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View From The Top

Photo Courtesy of Jalen ’21

Surprisingly, the latest source of my angst has not been my future, or even a Kate Bush album. What is really making me bananas is the notion that I have stuff I need to get done. Productivity. If anybody utters that word near me again during quarantine, I am going to jam my little fingers into some eyeballs. I do not want to do the things that I need to do. I also feel terrible about the fact that I don’t want to do these things.

Don’t get me wrong, I am productive in many valuable ways. I have been spending my time writing, over-analyzing media, and doing other typical liberal arts college applicant nonsense. In essence, productivity itself is fine. The issue is that I feel bad about myself when I am not constantly cranking out work. This came to light through an inevitable journey of self-realization, prompted by the fact that I am now the person I talk most to. I don’t know about you, but the fact that my self-worth and level of productivity are all tangled up together feels sort of dystopian. Part of me thinks that some powerful, anonymous man wants me to feel brain-numbing guilt at the thought of taking an undeserved nap so that he may squeeze all the lucrative productivity juice out of me. But also, I’ve been getting all my political theory from Tik Tok. I really need to read a book. 

And trust me, I’ve seen all of those fun little infographics on Instagram about how I should like, “be gentle with myself”, because the world is a total mess right now. I know this sentiment is true, but it feels like a big prank. Yes, there is a global pandemic, but due dates are looming. Big Brother College Board has got me wrapped around its massive finger. Whenever I goof off for a day, I’ve got the voice of someone’s dad in my head lamenting about how I’m some no-good hippie and how he’s gonna take away my car keys, lest I drive off to some commune. I’ve internalized it all to bits. 

However, the tethers of societal expectations loosen on me with each day of quarantine. The idea of rejecting the notion that my productivity can measure my self-worth is enticing. Maybe I’ll completely detach. I’ll do nothing of value. I’ll pour milk before cereal and use two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. I will cover all my mirrors with tinfoil, and walk the hallways of my home at night in a long white gown, humming sea-shanties. I could exist in my most barbaric, powerful state, and be totally mentally vacated. I think it’d be cool for about a week. And then I’d remember that all those detached 1960s San Francisco hippies pretty much just leeched off their uber-rich parents. They also most certainly didn’t vote. I despise this sort of behavior, so facing productivity and its many implications is inevitable. Cue my return to the Common App.