Do feel wildly unproductive during quarantine? Are you beating yourself up for not having read twenty nine books already while you’ve been social distancing? Do you find yourself feeling guilty for “wasting” the whole day on puzzles or Netflix or video games? Do you, dear reader, like the illusion of productivity?
Well, do I have a treat for you!
Introducing the Official Abigail’s Bookself Quarantine Reading Challenge!
Were you already able to check off a few? Great! That’s exactly why I made it.
This challenge isn’t about stretching yourself or, frankly, challenging yourself. Things are hard enough without you killing yourself to complete an instagram reading challenge. I don’t want to make you bend over backwards for me on the internet.
Okay, so this isn’t actually a reading challenge, dear reader. It’s a self-challenge. I want you to challenge yourself mentally and emotionally to cut yourself some slack, to appreciate what you have managed to do, even if if you didn’t finish, to honor your intentions, even if you don’t follow through with them, and to celebrate all the little victories in each day, even if they’re as common as brushing your teeth.
This is a confusing and weird and stressful time. Emphasis on the stressful. This is a time of grave uncertainty, of illness and death, of panic and fear, of paranoia and anxiety. Why in the hell would I want you to think only about checking off a social media reading challenge??
Instead of counting pages or time spent reading, instead of scrambling to find books that fit into obscure categories, instead of stressing yourself out over an autobiography like it’s the night before finals in junior year of high school, I just want you to take stock of where you are and how you feel.
I’m not asking you to journal your emotions (though there are a lot of great prompts out there if you do want to), or soul search. Just say, “Hey, self, you’ve managed to check off half this list! That’s amazing! Go, you!” Take a peek at all the ways you’ve tried to feel normal in this abnormal time, and give your brain and heart a little pat on the back (let’s not get in to the anatomy of this) for even trying to hold onto any sort of semblance of life before all of this craziness.
And then, we can honor our new “normal”, if we can even call it that, and respect the ways we are coping in this hard time. Take a break, take a breath, recalibrate because, dear reader, we are in uncharted waters. Our old navigations systems don’t work on this alien planet. We’ve got to try something new. We can’t feel guilt or shame because the old ways aren’t working right now.
So, maybe take a break from social media (after you widely share this on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Yelp… I jest). Stop paying attention to what strangers say you should do with your time. Don’t let anyone make you feel stupid or small or weak or lazy for not being able to inflexibly cling to your old ways in this new world.
Give yourself some love today, dear reader. Celebrate the ways you get through the day and cope in this trying time. Do exactly, and only, what makes you feel relaxed and centered. Nothing bad will happen if you leave your TBR stack TBR. You will not be excommunicated if you didn’t finish your book club pick. You will not have your Bookworm Card revoked if you read in the single digits this month, and certainly not if you don’t read at all.
Hang in there, dear reader. You’ll come back to reading when you’re ready, and it will be a more energizing and exciting experience than you remember. Trust me.
Until next time, dear reader! Be kind to yourself.