Hey You! Yes, You. RELAX.

Your worth is not measured by your productivity.

Due to the pandemic there’s a game going around where you take a random statement or movie title and affix the phrase “due to the pandemic,” to the end for comedic effect. Pretty sure it qualifies as gallows humour but it’s also like when Sierra Boggess’ one line in Les Miserables was “and in a bed.” Anyways, due to the pandemic basically everyone’s out of a job or facing salary cuts directly up the wazoo.

Pictured: A “wazoo.”

Now, I am not the government nor do I now or am I likely to ever be an employer, so I can’t help you with your financial situation. What I can say is that THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

Unless you’re a member of the Trump family who is not Mary Trump. Then it is your fault. But also, I don’t think any of them besides Mary Trump can read, so probably we’re good.

One of the problems with American culture is that we fetishize productivity. The American dream is that hard work will be rewarded in our country. In principle and just floating out there in the netherspace that’s lovely. Who doesn’t want to be celebrated for their accomplishments? Who doesn’t want to have something to do and know that they don’t have to spend every waking moment worried about their subsistence? The idea that hard work will be rewarded is great.

But the problem is there’s no end to it. If you were laid off due to the pandemic or if even before the pandemic you faced lower pay grades due to your gender or race or medical condition that is not your fault. You will never be able to work hard enough to overcome a system that devalues you. It is not possible. First off, you need to sleep, but just secondly you’re a person and you deserve joy.

If you’re rebelling against this notion ask yourself this: do you not enjoy the sense of accomplishment you receive when you’ve finished a project?

Everyone does. Most people do not want to spend their lives lazing around. But the productivity cult is just that. It’s a cult and it’s a trap. You are going to accomplish things in your life. You have accomplished things in your life. And those things are valuable and worth celebrating. But we’ve gotten to a point in American culture where if you’re not constantly trying and succeeding at being the absolute pinnacle of success then we devalue you.

For this reason if you peruse this very platform you will find countless articles detailing how you, yes you can be more productive, get more done, earn more money, do more stuff, be more thin, eat more salads, buy more coffee, never sleep but look rested, earn two kajillion dollars by the time you’re twenty-two, work seven jobs at once, write your novel, and on and on and on.

We, as Americans are terrified of being still and being silent.

And again, productivity is not a bad thing. But it’s not the only thing. Regardless of who you are or what you have or haven’t done you deserve happiness in your life. You deserve to be able to just do nothing for a few minutes each day and not be overwhelmed by guilt that you aren’t right this instant earning money or doing chores or planning ahead.

You are enough.

Ask yourself: what is all this drive towards productivity for? What’s the goal here? Is this going to bring me happiness?

If you’re working several jobs or desperately trying to be employed because you’re on the line then, I feel you. I am there and I’ve been there before. But this is not a reflection on your actual worth as a person and you deserve better. You have enough judgement and hate directed at you from the outside don’t compound it by feeling you need to fill every spare moment making yourself uncomfortable.

Stop.

No, seriously stop. Right now. Stop. Stop needing to prove yourself to yourself. Be still. Indulge in your own humanity. Engage in the radical act of personhood.

You should feel good about the things you’ve done and prepare to celebrate the things you will do especially if they’re little things like doing the dishes or making the bed. That’s valuable because you’re improving your environment and your condition. You were there for yourself. But you need not compare yourself to others or blame the societal injustice which perpetuates your situation on yourself.

You’re going to do stuff today. Maybe you’ll finish your book or maybe you’ll start a major project at work or maybe you’ll save someone’s life. Maybe you’ll do the laundry or help your kid with their homework or cook a healthy dinner. Maybe you’ll recover from a migraine or meditate or take a walk or find out that you actually really like cinnamon. These are all great things.

Genuinely. These are things you should be proud of doing. Go you! In whatever way, you showed up for yourself. And it’s enough.

You are enough.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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