The Misguided Concept of Self-Worth During Covid-19

Naturally, given the lack of travel that is occurring in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have not yet had that spark of inspiration or feel the need to talk about travel in a way that can enlighten us, when most of us are sadly confined to our own homes.

Hence, I've decided to speak about a topic to do with mental health, which I've spoken about briefly in my blog before. I'm aware that there are many articles and many suggestions talking about how to manage your mental health and anxiety during this difficult period. Being confined to these four walls that are suffocating in its own manner, with little to no certainty of the future, makes it a challenge to have hope for the day thought, am I right?

There is no doubt that we can be grateful for the little that we have. Whether it's a job that still pays, a family to love us, a roof over our head, or the very simple fact that we are alive and healthy, the gratitude that comes with being in this position is a privilege indeed.

It's also a pressure forcing us to the ground and not allowing for us to feel what we have to feel in order to be able to process the difficulties of this pandemic.

I feel like we are forgetting that this is not a normal situation.

We are not on holiday. We are not getting time off to pursue our passions or ambitions. It's not to say we can't, but in modern history, this pandemic is the first of its kind that has spread across the world, affecting each and every single individual, no matter race, gender, income background or likewise. You cannot have a conversation that doesn't come back to the dreaded Covid-19.

On this note, is anyone else bothered by how much the Western media has completely been bowled over by this epidemic? I wonder if only China, parts of Africa and some third-world countries had been affected, would the media coverage have been the same? I mean, let's not forget what happened with the Amazon rainforests in mid-2019 and the Australian bushfires later that year. Both were reported fairly late into their crises.

Don't misunderstand me my dear reader, I'm not set out to bring more misery to your day, or the issues we've faced as a society in 2019. Aside from my mini rant, it's come to my attention that there is a definite concern around the idea of self-worth during this epidemic. This is what I would like to address in my writings.

For a fair share of the community, there are people that now have a lot of time on their hands, either due to lack of work, early summer holidays, or unpaid time off. There are suggestions to manage this time by doing something 'productive' and 'creative' to nurture our very souls and make this whole process of getting through this pandemic all the more easier.

I have seen multiple posts talking about what we can do to make this better. Being grateful for the little that we have is the start of it.

That to me is toxic positivity. Quoting from Elle in their recent article, "Toxic positivity is an oppressive tendency to react to others' suffering and struggles with empty and reductive statements of positivity." Truth be told, we can't be positive every minute of every day.

"It diminishes the fact that we are allowed to have other feelings, and discounts the notion that the only way to be okay in life is to be happy."

How can you understand the true feeling of being happy, without allowing yourself to be sad?

The idea or notion that we have to be grateful for what little we have and subdue the voice in our heads that says, 'Hey, I'm kind of struggling here. Can I just feel a little sad at least?' is not the way to move forward. I personally believe that the way to take better steps in our mental health is in kindness to ourselves.

Stop judging yourself from trying to do it all, especially during a time like this.

For some of us, we aren't able to meet our loved ones, our close friends, or even do what we love because of this pandemic. As social animals, how do we thus function if that has been stripped away from us, and through no fault of our own? (Climate change is correlated to human impact OF COURSE, but that's a story for another day).

Let me just say this...

You don't have to do it all.

You don't have to do anything. It is okay to do nothing. It is okay, to not be able to do anything. It is okay, to be anxious about the future that you have zero control over. Your self-worth is not linked with how productive you are on a daily basis. How can it be when everything around you is so uncertain?

"How can self-worth be linked to our sense of productivity in any shape, manner or form?"

Our self-worth is based on us and us alone. For the people we are. For our hearts.

Hence let me be clear, I am not okay with those pressuring others to do things. To be busy. To be productive. And the sad truth is, I'm guilty of it.

I think that's the worst part for me.

I realised recently that I was conditioned to be productive and link my self-worth with my level of productivity, and thereby judging others of the same. This was probably the first two weeks of April for me? - Maybe more, maybe less.

In my head, I thought, this is the moment I can do it all, exactly as I want to, and be able to get everything I've been meaning to catch up on.

Slowly, I realised two things... Maybe three.

1 - It's not possible to do it all.

2 - I have realised that loneliness is so very real and therefore I'm not able to do even half the things I've wanted to.

3 - Basically, this whole concept of self-worth linked with how busy we are is unjustified. My judgement was in a completely wrong place, and I am so sorry to those that have maybe seen or not seen it.

The last month has taught me a fair bit on that, thankfully. I have outgrown this misguided concept that says that we have to evaluate our self-worth to how much we get done in the day.

Because God forbid we actually sit and do nothing, caving into our anxiety and the screaming voices in our head without knowing what to do.

God forbid us for having feelings and for struggling with our mental health.

God forbid us to even admit we're struggling...

And so, as I now realise how much I need to publish this outrage at the system that society has conditioned us to follow, let me repeat this.

It is okay to struggle. It is okay to have difficult days. It is okay to be anxious.

Talk to people who you can trust. Break down. Be a mess. And then pick up the pieces that you can and slowly lift yourself back up, if you can, to face another day. If you can't, sleep it off. Get some ice-cream. The world will wait to see your awesomeness in full shape and form when you're ready.



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© 2019 Athira Mohan Krishnan