The hubbub of the new year is over, the brief and ultimately ridiculous social Christmas is over, and now we have another lockdown stretching out in front of us like a desert road, reaching out over the horizon. Unlike Lockdown 1.0, I and a large number of people I know are not up for it. We’ve used up all the banks of energy and optimism we had saved up, burned through our stash of brave faces and there’s one or two stiff upper lips that are starting to get all wibbly. It’s going to get tougher before it gets better.
And it’s going to get tougher because there are lots of people out there who, during the first lockdown, wrote a big long list of things they were going to do and did it, openly, brashly, and it’s really effing annoying.
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ is a quote that’s been attributed to everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Jesus (and now I’m imagining a combination of the two, riding a moose into a village to heal the sick. It’s a Republican wet dream), but I’m officially announcing my campaign for it to to be the motto of lockdown.
There was this terrible, horribly toxic tweet going round during March and April 2020, back in those halcyon days when motivation and energy was still a thing people had, saying that if you didn’t write that book, start that business, lose that weight, learn that language, etc, you only had yourself to blame. And we all sorta took that as a challenge, at least at first. I tried learning Welsh, gave up, and started again, as well as took up cycling, dieted, and was determined to get my VO career going. The motivation was there and by golly was I going to achieve everything!
And then I didn’t.
And that’s totally okay. You know why?
We’re literally in the middle of a global pandemic. If all you got done was make it through, you’ve achieved something amazing. If you’ve suffered with your mental health and, despite the world being literally on fire, you’re still here and still trudging on, you’ve achieved something amazing. Doing nothing and maintaining a status-quo throughout one of the most tumultuous times in modern history (a global pandemic ruining the normality of routine, the rise of an idiotic, dangerous right wing with obvious contempt for the poor and needy, and an America that looks that it might fracture at many moment) is something you can really be proud of.
Of course, there will be people who have used this 10 month pause to build up business empires, sculpt their figures, or solved all their problems, and they also achieved something amazing. But don’t compare yourselves to them, you will lose sight of how brilliant just surviving right now truly is.
There are a growing number of people who are sneering down their noses at others at how little they think other’s have done in comparison. “You’ve not written a novella? How quaint.” “You put weight ON? I mean, that’s something I guess…” “What was your turnover? What do you mean you’ve not started a business?!” They’re all over social media and, of course, LinkedIn, where they seem to be desperately clamouring for attention and praise.
But you know what? They do deserve the praise and the attention, even admiration. It’s impressive that anyone has done anything during all this, most of all start something new and see it through to the very end. That’s something to be lauded. Just don’t compare yourself to them, you don’t know their situation just as they don’t know yours.
Whether you’ve finished that film script you’ve been writing for years, painted that picture, read a book a month, or just existed by watching Netflix and eating crisps, you’re worthy and are doing well.
In fact. you’re smashing it. Don’t give up now.