For the previous six months or so, I’ve struggled to reply that oh-so-common query of “how are you?” I imply, do I say that I’m so beat down by pandemic fatigue and allostatic load and each freaking resolution fraught with ethical points at greatest and life-and-death points at worst that I wish to curl up in a ball and sob? Or do I inform them that I’m so grateful that we now have our well being and our household is secure and I’ve an honest job and my youngsters are comparatively comfortable and we now have a cushty dwelling that I might cry tears of happiness? Or do I reply truthfully and say that the majority days I really feel some mixture of loneliness-frustration-gratitude-fear-exhaustion-gratitude, with a heaping mixture of confusion about what the fuck am I doing with my life?
Something tells me that isn’t the response most individuals wish to hear. So I normally simply sigh and say, “I’m fine…I guess.”
But deep down, I do know the reality – similar to you understand the reality – I’m not tremendous. And I’m guessing you aren’t both. Just as a result of we aren’t in disaster mode and we’re grateful for what we now have doesn’t imply we’re doing nicely.
Here’s the down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty reality: I really feel rather a lot like Eeyore recently. I don’t really feel horrible, however I don’t really feel good both. I’m not feeling as beat down as six months in the past, once I had a continuing headache and my jaw harm from all of the stress-induced tooth grinding, and I’m feeling a complete lot extra optimistic than even a pair months in the past, however I’m nonetheless…I don’t know… off.
I’m unproductive. Unmotivated. Lethargic. I spend plenty of time sighing. My response to most questions: Who cares? I imply, actually, who fucking cares?
Until a few weeks in the past, I believed it was simply me. It’s not. And Adam Grant’s viral article within the New York Times – There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing – proved it. This article is in every single place and everybody’s speaking about it. Why? Because we’re all feeling it.
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness,” Grant wrote. “It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
That isn’t to say that some of us aren’t actually struggling. They are. Or that some of us aren’t thriving. They are. But many people are languishing. We’re not likely depressed, however we’re not likely comfortable both. We’re simply…blah. Or perhaps it’s blegh. Depends on the day, I suppose.
Languishing is decreased motivation, incapability to focus, and shrinking productiveness. It’s the sighs and the blahs and the bleghs and the who-fucking-cares. It’s emotional confusion and anxiousness about getting your hopes up.
There’s purpose to be optimistic, to be hopeful, to really feel renewed vitality. Vaccines are broadly accessible, and most of the people I do know have had at the very least one dose by now. Even CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated we’re seeing a “a really hopeful decline” within the variety of day by day circumstances.
But after almost 15 months of doomsday information, something that isn’t dread feels odd. Looking ahead to one thing enjoyable and, dare I say, “normal,” like a household trip or a BBQ with buddies feels uncomfortable and fruitless. Like I’m simply setting myself up for disappointment when that factor I’d been trying ahead to doesn’t occur. Should I really feel hopeful or keep on excessive alert? Either approach, I really feel like I’m being gaslit.
So we’re feeling it – we’re languishing – however what on this planet will we do about it?
The first step is admitting it. Instead of the automated response of “fine” or “good,” we inform folks how we’re actually doing once they ask. “It would be a refreshing foil for toxic positivity — that quintessentially American pressure to be upbeat at all times,” Grant wrote.
He additionally suggests discovering small chunks of “flow” in our day – something that creates “that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away.” Cleaning out your storage, doing a crossword puzzle, or tending to your backyard can all do the trick.
And there’s actual energy in acknowledging our particular person and our collective ache. After all, we are able to’t heal what we don’t see. As Grant factors out, “’Not depressed’ doesn’t mean you’re not struggling.”
I’ll admit it, I am struggling. Not as a lot as I used to be a number of months in the past, however every day seems like a slog. But you understand what? Knowing that there’s a phrase for it – languishing – and that others are feeling this sort of existential Eeyore-ish-ness too, actually does make me really feel just a bit higher.
Maybe it makes you’re feeling just a little higher too.