By Anne T. Donahue
It’s October! Fall is happening! We’re finally in the midst of a season defined by autumnal beverages, beautiful leaves, and various horror marathons on AMC! Are you excited? I’m excited!
Just kidding, I’m exhausted.
I am tired in a way that makes it impossible to summon enthusiasm for almost anything. I am tired in a way that makes typing this sentence feel like I’m working an overnight floorset shift at the mall. (If you’ve worked retail, you know.) I oscillate between wanting to cry and wanting to curl up and stare at the ceiling and wanting to sleep and wanting to shotgun ginger ale because ginger ale is delicious and it brings me happiness. Since March, I’ve assumed this feeling would finally go away and I’d join up with my old self and resume business as usual. But then, that didn’t happen. And now it’s October, and in Ontario, we’re entering the second wave of our viral nightmare, and the only goal I have is to maybe get a PlayStation. That’s where I’m at now: all I want to do is play Crash Bandicoot and Tony Hawk and lose myself in my complete inability to play video games well. While eating fig newtons.
And you know what? I think that’s fucking fine.
There’s been so much talk about self care and about trying to preserve one’s motivation and about how we’re all in the midst of an unapologetic hurricane of worst-case scenarios, but let’s try our best anyway. And while I believe we should ensure that our consistent feelings of sadness and frustration and anger and (and, and) should never be at the detriment of another person (read: please don’t hurt anyone, and don’t hurt yourself), I do believe that right now, it’s okay to be in it. It’s okay to take longer. It’s okay to feel tapped out. It’s okay to feel sick at the idea of winter, or even November because fuck that month, truly. It’s okay to not be okay, but not in the motivational poster sense of the word. It’s okay not to be okay in that it is normal to feel broken. It is okay to hate survival mode and want it to stop in the same way you want a stomach flu to stop. It’s okay to feel nothing when you see reminders of how fucked up everything is, or on the flip side: okay to feel nothing but pure, unadulterated feelings when engaging in, say, the news or the state of the world. And it’s even more okay to lean into those feelings because what else are we supposed to do? We’re descending on the second phase of a nightmare, accessorized by equally pressing nightmares. How do you package this any way other than “I am so tired and I am living in hell”?
You don’t. But you do get through it, because as isolated as we all feel, we know that everybody feels the same way. We know that our friends and family and strangers and the supermarket are tired too and lonely and battling headaches and jaw pain from the days, weeks, months (and years) of clenching. And then on top of that, you do what you need to do to get through this minute, hour, day, and you don’t kick yourself for being a bad worker or bad person or bad mom or dad. Sure, maybe so-and-so is blogging their hearts out on Instagram Stories, but fuck it. You’re going to listen to a podcast on a mafia don because you need to know that at least you’re not facing racketeering charges. Or something.
Over the last week I’ve not given up, but given up on trying to keep up with idea of what being a productive person is. Right now, breathing is productive. Buying hand sanitizer is productive. Making it to the end of the day is productive. Admitting how shit everything feels and then going about your day anyway is productive, too. This fall will not feel like the autumns before it because it can’t. But you will make it through because there’s no other choice. Or we will, because what else am I going to do? I’m in this right there with you.
Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!