By Anne T. Donahue
To put it plainly, watching anybody be productive right now sends me into a merciless rage. How dare anybody who isn’t me achieve things? How dare they use this time to be creative while I am using it to . . . well, the other night I played Super Mario Bros. for a long time. So that. How dare I be made to feel inferior? To be shamed for thinking it monumental that I wore jeans instead of joggers? How dare anybody live differently than I am right now?
So of course, upon the announcement that Taylor Swift is releasing a follow-up to this year’s folklore with Evermore on this very day, I was faced with all of these questions. (By me, to me.) Ultimately, how dare Taylor Swift, a multi-millionaire Grammy-award winning recording artist, spend her pandemic differently than myself, a woman who could not possibly have less in common with her. How dare she write an album of beautiful songs when all I can write are beautiful tweets? (So, so beautiful.)
Frankly, it’s not that I resent anyone who’s been able to pull their shit together over the last ten-ish months, but come on. Productivity? In this economy? Under this mental and physical strain? Pardon? It’s been only over the last couple of weeks that I’ve come to accept that it’s okay to go at your own pace and not to compare yourself to other people. So, to see anyone achieving anything immediately puts me on the defence. AKA: So what, you think you’re better than me?
But truth be told, nobody does. (Or if they do, it certainly has nothing to do with a pandemic and honestly? They probably are.) In the same way I’ve trained myself not to feel bad about doing less, I have to learn not to feel bad about others doing more. Some people thrive in a crisis. Others do their best work under incredible amounts of stress. Some really do write our era’s equivalent of King Lear. Some are Taylor Swift, making records. And not a single one is keeping me (or you, if you’re like me) in mind while going about their business. We all cope in a variety of ways. Some do so by making art. It doesn’t mean our own approach to staying afloat is any less important. The name of the game is survival. (And, well, many conversations about Taylor Swift’s variety of coats.)
Does this mean I’m going to stay up until midnight to download and bask in the glow of Evermore? No, because I like to go to bed early, and if I’m up consuming any media, it’s episodes of Real Housewives from 2013. But I am going to work on my knee jerk reaction; on the belief that when someone is doing better, it’s a personal attack on the way I feel like I’m barely keeping my shit together. I’m going to try to learn to take my own advice and remember that because someone is thriving, I can’t thrive elsewhere or in other ways. Or that I even need to thrive at all. Also, that we all benefit from the work of other people who take joy in making stuff and sharing it with the rest of us when we’re one step up sentient dust bunnies who live on the floor. Particularly, that when somebody makes something lovely, we can curl up with it and forget about how shitty everything is for a blessed hour or so.
Which, in this case could be Evermore. Or if you’re me tonight, Real Housewives.
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