The minute quarantine first happened it seemed like everyone kicked into high gear. We all started posting videos of our our workouts, DIY projects, and to-do lists. (To everyone who suffered through our living-room yoga hyperlapses, WE’RE SORRY OKAY.) The reasoning was, of course, that we have more free time, which translates to more productivity!
Then we all read that NYT article telling us to stop trying to be productive, you know which one I mean, and suddenly realized that spending an afternoon clutching a bottle of gin and weeping is perfectly acceptable — as long as you don’t make it a daily habit.
You’re fine. I’m fine. We’re all fine here.
One important lesson we’ve learned in isolation is that instant gratification is pretty much the only way to survive. Sure, we could use our free time to create long-term goals. We could revamp the kitchen, or learn a new language, or balance our diets so we can finally get that coveted six-pack. After all, it’s not like we really have anything better to do. But then again, why bother if we have to wait to enjoy it?
We’ve realized there’s a certain value to be had in doing things because they make you happy in the moment. It’s the kind of epiphany, as they say, that hits you on a regular Tuesday afternoon when you least expect it — usually with the weight and grace of a large, obese flamingo. Epiphanies aren’t always pretty, guys.
It came about because I, Katie, have been going through the prolonged process of cleaning and repainting my nails every 2-3 days — let’s face it, the constant hand washing is murder for nail polish — when G posed a question:
“Why do you keep doing that?” he asked. “No one is going to see them.”
This gave me pause. He was right. I wouldn’t be flourishing my Garden of Eden or Carnival Sparkle nails at the pub any time soon. No one was going to see them or appreciate them except for me. So why put in the time and trouble to maintain them?
Simply put, it’s something I don’t have to wait long to feel happy about. A mere half-hour later and voila! I am bouncing about with newly hued nails.
The same applies to almost every activity we’ve started doing in isolation lately. Daily workouts take time and effort, and at the rate things are going we won’t be showing off our beach-bods in the near future, so why bother? Well, we just don’t care about the long-term payoff, but rather the rush we get immediately after completing a workout video.
Superficial? Maybe. But it works.
Even keeping the flat consistently clean can be explained the same way. Gone are the days where we did it out of fear that someone would stop by and secretly judge us for being messy. Now we do it because it offers an instant sense of satisfaction. Also, as a couple married under quarantine, we’d descend into filth alarmingly fast if we didn’t. Yes, it’s a chore, but the immediate outcome makes it worthwhile.
So there ya go, you have permission to NOT be productive in the same way you have permission to do things ONLY because they bring you instant gratification.
Eat an entire chocolate cake. Wash your sheets. Make friends with the squirrel that lives in your garden. Or, lie on the floor and clutch a bottle of gin for an afternoon. God knows we have.
We’re certainly not going to judge you for it. This is, after all, week two of me switching between sweatpants and an old flannel shirt (which, Gaurav helpfully keeps reminding me, makes me look like a hobo) and jeans and an old University of Texas sweatshirt (which, Gaurav helpfully keeps reminding me, makes me look like a hobo).
But you know what?
I dress like that BECAUSE IT MAKES ME HAPPY. Okay, I lied. Sometimes it’s because I’m too sad to climb out of my sweatpants and into regular clothes, and that’s okay too.
Apparently peak isolation couture is hipster hobo-wear, people. But at least my nails are painted Starball Party and we just got a gin delivery.
Anyone fancy a re-watch of Zoolander?