You don’t have to write a novel, just take care of yourself

| Senior Editor

As I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram for far longer than I’d like to admit, I recently stumbled upon the following post: “If you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill, your side hustle started [and] more knowledge, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.”

This message echoes that of countless posts I’ve seen online throughout the last few weeks. Time after time, I see people pushing the idea that if you’re not spending your time at home taking on some new project, you’re wasting it.

While I agree with the sentiment that, for those who may have newfound time on their hands, working on something they’ve always wanted to pursue but never had a chance to is a great use of time, the narrative that you’ve failed if you didn’t learn a new language, start a podcast or work out more while quarantined is troubling.

We’re in the midst of an international crisis. This is not a worldwide staycation, it’s a pandemic. Tens of thousands of people have died, and that number is only getting higher. If by the end of this, whenever that may be, you can say that you put the physical and mental health of yourself and those around you first, then you’re more than a success in my book.

For Washington University students and many people across the country, being home doesn’t necessarily mean having more time. With classes, familial responsibilities and possibly having to work or do research remotely, our schedules are packed. Some students may even find this period busier than their normal campus lives. And even if you do have extra time on your hands, the extreme anxiety and loneliness that many of us feel right now is so emotionally taxing that just trying to get through the day is exhausting.

If taking on some project, like learning an instrument, starting a blog or finally getting through War and Peace, makes you happy, then absolutely go for it. Hobbies, big or small, can be great stress relievers. Personally, I’ve taken up painting as a way to take my mind off things. But you should do things because you genuinely want to, not because you feel pressure to ‘take advantage’ of a literal pandemic.

I am no stranger to beating myself up for wasting a minute that could have been used more productively. I know how debilitating regret can be, and I struggle with it every day. But I’m trying to remember to go easy on myself right now.

You don’t have to take advantage of your time. Just take care of yourself.

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