In a world where productivity trends dominate the internet and every other Instagram post is someone proudly displaying the skills they developed and the DIY creations they poured time into making over quarantine, it is easy to feel as if you didn’t do enough to make the most of a time of isolation.
It is important to remember that there is no set standard for how much ought to get done when you are banished to your home. Success shouldn’t be measured by how much is outwardly accomplished, but by the inner reward gained by taking the time to learn, contemplate and grow.
Those who took the time to relax over the past five months did something just as incredible as those who deep cleaned their closets and became dedicated to physical fitness — they let their minds and bodies rest. For college students, that is nearly unheard of.
Having the time to take a step back and evaluate mental well-being is a rarity and a gift, and there should be no guilt or remorse for spending quarantine lounging around the house with your eyes glued to a laptop screen. If you felt that during quarantine you could unwind, let go or breathe easier, you did more than enough.
The age we are living in now is uncharted territory, and there is no right or wrong way to have spent your time since last spring break. Resist the pressure from others and from yourself that says if you weren’t reaching your full potential you are lesser than those who constantly moved and made physical improvements in their lives. Society demands busyness from its members but doesn’t take into account the benefits of rest.
Above all, give yourself some grace. The way the world worked up until March is no longer the standard. No matter how badly we may wish for life to go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, it isn’t going to happen. But quarantine and social distancing haven’t come without their own hidden blessings: we have had ample time to focus on our well-being. When else would we be given five months where we could take each day one step at a time without being expected to be extraordinarily social?
As the new academic year begins, it’s vital to take a step back and make sure you aren’t allowing too much to be put on your plate. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, know it is okay to take time to relax, like so many people were able to do over the summer. Be gracious to yourself and to others, and be proud of yourself for taking it slow these last few months.
Your value and worth do not come from the works you create or the level of organization found in your home. It isn’t selfish to say “no” to others to focus on yourself and your own mental, emotional or spiritual well-being.
Quarantine brought out the best in a lot of people. Some people focused on creating projects. Some people focused on eating right and working out. Others put forth efforts that didn’t produce physical results, but that doesn’t make their successes any less valuable. It is completely okay to haven taken it slow and to continue taking it slow through the uncertainty of the upcoming semester.