Getting out there when you don’t fancy it much.

The world feels a bit on the brink at the moment, doesn’t it? On the one hand I’m looking forward to normality, on the other hand, I don’t feel ready at all. 

I remember having a diary that was a Tetris of social engagements and child sport lessons and gigs and birthday drinks. It feels like a different person did all that. Was I happy then? I honestly couldn’t tell you. 

I tell you what though, during this latest lockdown, my desire for Getting Out There has calcified. Dried out and hardened, like poop in the sun. 

But hiding forever, appealing as it may sound, is not the answer. Because if you sweep away the Doing Of Things, you take all the fun with it. 

How do we separate out the energy-giving, joyful interactions from the draining and needless?  

How do we protect this tiny seed of energy inside us that, some days, thinks about shooting out a hopeful little sprout? 

Will we have to hard-check-in with ourselves every time we’re invited to leave the house just in case we combust from being socially busy more than once a week? 

There was a great article in the New York Times recently about the phenomenon of “languishing”, this weird mental state where you’re not quite ok but not quite in the dustbin either. A limbo-land of meh. It is very much the vibe of 2021. 

So how do we get out? Where’s the map? Or do we just sit and wait for it to pass? Is it like quicksand, where the harder you fight it, the more it sucks you in?

I find myself puzzling over it for five minutes, feeling tired, then going to get another biscuit out of the tin instead. 

According to the article, we should focus on little pockets of flow. Gardening, music, reading books, taking pictures, TV, whatever cooks your noodle. Stuff that lets your brain hop off the treadmill for half an hour. Takes you somewhere else. Re-energises. 

And then protecting your time and being honest about it. Sometimes you just need to tell people to piss off because you need a weekend lying on the sofa with your head in a bucket of crisps. I firmly believe that good friends will let good friends do that, with no guilt attached. 

What do you do, when you’re standing on the edge of a new normal? Are you a jump in and do it person? Or, like me, do you  waver on the edge for hours, watch everyone else, run in up to your knees, scream, run out again, then finally get in properly and enjoy it more than you thought?