By Anne T. Donahue
We’ve made it to mid-November, and everything is exhausting (especially completing basic day-to-day tasks). And while I’d like to use this platform to offer a direct injection of positivity, I’m at the point that whenever anybody dare suggest I find the silver lining in our current circumstances, I spend at least 72 straight hours fantasizing about breaking their spirit like one of the PG&E lawyers in Erin Brockovich.
So here is the pep talk I need and the one I will also share with you. Mainly because we have no choice but to soldier on, and that’s the only mantra I’m comfortable embracing. Also because it’s 10 in the morning and I am already so tired that I’m seriously considering a nap. Which, for the record, is certainly not an indicator for anything good, heaven help me.
Here’s the thing about 2020: it’s damned and we know it. Outside the flicker of hope in the wake of the American election, we’re back on track to evolve into corn husk dolls who can barely handle standing, let alone be productive enough to buy groceries or pay our bills. But too bad. We have to buy groceries. We have to feed ourselves. And while I know we also have to pay our bills, I choose not to acknowledge this in our pep talk because nothing drains you of the will to do anything at all like remembering that almost everything we earn aren’t dollars we get to keep.
Even though, yes, we still have to pay our bills.
And to get through this reality, we have to remember that the only choice we have is to work in increments: sit down and do enough that you can justify taking a nap at noon. Write a paragraph, answer an email, and then sit on the kitchen counter eating a sleeve of Breton crackers for breakfast because they’re delicious and time isn’t real. Type a sentence, then scroll through Instagram, making a list of everyone you’ve seen in large, unmasked groups, acting as though they’re the exception to our pandemic nightmare. They’re not. And now they’re your enemies. And nothing will fuel productivity like the rage for someone who wears their masks under their noses. (We could’ve had Christmas because of you, you monsters.)
But here’s what’s more important than some guide to doing something when you want to do nothing: you’re a tough bitch. And not in the empty #girlboss sense of the word. You have stared hell directly in the face and evaded its grasp, cackling. You have endured the worst in ways people you’re close with are unaware of. You have made it this far, pandemic aside, and you’ll be damned if the competence of a government or people under said government is going to be what breaks you. Guess what: we’re all tired. We’re all depressed. We’re all unmotivated. Did I want to write this? Truthfully, I want to take a nap next to my cat, and then spend the rest of the day watching reality television, but here I am because baby steps are the only way we’ll eventually march out of this germ-centric nightmare. Plus, I needed to pep talk myself, because lately I’ve felt accomplished if I’ve folded a sweatshirt and put it away.
So remember that: you’re not weak, you’re not a disappointment, you’re not lagging behind. You, friend I’ve never actually spoken to in real life, are doing your goddamn best and that’s got to be good enough because there’s no other option. We all feel like we’re falling apart, and we’re all being held together by glue and coffee, but we’re going to keep moving forward because that’s the choice we have amidst this international shitshow. Everybody feels exactly as shitty as everybody else. And while to some that might seem depressing, I take solace in knowing that I’m not alone in my tiredness/sadness/depression/anxiety. And that even doing the bare minimum is a feat to be celebrated, not something to be ashamed of. The days of lusting after accolades and “look what I did!” are over. If you’ve made it through the morning without flinging your laptop across the room, you’re doing a damn fine job.
And a year ago I wouldn’t have considered this a pep talk. Frankly, I likely would’ve considered it a sign of a major depressive episode I’d need to prep my therapist about. But the world has changed, and so have all of us. And with those changes comes the need to embrace that you are getting done what needs to be done, timing and nap necessity be damned. You’re strong and determined and terrifying in a good way, but you’re in touch with your feelings enough that you’re willing to be vulnerable and soft and express that you’re having a hard time, too. And all of that’s impressive as hell. You’ve got such a lock on who you are and what you need and how you feel that you exist in a place that allows you to acknowledge how difficult it is to march on while still doing it because you have to, for whatever reason there is. To me, that’s awe-inspiring. It’s amazing. And it’s certainly better than that #hustle garbage we were all peddling before. It takes guts to be a fucking person. And babe, you’ve got it in spades.
So is everything still terrible? Do we all still want to perish? Absolutely. But look at us: we both made it to the end of this piece and are still standing/sitting/laying down. Which is one thing more than we accomplished ten or twenty minutes ago. So: onward. Let’s go. Even if it’s to the kitchen to make another cup of tea.
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