I have had no energy since the pandemic quarantines started. I might even lose my job over this lack of motivation, but I can’t seem to do anything.
Motivation. What is motivation? Where did it come from? Where did it go? When will it come back? Why am I still wearing the same pajamas I was wearing in March of 2020? Why am I beginning a paragraph with rhetorical questions?
Because. I have no motivation.
If you don’t have any motivation either, welcome to the club. There is a logical reason for why we’re feeling like such losers. And here it is: These are sucky times.
I know of no other way to put it. This is not a normal era, so expecting to feel normal and “productive” is like expecting to spontaneously turn into a turtle. It’s not going to happen.
This pandemic era is like one giant funeral. If you have ever experienced the death of a loved one, you already know what I mean.
A funeral will sap your energy and leave you totally exhausted. And it doesn’t end after the funeral ceremony. Once the funeral ends, friends will incessantly call to check on you, but you’ll have no enthusiasm to speak to them, so you’ll blow them off because conversations take energy.
Eventually, friends quit calling because you never answer your phone. So you end up isolated. Which means that now you’re REALLY lost. The further you sink, the faster your motivation disappears. Sound familiar?
Here’s the thing. What I just described isn’t called motivation loss. This is classic grief.
Which is exactly what you’re experiencing right now, “collective grief.” And before you tell me I’m an idiot for using this phrase, I didn’t make up that term. Mental health experts did.
We are grieving the loss of a world we grew up in. And we’ve lost a lot. We’ve lost travel, parties, concerts, church services, holidays, buffets, handshakes, indoor dining, gainful employment, company picnics, Little League, hugs, movie theaters, and just when it couldn’t get any sadder, Hank Aaron died.
To make things worse, there are still folks out there who claim they’re doing just peachy. Like my friend John, who says this pandemic has been no problem for him.
John says he started a new diet, a new workout routine, a new business, and he probably claims he’s found spiritual fulfillment through the teachings of Englebert Humperdink.
“I’m doing great!” says John.
Well, simply put, my friend John—and I mean this respectfully—is full of doo. And people like him ought to quit bragging about how wonderful their life is or else their friends might write about them and use their real name.
This morning, I interviewed a mental-health therapist while doing research for this column. The doc had this to say about people who claim they aren’t having any pandemic-related problems: “I don’t think it’s possible not to suffer during this period.”
He explained why. I’m paraphrasing here:
Imagine you are standing outside during a tornado. During the storm, someone tells you that you have just won the lottery. Thus, while an F5 cyclone the size of a rural school district destroys your hometown and harms your family members, you’ve just discovered you’re a millionaire.
Now I ask: In this scenario, can you truly be happy?
Well, brain science tells us that the answer to all this depends on the gross total of your lottery winnings after taxes.
No! Wait! I mean brain science tells us that you can NOT truly be happy in this chilling scenario. How could you? Your whole world is falling apart, what good is a pile of cash? You have bigger priorities here.
Which leads us right back to motivation. Maybe you’re not lazy, maybe your priorities have changed.
Take me. I first realized that my own priorities had changed when I found a hole in the seat of my pajamas last month. This was first discovered by my wife one evening who was sitting on the sofa while I was walking through the living room.
The following is a verbatim quote from my wife: “There’s a hole in your butt.”
Sure enough, she was right. There was a gaping hole in my PJ bottoms, located exactly where the Good Lord split me.
Well, once she presented me with this vital information, what do you think I did next, being the responsible taxpayer that I am?
If you’re guessing that I immediately walked into my kitchen and ate pork rinds you’d be correct. Because my thinking was, “A hole in my pants? Huh. I’m hungry.”
In fact, as I write this column, I am STILL wearing the same PJs which expose my hindparts. And I don’t have the slightest desire to change.
Which is why I asked the mental-health therapist on the phone what sorts of things people like me could do to overcome our lack of motivation.
The expert said this: “My advice to my patients is roll with it. Be unmotivated. If you don’t want to wash your hair, don’t.”
“Worst thing you can do is fight the way you feel. Listlessness and lethargy are basically symptoms of depression. Resisting them is like saying, ‘Hey, I can make this bad stuff disappear if I try real hard.’ That’s not true. And putting pressure on yourself to be productive is the worst thing you can do. Give yourself a break.”
So if you’ve had the motivation to read this far, the doctor’s advice pretty much boiled down to this: Relax. Quit punishing yourself. This is a hard time to be alive. But you are indeed alive, and your life is a gift.
And in case you were interested, here’s my wife’s expert advice:
“For heaven’s sake, change those holey pajamas, I can actually see your scrawny, white…”