Categories
Uncategorized

A Case of the Mondays

I think I like Mondays now.

Crazy, I know.

Something about this pandemic has made every opportunity for a fresh start seem even more important, even as the days seem to run together. I’ve started observing Monday as if it’s a Holy day – getting up early and breathing in a few moments of silence with my coffee as I reflect on the week past and the week ahead. It feels like a clean slate, a Monday morning, which is my favorite kind of slate. The latter half of the week and the weekend always get messy with loose ends and unread emails and lists of things to do – but then comes Monday, bright and clean and ready to be written on. 

I always thought I hated Mondays. The drag out of a deep slumber back into the world of the living, of the student, the employee. But in a time when there is so little structure – both in the world at large and in my personal world as a recent college graduate (living at home without a full time job) – a moment of refresh is more than welcome. Monday is a reminder to pause, in the way that weekends used to be. 

I saw a Tweet a few weeks back that said something to the effect of, “I can’t explain why but Thursday and 7pm have the same feeling.” It made so much sense to me. Thursday and 7pm share the momentum of being near the end of a long haul; you’ve gotten over the hump of the week and the day, and can begin to anticipate the beginning of a fun night or weekend. So, in the way that Thursday is 7pm, I’ve decided that Monday’s time-twin is 7am.

Monday is drinking that first cup of hot coffee and feeling the wheels in your brain lurch back to life. It’s the excitement of pulling out of the driveway at the start of a long road trip, snacks and guidebooks at the ready. It’s the first whiff of fall in the air, the calendar turning to September before a new year of school, ripping the tags off a brand new outfit before wearing it for the first time.

I realized recently that I spend a lot of time focusing on the endings of things, when I should really be focusing on beginnings. It’s beginnings that light me up and power me forward – probably why my favorite “season” for the past 18 years of my life has been “back to school.” August feels like an ending, but it’s also right before a new beginning. The “Sunday scaries” come right before Monday’s magic. Does it take an ending to truly appreciate a beginning?

I’m starting to think so.

Categories
Uncategorized

If You’re Looking for Permission to Do Nothing, Here it Is

The past month and a half has been a rollercoaster. In such a short period of time, it feels like we’ve collectively been through all of the emotions known to man, including some we didn’t even know existed before this. How can the world be “normal” one day – continuing on in a steady (if concerning) trajectory – and then completely halted the next?

I wish I had the answer.

This would all be easier if someone had an idea of what to do. The general population’s lack of experience with global pandemics, while a testament to the advancements of modern medicine, is, frankly, alarming. The barrage of (often conflicting) ideas about how to handle it is anxiety-inducing, to say the least. A recent poll done by the American Psychiatric Association showed that 36% of Americans feel that their mental health has been “significantly impacted” by the pandemic. So, over 100 million people. That’s a lot.

With an increase in people struggling, however, there has also been an uptick in people being willing to share what they’re going through. I’ve seen countless articles and social media posts of people urging their readers/followers to check in with themselves and their friends, which is a lovely sentiment no matter how often it’s repeated (we could all stand to do more of this, pandemic or not.)

And then there are the lists. It seems like everyone has some sort of advice to give about how to keep busy / stay calm / stay healthy. If you’ve read any of my articles on hercampus.com or theodysseyonline.com you can see that these are probably my favorite kinds of pieces to write: advice for managing periods of transition, tips for making life more manageable and more rewarding.

I’ve been thinking for weeks now about what I wanted to write in response to this sudden turn of events. My first instinct when faced with a new challenge is always to write about it, but this time I’ve been struggling to find the right words.

In the first few weeks of quarantine, I drafted my own list of ways to stay productive “during these unprecedented times.” It felt like the natural thing to do, to try to maintain some sense of normalcy until everything blew over. For some reason, though, I let it sit in my “drafts” folder and never posted it.

Since then, I’ve read countless articles with the same goal, and have actually implemented a lot of the advice in my own life. I’ve tried meditating, I’ve tried yoga, I’ve journaled, baked bread, called friends. It has all succeeded at filling up the seemingly endless days (to an extent,) and it’s comforting to know that thousands, maybe millions of people are going through the same motions.

Despite these small pockets of activity, however, most of my day is usually spent aimlessly, wandering from room to room, opening and closing Internet tabs, feeling like I’m drifting untethered in the sea.

I’ve heard this same sentiment expressed by basically everyone I’ve talked to in the last few weeks – an overwhelming sense of purposelessness that seems to get stronger as the days go by. There are only so many loaves of bread to bake, only so many friends to call. Each activity offers a welcome but short-lived reprieve from the day, but in the end it’s only a distraction. What larger purpose am I moving toward? I ask myself as I come home from another run or take another baked good out of the oven.

The current answer: I don’t know.

Most of our lives had a fairly set structure before all of this that has been completely upended. If you’d have asked me two months ago, I would have told you with complete certainty that my future included finishing up college on campus with my friends, attending graduation, and looking for a job. Flash forward and I’m completing college virtually from my family home away from all of my friends, and trying to navigate a world where most companies have stopped hiring.

No matter your situation, life looks different now than it did at the beginning of the year. Every industry has been impacted in some way, whether it’s due to layoffs, work from home, or intense and dangerous essential work (huge shoutout to all of these people who put their lives on the line to help others.)

While this experience is global and collective, it is also deeply personal. Each of us is affected in our own way, and needs to handle this differently. That’s why I’m hesitant to offer any advice on “how to make it through,” because the reality is that “making it through” looks different for everyone. Some days all I can do is get out of bed, some days I don’t get up at all. One week I get outside every day, another only once or twice. There is no guidebook for how to do this. And that’s terrifying.

But what this experience has offered me is the time to get more in tune with myself, sometimes purposefully and other times by accident. I’ve found that I’m more able to recognize when a run will help me get out of my head, or when what I need is to mindlessly watch hours of mediocre television. My purpose right now is to get through each day, and nothing else. I try to focus on gratitude whenever possible (which isn’t always easy); gratitude for the health of myself and my family, for the roof over my head, for the essential workers who are keeping us safe.

Will I write the next great novel right now? No. Will I become a master baker? Probably not. There are so many things I would love to do with this time, things that I feel like I should be doing. American culture is all about progress and forward motion, and it’s been nearly impossible to shake the voice telling me that I should be doing more, that I’m wasting time.

So here I am to tell myself as much as you that the answer to how to get through this is that there is no answer. Frustrating, I know. But also strangely calming, if you think about it. There are no rules. No one’s expecting you to be performing at the top of your game. You get to define what your life looks like, and if what it looks like is wearing the same pair of sweatpants for a week straight, that’s okay.

Categories
Uncategorized

Coffee & I: A Bitter Relationship

I am a self-proclaimed coffee lover. I hesitate to divulge just how many cups of coffee I drink on any given day (possibly because I’ve had so many that I’ve lost count), but rest assured, it’s a lot.

I haven’t always been a coffee drinker- in fact, I didn’t drink coffee at all until about three years ago. The summer after my freshman year of college I got a job in a coffee shop, a job I chose because it paid well and I loved everything on the menu, except the coffee. As anyone who has worked in the food industry knows, not every order comes out perfectly, or sometimes orders are sent back for seemingly no reason at all. While it’s frustrating to have to remake a meal or a drink, the incorrect order is often up for grabs among employees. Coffee drinkers like their coffee juuuust right, so in a single day there were many coffee drinks placed in the back for employees like myself. Who can turn down a free drink that usually costs $4? Not me. Did it matter that I didn’t love the taste and shook with caffeine for the rest of the day? At first, yes. But as the summer went on, I noticed myself developing a tolerance to it. Suddenly one cup didn’t affect me, then two. I even- dare I say it- grew to like the taste. By August I was basically drinking black cold brew by the pitcher, and when I left that job to go back to school, I was completely hooked.

Fast forward to three years later, and I find it difficult to get out the front door in the morning without a hot cup of joe in my hand. On a good day, I wake up early enough to use the french press in my apartment, making decent enough coffee to get the caffeine rush that I need. On a I-snoozed-my alarm-6-times kind of day (the majority, if I’m being honest) I convince myself that I deserve a $5 iced latte, a hit to my body and bank account.

So why am I writing this post? According to a study done by amerisleep.com, American women spend over $2,000 per year on coffee, with 79% of coffee drinkers having at least one cup every day. Of the participants polled, American coffee drinkers consumer between 2.3 and 3.5 cups of coffee per day, varied by industry. I am guilty of this blind coffee consumption – when it becomes a dependency, it’s easy to justify spending excess money, or sacrificing sleep in the name of “productivity.” Yes, I do believe that drinking caffeine makes me more productive, but once it gets past a certain point, coffee can lead to a lack of restful sleep and unnecessary stress, as well as an empty wallet. I’m writing this post as a challenge to myself to cut down on the amount of coffee I drink per day, to not drink it too late in the day out of habit, and to be conscious of my coffee-related expenses.

Who’s with me?

Source: https://www.amerisleep.com/blog/caffeine-kick/