COVID-19 Opinion

This is exactly why millennials need to take a break

Many of us have felt the pressure to overwork ourselves during this crisis.

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By Sama Al Taie

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions around the world to stay indoors, many of us have felt the daunting pressure to overwork ourselves. Social media platforms are flooded with home workout challenges, cooking recipes and TikTok videos, all calling us to be productive.  Welcome to the phenomenon of hustle culture, in which we, millennials, are burning out on the road to feeling as productive and as successful as those who virtually surround us. We are continuously obsessing over what to cross out from our to-do lists, and thinking about what impressive posts we can publish next on social media, forgetting that we sometimes need to take a break.

Living in the age of capitalism, we are coded into believing that unutilized free time is a bad thing. It has taught us that we must always be productive, as if we are robots. Spending your day in your warm bed binge watching your favorite show has become a moral crime in recent years.

And this current crisis seems to have exacerbated this even more. We are expected to be more productive than we were before the pandemic given the additional free time many of us have been experiencing.  Hyper-productivity posts on social media platforms are constantly making people who cannot keep up with the pace feel shame. But while many productive millennials tag their friends to do 100 pushup challenges, many of us are scrolling down our screens trying to find the motivation to get through another day during these trying times.

According to Elizabeth Yuko, a professor in bioethics, this pandemic is causing unusual psychological stress due to the sudden lifestyle changes. And drowning ourselves in work, and toxically comparing ourselves to others, will only make things worse.  Thus, instead of piling additional projects on ourselves and looking down on ourselves because we cannot be as productive as Fatima or Mohammed, it is time for us to take care of our mental and physical wellbeing once and for all.

The ongoing pandemic is granting us the gift of time to focus on ourselves and to achieve personal growth goals beyond work tasks and attempts to please others on social media; to learn how to become better versions of ourselves as people. During this pandemic, many have realized the true importance of real friendships, and having loved ones by their side. Call a friend, text your roommate, or send some flowers to your loved ones. Yes, this pandemic has kept us indoors, but that does not mean that we should forget those who were always by our side during the ups and pitfalls of life.  We need to take advantage of this extraordinarily exorbitant time to focus on ourselves and our loved ones because we may not have a similar abundance of time to do so in the future. Think of it this way, perhaps this pandemic was here to teach us the lesson of a lifetime, that we should always take a moment and be thankful for our surroundings, health and loved ones. Hence, never take life for granted, and appreciate and take in the pause it has given you.

Sama Al Taie is an Omani journalism graduate of the American University of Sharjah who
is passionate about writing, Arabic classical music and singing. Sama hopes to change the world through her words. She is currently interning at Sekka.

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