The first couple weeks after the virus approached critical weren’t too big of a stressor for me because I saw the pandemic as something that overall, we could contain. I assumed that Americans could put aside our differences for just a couple weeks and work together for a change to resolve a global crisis. I had a bit of faith in my country for the first time in a while.
As we’re approaching our two month mark in this quarantine, that hope has vanished.
When I first realized that I probably won’t get to experience normal for a long time, I was consumed with fear. We are creatures of habit and when those habits break, we don’t know what to do with ourselves which leads to anger and self doubt. I experienced these feelings for a couple of days and it was killing me because I wasn’t getting any work done, and you know me, busy gets things done. Throughout those couple of days, I ranted to my dad about how I was miserable, anxious, stressed, angry, blah blah blah. Even I was getting sick of listening to myself complain. Apparently my dad was too because one day, he snapped – and I’m glad he did. He sat me down and flat out told me “this is the new normal now. Deal with it.”
Yeah. I was pretty pissed too.
After stomping out of the chair, contemplating on the floor of my room, and taking an unnecessarily long shower, I had one of those spur of the moment decisions to get my life together. I grabbed my laptop and wrote a two page to-do list of what I was going to accomplish for the next couple of months. I knew that we probably weren’t going to be in quarantine for that long but you know me, worst case scenario thinker.
Anyway, I got to work and tried to cram every single thing on my list in one day. I started getting overwhelmed and overworked. I even developed some eye bags from anxiety and exhaustion. Then, for the first time in my life, I made the realization that I gave myself a CRAP TON of work to do within a crunched amount of time.
I don’t know if you guessed it already, but I tend to do this a lot… but so do you.
I know what you’re thinking, how could you give yourself too much work, no one likes to work, it’s hard… and boring. Yeah, you’re right, but here’s the thing: planning and executing are two vastly different ideas. As humans, we’re egocentric by nature and as a result, believe that we think that we can tackle more than our minds can handle. I mean, think about how you feel on the first day of school or work: “I’m going to get really good grades this year, focus on my work, participate in class, and get all of my homework done on time.” Two weeks later, you skipped class because you woke up and saw a spider on your ceiling.
My point is: I’m not unique and filling up this new time that I have with buckets of work isn’t going to make me feel any more accomplished. So I came up with a new solution.
Instead of a to-do list for a specific day, I created a list to complete over the course of a few weeks and prioritize the things that needed to be done first. This took a lot of pressure off my back because now I’m not trying to scatter around the house frantically to get fifty things done in a day. Instead, I make time for baths and walks with my dog after school. Then, I compartmentalize my time to find a good hour to start prepping for my AP exams, writing college essays, researching colleges, etc.
I tackled my anxiety in a healthy and productive way which is very rare these days. I encourage you to create a list of things you want to accomplish but PLEASE DON’T OVERDO IT. Learning from mistakes is one thing that I CAN trust myself to do so trust me on that one!
Stay safe and healthy.
Thanks for reading.