Finding the Joy in the Mundane

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the world was forced into reactionary mode. Measures of varying degrees took place around the globe. The UK is now in lockdown, with no knowledge of when measures will be alleviated. As a result, an influx of articles and social media posts occurred, all in the name of ‘making the most’ of this period and being as productive as possible.

All over my feed is the encouragement to learn a language, become TikTok famous and begin my training for the 2021 marathon. For many, this works. Being constantly busy and distracting yourself is a fair strategy. However, for most of us, taking in the news that there is a deadly virus killing thousands of people a day, is a time and energy-consuming task as it is.

In my first couple of weeks back at home, away from my friends and university city, I got hooked to the idea of really making the most out of being in lockdown. I ordered a ton of paint by numbers (which are actually so hard), I’m on week three of nine in my couch to 5k app, and I’m writing more. But, as the reality that I don’t know when this will be over really hit me, being my best self was becoming a more and more distant concept. I know keeping myself busy helps, but this is a hard time. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do it. Living through a pandemic is exhausting. I was and am acutely aware of how good I have it, working from the comfort of my home, being well in health. Before, I refused to let myself suffer through this, to feel sorry for myself or waste any time. Life had to go on.

But then came the point where everything within me was begging to acknowledge that this situation is objectively difficult. It’s scary, anxiety-inducing, and plain upsetting. We shouldn’t feel angry at ourselves for missing friends or going to the pub.

When you struggle with your mental health in general, stripping away what usually makes you feel better is naturally going to be profoundly challenging.

We are so attached to the idea that our worth is calculated through what we do. And this is partly true; our decisions and actions in life can help shape us. However, in any period of our lives, our productivity should not be the principal factor in who we are.

All we have to do is survive this period. Realistically we’re all going to come out of this with awful haircuts, forgetting what social interaction is, and AMAZING Animal Crossing towns. Animal Crossing is all about being patient, watching gradual change occur, all in pursuit of something we’re not sure of. But even planting a new tree feels like a sense of achievement, so why can’t this be applied to real life? If you manage to get one thing ‘done’ during this quarantine, I think that’s a win.

Find the joy in the mundane. Pay attention to every movement when you’re brushing your teeth, take your time picking out what you’ll wear for the day. Slow down, if you can. I would rather make one hour of my day fulfilling then try to do 13 million tasks in 24 hours. Time feels so slow at the moment; we may as well try to enjoy it.

They always say a watched kettle never boils. Just know, you’re one day closer to this being over, to whenever that day will be. I let myself envision that day. I see warm weather, blue skies with hints of white fluffy clouds. I’m in a beer garden with my friends. We laugh, we talk, take the commemorative ‘reunited’ group photo, just in case Instagram didn’t realise it was all over. And that’s it. It’s simple.

While it’s simple, the idea of that sounds exhilarating right now. For now, I’ll get excited about my next cup of tea, because what else is there. When I look back at my life before, it wasn’t so flashy either. The normal is what makes life beautiful. And now it’s more mundane than normal, and that can be nice too. And soon, by its very meaning, it will be ‘normal’ again, because it has to. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

Isabelle Gray

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