Written by philippines

Words by Katherine Go
Edited by Melissa Nava
Art by Abby Chua

I thought being in quarantine was the perfect opportunity to “get myself together. To bring out the better and brighter version of myself.

In this time of pandemic, we are faced with sudden life changes. Following the lockdown, we inevitably had to face a future filled with uncertainty: for some, taking a gap year, or losing a job, or letting go of a wedding.

No one was prepared for the surge of COVID-19 in the Philippines. Numerous plans were thrown out the window or rescheduled to a later date whether we like it or not. With the clock continuously ticking, we can only hope for a magical reset button to undo all the damage that was done. But now, this is our reality. What lies in the future remains a blur. 

While there is no clear sign of the pandemic ending anytime soon, it is expected that we stay in our respective homes for our collective safety. Although having a home to begin with is a privilege, being limited with little to no social interaction can do a lot for your brain and disturb your mental peace. Being given this much time in our hands, we were unable to set an agenda. Our minds could easily run off to pessimism, fear, and anxiety, feeling as though we are losing direction in our lives. 

Pressure to be resilient

While a lot of us feel lost during the sudden lockdown, some people have taken this opportunity to be productive and resourceful, like picking up new hobbies and polishing their existing skills. Some have even attempted to try multiple jobs, enroll in online courses, and start their own businesses. Seeing many try to pick themselves back up again is heartwarming, inspiring even. It could be a fulfilling way to get through these tough times. The only downside to this is feeling the pressure to do the same – it clearly stressed me out. That even in the middle of a pandemic I thought, I should be functioning perfectly and get work done. I thought being in quarantine was the perfect opportunity to “get myself together. To bring out the better and brighter version of myself.

The guilt of “unproductivity

For the first few months in quarantine, I was satisfied.

But after seeing other people handling themselves during the pandemic so well, that changed. In a blink of an eye, I found myself juggling five internships and six online courses in a span of two months. Work hours definitely overlapped, but I managed to made it work, by pursuing little sleep and little to no breaks.

I remembered the person I was when the pandemic just began before this one, feeling guilty for relaxing and just being at my own pace. In turn, it led me to overcompensate for the time I’d “wasted.” Little did I know that I’d already succumbed to a toxic hustle culture. I saw myself grabbing every opportunity I could find, practically forcing myself to take anything and everything on.

I’ve always been a firm believer that putting myself through challenges will only make me stronger. I believed that giving myself more tasks would only improve my time management, discipline, and efficiency. However, being on social media only reinforced my belief that I was now indeed spending my quarantine wisely – building my skills and gaining new knowledge based on what I’ve seen on social media.

Work-life-balance, but at home? 

Toxic hustle culture is even more dangerous when working from home. When you fall into believing that no second should be wasted, you’ll find yourself scrambling to get every job done. Even when you’ve met all your tasks for the day, you will still be looking for more.

In this new normal where most people are following work-from-home set-ups, all structure separating work and life is lost. The fine line between work life and personal life lets you work non-stop; before you know it, your home is no longer a place of comfort, but a workplace.

We all cope differently.

Using this time to hone ourselves is a great way to adjust to the changes brought by the pandemic. However, we each have our own individual way of recollecting the “normal” life that was taken away from us, or better yet, reshape the new normal. But we must remember that focusing on self-preservation during this time is what’s most important. We are already faced with so much worries, anxiety and uncertainty as the pandemic continues to persist.

If taking a break from work is one of the first steps in building yourself back up, then perhaps, it’s not such a bad idea. Maybe, we could even learn to accept that not being at our best especially during this time is okay as well. Being your best also means passionately giving what you can wholeheartedly without wearing yourself out. 

Katherine resides in Metro Manila, Philippines and is currently a SenseReporter for Makesense Asia. Her role focuses on creating inspiring content that sheds light on global issues and calls for action. Katherine is an advocate for living a sustainable lifestyle and supporting social enterprises.

Melissa lives in Metro Manila, Philippines, and is currently a Sensereporter for Maksense Asia. Her role focuses on penning down statements that hold meaning and substance that engage readers with the truth for a positive social impact. She hopes to bring about change even in the littlest ways because when accumulated, it will make a huge difference. Melissa feels particularly passionate about inclusive health care, gender equality, and press freedom.

Abby resides in San Juan City and is currently a sensereporter for Makesense Philippines. As a future researcher and amateur graphic designer, she hopes to find a way to bridge the arts and sciences to push for social change. She strives for a better Philippines, mainly focused on press freedom, environmental issues, and education.