So apparently I’m not the only one who’s feeling a bit blah, a bit lacking in “oomph” at times these past few weeks. And apparently there’s an actual term for it: languishing. (My friends back in Texas would just say, “I’ve got a hitch in my git-along.”)
According to this article by Adam Grant in the New York Times:
“At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating. Colleagues reported that even with vaccines on the horizon, they weren’t excited about 2021. A family member was staying up late to watch ‘National Treasure’ again even though she knows the movie by heart. And instead of bouncing out of bed at 6 a.m., I was lying there until 7, playing Words with Friends. It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing. Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. 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.”
I can relate to this “languishing” state, and I see an additional dimension of it. At least for myself, and maybe for other eco/social activists too.
Early in the pandemic, things felt scary, but at the same time there was more of a widespread shared sense of reality across the general populace than there is now. We’re all in this together; we all need to stay home for the greater good (and because it’s been legally mandated), etc.
During this phase many of us discovered silver linings, both personally and planetarily. I remember feeling quite inspired and energized. Seeing how quickly and beautifully the planet’s air and water and wildlife responded to curtailed travel by humans. Seeing how people rediscovered, or discovered for the first time, the joy of spending long stretches of time in their own homes and neighborhoods. Etc etc.
Seeing how my own life improved as so many conferences and classes and civic meetings went online, turning my world into an activist/education bonanza free of transportation hassle and footprint.
But now, consensus and compliance are fraying. Part of the population seems to be living in another world. Those folks are hopping on planes, going to bars, all excited about “getting back to normal.”
And meanwhile I (and maybe some of you) feel like … “Meh” about a lot of what passes for normal.
Theme parks reopening, woohoooo!!
Kids getting back to the public consumerist indoctrination boxes called “schools” — woohooo!! Battle of the bands, 169 bands on 13 stages, yeeeehawwwww!!!
And I’m over here — Meh.
And then there’s the introvert-shaming. I’ve seen articles where psychologists are diagnosing all sorts of morbid syndromes just because not everyone wants to be all out in the world, hugging everyone etc. Some of us introverts found our piece of truth and paradise and maybe we’re SMART to not want to give it up so easily.
Then there is the labor-shaming. How dare these workers not want to go back to their shitty jobs churning out goods & services for the overlord classes! How could they possibly prefer to just collect $300 a week (literally 275 here in Florida) and stay home, than to get their butts back to work???
(BTW I am struggling to muster the will even to write this … just another example of what languishing looks like for me.)
The tension/pressure for “return to normalcy” can be quite demoralizing and languish-inducing.
So can the lack of solidarity and consensus regarding simple things like CDC guidelines, and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.
Just my take, I’m curious to see how others feel. I mean, overall I’m still basically doing well — just in sort of a phlegmatic, slow-mo kinda way. Like I’m moving through the gravity of Jupiter.
That said, I have found ways to move through the “Meh’s” and get on with my day, without going all drill-sergeant on myself. And even recover a spark of energy and aliveness through simple mundane actions. In case others might find it helpful, I wrote a post “Just … Start!”