This is a public issue of Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice. Feel free to share it!
Hi Friends! How’s everyone doing? My friend taught me a new answer to this question, which is, “I’m pandemic-okay.” Like, all things considering, I’m okay. Could be better. Could be much worse. Definitely having some vivid, anxiety-inducing dreams lately.
I came across this image the other day and I found it wildly helpful so I wanted to share it with you:
“You’re only unproductive by the standards of the world we lived in two months ago and that world is gone now.”
This feels really fucking awkward for me, a person whose personality revolves on the idea of productivity. Yes, I know this is A Problem™ primarily caused by capitalism. In fact, I keep the following image in my favorites on my phone:
“Your worth is not measured by your productivity.”
I know this intellectually, but it is a constant struggle for me emotionally. I was raised in communities that embraced the idea of Black exceptionalism, which is a whole-ass problem in itself. I won multiple “Black student awards” in grade school. It wasn’t until I was older, acknowledging that there were maybe 5 Black kids in my class, how deeply fucked up this was.
I also have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It’s managed with medication, but note that it is managed, never cured. Sometimes it means that I make wonderfully cute donuts but refrain from taking a pair of tweezers and placing the sprinkles on individually, ya dig?
Last week’s donuts were lemon poppyseed and had no sprinkles anyway:
I’m telling you all this to say: I am always trying to do The Most™. I’m always “Extra,” as the kids say. Everything is 5-star.
Except now, during a fucking pandemic, when it gets to be 3pm and I’m like, “Did I even brush my teeth today?” I will frequently feed myself cereal for lunch. There is no such thing as 5-star cereal, folks.
In the beforetimes (before the pandemic), Nicole and I would do the following dance:
“What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know, what do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know, nothing sounds good.”
“I don’t know either. I think I’m too hungry to decide.”
I would start to recommend things to her that she would shoot down, or I would shoot down her ideas. So I started saying, “Not every meal has to be 5-star.” Sometimes the fact that it is food and we are getting nutrients into our bodies is enough.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
“Not every meal has to be 5-star.”
I’ve begun using this phrase more in my day-to-day. Every email I send doesn’t have to be 5-star, it’s enough that I respond to the email. Not every outfit while sheltering at home needs to be an actual outfit, it’s enough that I changed my underpants. I do not have to “make the most” out of every day, it’s enough that I just get through some days.
Not every newsletter issue needs to be a deeply poignant, Pulitzer-prize winning piece. It’s enough that I am writing it on time and staying connected.
I’ve often struggled with the things in between 5-star and utter crap, with accepting that it’s okay for things to be just okay. Being in a pandemic is quite the punch in the face in a lot of ways, and forcing me to l̶o̶w̶e̶r̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶a̶r̶d̶s̶ not be the fucking wacko I usually am is a very hard lesson that I’m obviously still trying to learn.
On top of all this, the idea of “okay” is a moving target right now. As always, we all need to define it for ourselves. We also need to acknowledge that it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes I have to fight back tears in the grocery store because people aren’t giving me space. Not every trip outside the apartment is going to be a 5-star experience. Patience is fickle right now. Not every interaction with a loved one is going to be a 5-star conversation.
Not every day is going to be a 5-star day. And that’s okay.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to forward it to a friend and/or give me a tip! Yes, my tip jar looks different because the previous platforms took a cut and some people don’t like that. <whispers> It’s me; I am “some people.”