Do I Have to Have a Productive Pandemic?

Humans are social beings, and even as an introvert, being trapped with the same three faces for an indefinite sentence is a little overwhelming. 

Just as the weather was heating up and you were planning on a pitcher at the Impy, your social life was suddenly cut short. Now you’re muffling through a scarf to say hi to passers-by and walking round them like you are physically repulsed in order to abide by the two-metre rule. 

I actually began with high hopes, enthusiastically writing a checklist which included a whole host of pretentious items like ‘read a French novel’. This was after a binge-watch of Gilmore Girls, when intellectual Rory Gilmore made my reading habits seem pretty embarrassing. In my excitable state, I even blew the dust off my guitar and got out my Beatles sheet music. But five minutes in and my energy drained, the novelty of all this empty time wore off, and a panic settled in. How on earth am I going to avoid spiralling into an anxious, depressed mess with three weeks or more of this lifestyle? Now I’m a lot luckier than key workers and families who have been struck with illness, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them, but this endless sense of time poses its own risks to mental wellbeing.

Meanwhile my sister, who is the definition of an extrovert (she once made me travel to London, so she didn’t have to spend a morning on her own), remarkably seemed to hack this new life much quicker than I did. Wednesdays became her ‘Pub Quiz’ nights, where she joined her friends and got drunk on a Zoom call to quiz each other for a jackpot win. Every morning, she has woken up at 7:30am and done a PopSugar Fitness workout on YouTube (if you haven’t heard of them, do one of their boxing workouts – I have never seen anyone be that passionate about punching! It’s quite endearing really.) She will then get dressed and start working quickly, with a break for a healthy lunch and a long afternoon cycle. Every evening she FaceTimes a friend and we’ll watch a movie together, working our way through the classics.

In true younger sister style, I haven’t been quite as productive. To give myself some credit, I do change out of pyjamas every day (should that be impressive?), but my sleep schedule has gone out the window and most days I can waste a few hours staring into space, mindlessly eating a packet of Guylian chocolates, and wondering if anyone has ever been this bored.  

I have called a couple of friends but mostly I’m too lazy to organise a time and the only thing I have to report on is the latest drama in Real Housewives of Dallas and what I had for lunch. I’ve started sending people voice memos instead of texts as though this is somehow more wholesome and sociable. But nothing really fills the void of face-to-face contact (although a Houseparty game can come close).

Clearly, I’m not the one to be doling out advice I can’t follow myself, but I’m an observant person and I pick up on good habits other people have! So, if you’re feeling down as we all are, at least waste the hours with some laughter. Watch some Brooklyn-Nine-Nine or scroll through TikTok. Stop beating yourself up that you haven’t applied to a million internships or started a winning Depop business yet! Naturally, you’re feeling unmotivated – anyone would, penned up with only their siblings for friends. But how often does the whole world go on pause so you can finally read a book that isn’t a set text? Or learn to play something on the piano that you would feel brave enough to play in the forum (and I don’t mean hanging about in the library ‘til the forum is empty)? 

If this sounds appealing, my sister’s motivational advice would be to get up early in the morning and do drunk Netflix Parties in the evening (get each friend to dance over Skype to see how drunk they are).  But if you’re more like me and refusal to wake up at dawn for yoga and a vegan breakfast is a matter of principle, then don’t worry. The majority of us will just be happy to emerge from lockdown with some social skills intact and a tropical holiday very far from home.

In the meantime, my advice is to get under the covers, put on Tiger King, and tell people to wake you up when this is over (oh, and revise if you can! I always forget that!). 

-Rosie Chandler-Wilde

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