We're Human Beings, Not Human Doings

By Emily Green

The first two weeks of quarantine, my morning routine looked the same.

I’d wake up and scroll through the social media posts I’d missed overnight, catching up on what were intended to be inspirational captions of how people were going to use this unanticipated free time to accomplish their loftiest goals–to embark on a glamorous, introspective self-care staycation and come out of it with a fresh perspective on their life, love and their values.

I’d sit down at my desk, attempting to embody the motivational messages I’d just consumed. I’d open my online textbooks, determined to finish college with one last 4.0 semester. I’d call my friends every day. I’d write letters to my grandma. I’d read all of the unread books left on my bookshelf, and maybe write a book of my own while I was at it. I’d create that website I’ve been wanting to create, and build a relationship with the guy I was seeing pre-quarantine.

In all reality, I was sitting down at my computer only to look up an hour later and wonder whether I’d actually read anything at all. I’d scroll through Instagram once again, only to be re-bombarded with more motivational messages. One told me that it was “okay to not be productive,” and the next that “self-care isn’t selfish.” Well I wasn’t being productive, and I wasn’t really caring for myself. It was more like I was living in a hamster wheel going absolutely nowhere.

I realized that nothing I was doing was innately wrong. In fact, all of the things that I was doing are things that I genuinely want to be doing right now–my motives just weren’t right. I tricked myself into thinking that I needed to overcompensate for self-isolation through external validation. To tell the world, “I know you can’t see ‘me’ right now, but look at what I’m doing in the meantime!” I was completely by myself, yes, but I wasn’t spending any time with myself at all.

The reality is that I’m a human being. My worthiness and attractiveness are not found in what I do (or don’t do) during this quarantine. People who appreciate me do not solely appreciate me because of my accomplishments. Of course they do appreciate my accomplishments, but only because they’re authentic expressions of my gifts, passions and personality.

There’s nothing wrong with having lofty goals and wanting to use this quarantine to accomplish every last one of them, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share and celebrate our achievements.

There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to relax and recharge. And there’s certainly no need to glamorize either extreme.