This has been a rough year. 2020 was unimaginably hard for so many people. I feel that I am writing exactly the same words that I have read everywhere else, but I can’t stop myself. I am so incredibly lucky to have kept my job, my income and my way of life without losing anyone close to me. While I have family and friends who have been sick, I’ve also been extremely lucky to not have been ill and to be in a country that is somewhat successfully balancing quality of life with cautious restriction, intense testing and access to healthcare.
While I recently had a publication accepted, I’ve found myself unable to write. Since March of 2020, my brain has been so occupied with anxiety about COVID, changes in my work and the health of me and those I love. It is hard to do deep thinking and analysis when your thoughts can go nowhere except down that one-way road to anxiety. It is so much that I just can’t. I am unable to can.
While deadlines or over-commitment have commonly been reasons that people feel stressed, this is a different kind of stress. It is a stress that completely kills productivity and even my desire to be productive. I don’t think this is entirely detrimental. It has allowed me to give myself some space, take care of the things that are important to me and say ‘no’ more than I ever have in my life. I think those of us who have produced little work during this time will be able to look back and realize that we don’t even need to forgive ourselves. Productivity during stressful times is toxic.
I hope that in the future, we can extend this empathy to anyone we know is going through a stressful time. Asking for documentation that a relative actually has died to allow for an assignment extension? Toxic. Running ‘no excuses’ classes or schools? Harmful. Expecting students in poverty to show up with all the correct materials on a specific day? Thoughtless. Ignoring the impact of Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other political movements? Hostile.
Let’s all take our experiences during these times and realize that we are all connected. Our stress is a shared experience. And. we all need support.
Featured image from UAE NCEMA