Sunny with a Chance of Self Relfection

Monday, June 22

By Sydney Jackson

I think we can all agree that being in quarantine has affected us all in one way or another. Whether you spent your time working from home, taking care of your family, practicing self-care, or pulling all-nighters playing Animal Crossing, it's safe to say that everyone has their own way of dealing with staying indoors. For others, it could be a time of confusion or lack of motivation. Lately, I have fallen into the latter. Being cooped up inside my house for months has not only made me go a little crazy but it has also made me less motivated to do things that I had been putting off for years. To take advantage of quarantine, I decided to register for summer classes, hoping to not only get my GPA up but also get closer to my Associate's. Ever since then, my stress levels have skyrocketed and my drive has decreased significantly. Before I even started classes, quarantine was weird for me. On one hand, I was going on walks around my neighborhood every other day and developing numerous hobbies but on the other, I was not taking care of myself mentally and letting myself go. I would spend hours on social media watching other people work on projects and being super productive and hate myself for staying in bed all day. It was a weird period of letting myself live in the moment and take some time for self-reflection and self-care but also questioning if I was doing enough or needed to slow down and take it easy. I'm sure a lot of people feel the same. Especially for someone who is pursuing a creative career field, it can be stressful wanting to create but not having the energy or motivation to do so. Judging myself because I'm not producing content as much as the next person or constantly comparing my lifestyle to someone else became a real issue for me.

As I have spent my quarantine journaling and thinking about my future, I came to a lot of realizations about myself and the world around me. Specifically, I started thinking about how hyper-focused our generation and older generations are on the future and how productive we should be. Growing up, the concept of college was practically shoved down my throat by my parents and grandparents. They all went and got their respectable degrees in subjects that we would consider "formal" or "practical". Having these high expectations put on me from such a young age to perform well and go to a good college stressed me out as a kid. I was hard on myself when it came to grades and would be scared to tell my parents I got a C or lower on a test or report card. Ultimately, it made me so focused on getting to the next level in life or achieving the next big thing. It was not until my junior year of high school that I started to care less and less about higher education. I did not have a drive or a passion at the time, so I was kind of just going through the motions. It became hard seeing my friends talking about the careers they wanted to pursue and the colleges they were going to attend. I felt so lost and behind, Almost as if I had nothing going for me. I did not have a car (still don't), a job, or anything that I wanted to work towards. 

That feeling lasted all throughout my senior year and even my first year at community college. I had never felt like such a loser in my entire life. Quarantine finally made me realize why I was feeling the way I felt. I had spent my entire life following a path that other people expected me to follow. Not once did I ever make a choice that had 100% of my input or did something that I truly wanted to do out of fear. It was fear of judgment and failure that I was so afraid of. I lived my entire childhood and adolescent life being a people pleaser and pushover; only doing things that I knew would make other people happy or "proud" of me. Because of this, I resented myself whenever I would make a mistake or fail at something, I never wanted to try anything outside of my comfort zone because I had already made up in my mind that I would suck at it. It was not until I was forced to stay indoors and sit with myself for 3 months to understand that life is not worth worrying about what other people think. Now, I have so many things I want to accomplish and that I have tried. A year ago, I was confused, lost, unmotivated, and scared for the future. This is not to say that I don't feel those same things now, I truly do. But I am not afraid to acknowledge it and act on it. Quarantine has led me to accomplish a lot of cool things. My podcast, the first draft of my book, the creation of my blog, and many other creative projects. None of this came easy because life is not always easy. However, living in fear was not an option for me.

I now know what it is I want to do with my life. I know that I do not need a degree for my career and even though my road to success won't be easy, I also know that nothing good ever comes easy. I am willing to take as long as I need to get to where I want to be and I do not want to rush that. I spent my whole life waiting to be an adult who has her stuff together and is a boss at what she does. I am only 18 and I am still patiently waiting for that day to come. I realize that I am young and have all the time to do whatever it is I want to do. I feel the same for humanity as well. I do not believe that there is a "right" time to do anything. If there is something that you want, go after it. Saying that you need to wait until you're older, more experienced, out of your deadbeat town, or in a better financial situation are just surface-level excuses. There is more than one way to reach a solution, they taught us that in math class. I'll do whatever it takes to grind and better myself but also allow myself to have days of relaxation and reflection. This capitalistic mindset that you have to always be doing something or should constantly be productive is fake and unrealistic. It is ok to give yourself a break and to take care of yourself. It is ok to not know what you want or what direction you want to be going in. It is ok to be lost. A lot of us are out here trying to figure it out every day. The future is never promised and who knows what kind of person you will be five, ten, or even a year from now. Allow yourself to try new things and not be afraid. Do not let fear win. Also, allow yourself to take it easy and not give in to the rat race mindset that society tries to throw in our faces.

As Bernie Mac once said on his titular sitcom, "Have fun. Be yourself. Make mistakes."

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