11 Jun HOW TO STAY BUSY WHEN YOU HAVE NO PROSPECTS
Are you sitting in bed, desperately looking around your room for something to do? Are anxiously counting down the days to June 14, somehow even missing your schoolwork? Well, I just might have the antidote: some low-stakes, calming activities to fill your time through this final stretch of COVID restrictions.
But first, some personal rambles.
It’s been a long pandemic. Perhaps like a lot of people, I find its restraints the worst during the summer, when I’m home with no work to do and no housemates to talk to. It was easier to forget about all the things I could be doing when I had tasks to check off, groceries to pick up, and assignments to submit. And it was easier to avoid gatherings when I was living with my best friends. Of course, I love my family, but they’re not necessarily the bubble I would pick.
I’ve always been a fan of a good distraction, but, for me, it has to be a certain type of distraction. I procrastinate work by doing more work, not by watching Netflix—I always have to be doing something that could be construed as productivity, or I feel guilty and get antsy.
For the first couple weeks of the summer, I said I had “no prospects.” To put that in less dramatic terms, I was struggling to find a job and I missed doing schoolwork. Since then, I’ve managed to check those two boxes. I reached out to my old boss, and despite currently being in Arkansas collecting crystals, she managed to hook me up with the new owner of her coffee shop. I also signed up for an online class, so I’ve got pretty notes to make and due dates to put into my bullet journal again.
I’m glad for these developments, but their circumstances have shone a light on some ridiculous facets of my personality. Why is it that I constantly need to be doing something productive in order to feel like a person worthy of space? Why do I measure my worth by checks on a to-do list? I don’t know if it’s the school-focused environment I grew up in, the competitive sibling in me, or if I was just born this way, baby, but I’m trying to think about it more. I’m trying to train myself out of this toxic mindset.
Let me say it louder for the people in the back: you are NOT your accomplishments!
It is perfectly acceptable to take a day, a week, a summer, to sit back and enjoy yourself. I did this for about two weeks before my class started. If you’re like me and feel an incessant need to constantly be ahead of the curve, try and take a pause at measuring it. Join me! It’s nice over here, I promise.
Before I had my job and my class, I thought up a bunch of activities for myself to pass the time. They were quiet and calming, and slow, and miraculously non-productive. If you’re looking for something to do to fill the hours before these gosh-darned restrictions lift, look no further. Here is a comprehensive list of what to do when you have no prospects.
First, bullet journaling! Bullet journaling is my go-to relaxing activity. I started doing it in my first year, and I’ve never gone back. A bullet journal is essentially a planner, but you have to do all the work! You pay the same price for an agenda, but this one is….. empty! I promise it’s not nearly as much of a scam as it sounds. I get such joy out of using all my bright markers, sparkly pens, and patterned washi tape. There’s nothing more satisfying than a completed page, ready to be filled out. It’s creative, calming, and gives your brain space to wander. This summer, I’ve actually been bullet journaling while watching one of my high school friends destroy innocent video games on Twitch—side note: always support your friends in their backwards endeavours.
Video Games (Specifically, Zelda: Breath of the Wild)
Using this anecdote as a delightful segway, the next thing on my list is Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I realize this idea is oddly specific, but you can replace it with really any video game. Anyway, my Summer 2020 COVID activity was Animal Crossing: New Horizons and my Summer 2021 one is Zelda. I count this idea as a relaxing activity because, instead of fighting all the evil monsters, I prefer to walk around and pick flowers. This game is beautiful, and I could spend all afternoon gazing out at the idyllic animated landscape, watching the breeze blow through Link’s hair.
Take a Walk
Or, instead of walking around in a video game that will probably (maybe?) rot your brain, you can take a walk outside! I love walking—I do it in silence, and just listen to the birds and my thoughts, or with some music in my ears (for the last couple of weeks, it’s been Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”). I’m sure many of you have been seasoned walkers for, say, 20-ish years now, so here’s my spin: try to walk somewhere different each time. It’s easy to fall into a regular route, but I’d recommend changing it up each day. Turn down an unfamiliar street, take a funky catwalk and see where you end up. Spice it up, as they say.
In the realm of funky creativity activities, might I suggest a paint by numbers? You can get these on Amazon, or at a crafts store, I’d imagine—they come in these little kits, with canvas and paint and brushes and everything. I got into paint by numbers quite randomly, last summer, when my Dad bought one for him, me, and my sister to do together (cute, right?). The first one we did was a picture of the house from Up, with the balloons and everything. It took absolutely forever, but now it looks so pretty hanging in our entryway. It was so relaxing to just take a beat, sit down, and colour in the little boxes. Would recommend.
My last suggestion is some good old-fashioned baking. I know everyone’s already made focaccia, but take a ride down a Pinterest alley and see what fun, wacky recipes you can find. Baking is such a classic comfort activity—it’s relaxing, plus you actually get something out of it: food! (I’m starting to glimpse a pattern, here: I seem to favour activities with concrete results.) I have a batch of blueberry muffins in the oven as I’m typing this piece, and the smell alone is worth the effort.
Well, that’s all I’ve got. I hope one of these ideas tickled your attention. Again, it’s easy to fall into the nasty habit of constantly working, but it’s important to relax every once in a while. Go outside, or take out a creative activity, or read a book! It’s almost like you can trick yourself into feeling like you’re doing something when you’re not really doing anything at all. And isn’t there something poetic in that?
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