Fast-paced. Before COVID-19 forced us to stay in quarantine, it seemed as if people were always on their way to work, school, the gym, the mall, or their next big step. The lights of the city would continuously blaze our eyes, and honking of cars would blare through the night. The world felt as if it was always moving, shouting, thundering forward. This was our normal. However, when the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, it felt as if everything came to an abrupt halt. People staggered and stumbled, confused and frustrated on what to do, at the moment, and what to do next. How will we move like we used to?
As a recent college graduate, I was beyond lost. I mapped out my whole year– to go to the gym regularly, to travel with my friends after graduation, to go to Japan, to find a job by June, to feel as if I were doing something productive with my life. I used to believe that doing things, being “productive,” meant I was living life well, that I was doing something with my life. When my plans were thrown out of the window, my thoughts and emotions crashed down on me as if it were waiting to swallow me whole. I thought that watching a YouTube video, binging a TV series, or just needing to rest my mind simply doing nothing, was bad. I thought that me not getting a job meant I wasn’t being good enough for myself. I thought that me being lost in knowing what to do next was wrong because it meant I wasn’t being productive.
It’s not a pretty process to deal with these types of thoughts, especially when it’s yourself who’s the one saying it to you. And I’m not going to deny that I do not get these thoughts anymore, because I do. These thoughts then became emotions, emotions that I consistently swat away by busying myself with work or other activities. I saw them as dangerous, simply because they hurt. However, after a talk with one of my friends, I soon realized it wasn’t my emotions that were the problem, it was my relationship with them. Our emotions are a part of us, and though they seem like our worst enemy, they can also be our best friend. Our emotions will tell us the things other people would be afraid to tell us. Our emotions will allow us to release the thoughts that consume our mind. On the other side of the coin, our emotions let us experience joy, humor, happiness, excitement. When we shut out the seemingly negative emotions, we also deny ourselves to feel the positive ones too. The more we ignore how we’re feeling, we can become indifferent. We can end up not even knowing what makes us sad or happy anymore. The more we become indifferent, the more lost we become. The more we agonize over what we’re feeling.
During quarantine, when we’re at home and have the freedom to do what we want, one would think there would be less pressure to be productive. Yet, from what we feel, it can result in becoming an event of overwhelming pressure. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be excellent, to be productive, because we know we are more than mediocre. I think that’s great. What I think isn’t great is when we box “being productive,” and “being good enough,” into pushing ourselves to work and trudge forward when we need to slow down, reflect, and take a step back. There’s nothing wrong with needing to take a break from the world.
There is dignity in rest, there is dignity in everything we do.
We are worthy just by existence, the actions we make after conception are how we continue to show our dignity to everyone else. We don’t need to do something special to be good enough, because we already are. Though this is hard to accept fully, it all starts with the thought to respect ourselves, to be there for ourselves first, so that we could be there for others in the future.
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Published: September 4, 2020
Written by Rica Ilagan, WYA Asia Pacific Program Development Intern
Learn more about the WYAAP Online Internship by visiting bit.ly/wyaaponlineinternship.