Why You Shouldn't Feel Productivity Guilt During Quarantine
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Why You Shouldn't Feel Productivity Guilt During Quarantine

Seriously — we have enough going on as it is.

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Why You Shouldn't Feel Productivity Guilt During Quarantine

Modern Americans live in a culture of non-stop activity, and unfortunately college students are no exception. It isn't enough to attend classes full-time anymore; we're expected to work part-time jobs, participate in clubs and organizations, volunteer, develop our hobbies, maintain our physical and mental health, and apply for internships. In an increasingly competitive job market, having a degree alone just won't cut it. Employers are looking for experienced young adults who have proven themselves already in their chosen field.

While I certainly don't think it's a bad thing to improve yourself and stay dedicated to your goals, it seems in the last few years that self-worth has become intertwined with productivity. I personally noticed this damaging cycle early in my own life, and it was perpetuated by the schools I went to as well as various adults in my life. When a child is taught at a young age that doing anything they enjoy makes them lazy, they grow up neglecting hobbies and activities that might have led them to success as an adult. We've been made to believe that forward motion is more important than taking time to appreciate and benefit from the present.

For example, as a child I adored reading — so much so, that I would spend hours every day devouring new books. I loved storytelling and the creative ways that my favorite authors manipulated language to get their ideas across. However, I was told over and over that I was lazy for reading all the time, and needed to develop a real hobby before it was “too late." Of course, that naysayer was proved wrong because my love of reading has helped me gain proficiency in writing. But even today, this old mindset makes it incredibly difficult for me to comfortably engage in any activity I enjoy without feeling guilty. I was made to believe that anything that wasn't school-related (or didn't generate income) was worthless.

How does this apply to the Coronavirus pandemic?

The COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything the world has faced in recent history. We're all scared, confused, and sometimes angry -- rightfully so. The lives that we were used to are completely gone, and we aren't sure when things will ever return to normal. I've seen numerous tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram captions, and LinkedIn articles in the last few months that address the issue of feeling unproductive. People everywhere are finding it difficult to sit still under quarantine, because they've been made to feel as though sitting still is wasting time. As a college student, many of my peers feel hopeless and as though they are failing. Graduates can't find jobs, and study abroad trips and internship programs are all being cancelled. In the matter of only a few days, we've been plucked from our world of Go, Go, Go! and forced to move home, switch to remote classes, and (in some cases) leave our jobs behind. There's a common question hanging in the air for all of us: What next?

Without school or a regular job to keep us acquainted with normalcy, it can feel a bit like we are floating through space, aimless and confused. However, I urge everyone feeling this way to reconnect with their childhood passions. What would you do for fun, if you could? Are there any hobbies or skills you've enjoyed in the past? Is there anything you've wanted to learn, but just didn't have the time? The internet is an incredible resource, and a little creativity goes a long way. Just because an activity doesn't lead to a paycheck or good grades doesn't mean that it isn't worth doing. The societal paradigm we used to live in isn't relevant right now; the overarching priority is no longer financial gain, but self-improvement.

That being said, we have twenty-four hours to fill every day; now that the typical expectations have been suspended, what will you do with them?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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