I wrote this in self-isolation, which took me 2 weeks to do it. But that’s okay I guess.
When the coronavirus pandemic kicked off, and the idea of being stuck at home for ages became reality. A two sided debate arose on the internet: is this crisis going to turn us into extremely productive human beings? Or is this the time to take a break with nothing but time on our just-washed hands?
First, the Internet broke loose with all the possible ways to spend your extra time; here is a great example from the Washington Post, and here is one from the New York Times on ‘channel(ing) your stress in creativity’.
Chris Carosa of Forbes disgustingly named being productive, in the midst of panic buying multi-packs of flour, being a ‘Coronapreneur’. And if that wasn’t enough, multiple examples were spread about famous authors and scientists who created their groundbreaking works while they were locked up. Who knew that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein during a time when she did not leave her house? Apparently Shakespeare was quarantined while he wrote King Lear? And who knew that Isaac Newton germinated his theory of gravity trying to avoid the plague? If Shelley was able to invent a genre, and Newton could write a theory that would shift our idea of the universe, shouldn’t you be able to do something brilliant and productive, like finishing your readings for week 5?
The answer you're looking for is no. First of all, no offence taken, we (or at least most of us) won’t reach this Shakespeare-level of brilliance. Second of all, the idea that this time of quarantine made them so brilliant and productive is hard to believe as well. Personally, I find it hard to believe that you can easily come up with the law of universal gravitation if given some free time and a quiet room with a locked door.
When the world seems like it is on fire, being productive and doing your PBL readings might be the last thing on your mind. We are going through an universally difficult experience, bringing up grief and panic in a lot of people. Suffering from the effects of this and feeling guilty about not starting a business or doing all your readings is stupid. What we might need is more self-compassion and acceptance of the situation, not another person making us feel worse about ourselves in the name of being a ‘Coronapreneur’.
Don’t waste all your time by trying to be your most productive self at the moment. This boredom is a privilege. While many are sick or helping the sick, being able to sit at home and be bored is a dream to some. Stand firm and make a big deal of your plans; take double the time to do your readings, bake vegan banana bread, take some time off for your new-found hobbies. After all, feeling pressured to be productive during a stressful time is just a symptom of our modern society. And please, do not give us another King Lear.