiety or other mental health issues to give in to their fears, I feel like there is a factor that we are sometimes just plain out ignoring.
Time. And the pressure to do as much as we can with it.
Whether it be as someone with a mental illness or just anyone in general. The pressure of having to fit so many things into such a little time frame doesn’t seem normal to me at all.
The Hustle and Bustle We like to Call Life
The actual moment when I noticed, something wasn’t adding up, was when I realized that when there was no bus to catch and nowhere I needed to get to, there weren’t a lot of times where I took an actual break.
Sure, I was eating and sleeping and I did spend a lot of time watching Netflix, but it was sort of just something I did in between working. It wasn’t a real part of my schedule. And sometimes I was doing some of those things while working.
Since I had to do everything in one place and there was no real escape, I was filling my “pauses” from work, with different work.
I just didn’t know how else to navigate my tasks. Since everything took so much more time to do than usual, there was no way I could catch up if I spend my time doing anything else.
Up until yesterday, my therapy sessions have been online because of Social Distancing. It was the first time, I had to be somewhere that wasn’t my desk/bed/couch and also at a certain time. It made me realize how much of my time I was normally spending just trying to get from A to B.
I couldn’t imagine, how I was ever able to do everything before I was forced to stay home.
But that made me realize something. I was able to do everything before.
So why was it so much harder, now that I had even more time?
The Efficient Being
It’s no secret that a lot of us have turned into machines.
We do as we’re told, we rarely take breaks, and the only times we stop is to fuel up.
You need to be able to finish as many things as possible, in as little time as possible, so you can take a break as soon as possible. And what do these breaks look like?
Could be the weekend, could be a holiday, could be retirement. Could even just be the end of the day. As long as it’s ASAP.
But this is old news, you might be thinking. Haven’t we already started to change the way we work? Aren’t there more and more jobs that are supposed to be fun and make you feel like you’re not working at all?
That might be true. But it feels like we took something old and ugly and just put some paint on it without fixing it first.
The Fun Place
With the rise of new ways to work, we have also seen a lot of twisted things happening. The workplace is supposed to be as attractive as possible. And if you have the coolest workplace, you win.
Company benefits? Nice!
A gym membership and a shower for right after? Great!
The possibility to stay at your office forever and ever and ever? Count me in!
I do agree that it should be a high priority to make your employees feel as comfortable as possible. But shouldn’t it also be a high priority to make sure they take breaks? To ensure that they’re not overworking themselves? That they find time for their families and friends?
It’s true that if you’re lucky enough, your workplace shouldn’t be something you dread going to, but the lines between your personal and work life should not be blending in such an effortless way.
No wonder we don’t know how to manage our time properly if all this machine is supposed to do is to work.
Now, I took a lot of time talking about modern-esque jobs and how they might be misleading. But another thing that has come into focus in this pandemic is an evergrowing divide between those fortunate people that have a job, to begin with, and those, that wouldn’t even know what a so-called Home Office is supposed to be.
We get so caught up with our so important lives, that we forget that there are other people out there, too. We forget that there is a whole world to worry about. And that we maybe need to do a little more for it than the things we already barely find time for.
The New Normal
I’m not saying that it’s easy to live in this fast-paced world.
On the contrary, it’s hard. In fact, it’s so hard that it makes it near impossible to be thinking about anything else.
We are all struggling, it’s true. But if we had more time and energy, maybe there would be much more that we could be doing for the people around us.
It wouldn’t be too bad to be able to just stop, and look at what has been happening around us not just now, but for decades.
To stop and see that if we are struggling so much with life, we will never be able to help anyone. We won’t be able to make real changes. Neither in our own lives nor the lives of others.
A lot of people are already trying. But the weight of the world is simply too heavy, to be carried by just a few people here and there. And those people will inevitably need a break as well. Maybe if we all took just a little more time, instead of just falling back into our old patterns, there could be room for a New Normal.
Also, let’s maybe help each other out a little. This whole thing hasn’t been easy for any of us.