This week marks the end of a very long sixteen week maternity leave from my office job (for all of you who can’t do 2nd grade math off the top of your head, like me, that’s 4 months) and I thought that now would be the perfect time to reflect on my fabulous use of this time. Okay, here I go.
Week 1 action plan: Get into shape, deep clean my apartment, write the next Great American Novel (or at the very least, a set of short stories that get published in a magazine), learn to cook, teach my teenage son to cook, become fluent in Spanish, finish all of the Game of Thrones books, start an herbal garden.
Week sixteen reflection: Ate brownies for breakfast while binge watching Chopped, shared cute videos of Golden Retrievers acting like humans on Twitter (oh and those before and after foster animal videos), cooked something from scratch once, didn’t teach my son to cook at all (didn’t even give him any chores if I’m being honest, which I am), took my dog out to the bathroom, went 5 weeks without brushing my hair, watched The Office, successfully learned all the days of the week in Spanish.
I did start this blog though (yay!) and eventually I started consistently maintaining personal hygiene, but that was about it.
Hey, in my defense, sixteen weeks is a lot shorter than you think. It’s just, I’ve had a job since I was 12-years-old (mowing lawns and then babysitting) and aside from a few vacations thrown in the mix, I have never taken so much time off work in my life. I had all these grand plans of the person I would become if I was only allowed the chance. I just didn’t have the time before, you know, working forty hours a week and cleaning and laundry and all those other excuses that never seem to be an issue for other successful people but hey, they probably don’t have day jobs like I do and actually have time to do all that stuff and…. Wait, what? Oh.
The person I want to be is the person I am too lazy to be.
Simple as that. It’s a gross realization. I hope one day it changes, but as for today it’s the truth. And I think social media plays a huge part in this. I mean, think about it, you take one picture of your legs stretched out on a beach chair by a crystal blue pool back-lit by the red and orange setting sun and you’re a “world traveler.” No one can tell it’s the city pool and you waited until the lifeguards blew their little whistle at closing time, and your kids are running around screaming behind you, and a pimply teenage boy in red shorts and an entitled attitude is telling you that you need to “pack up your shit and go”, and you tell him “just one sec” and snap the picture because, what is he going to do, grab you under the arms and drag you out? Hah! Jokes on him, you outweigh him 2:1 and there is nooooo way he is going to be able to move you from your Instagram moment, thank you very much.
Think about it, on social media you can be anything. You can be a political activist without leaving the comfort of your home; you don’t actually attend protests or sign petitions or write to your state representative. You rarely even study up on candidates before you vote, you just know who you don’t want, and although you share multiple political tweets about the new federal law that was passed, you only understand it on a surface level and keep reminding yourself to buy “American Politics for Dummies” but you never do. Okay maybe this isn’t you, bravo. You can leave now.
You can be an animal activist, but you still haven’t made it to the shelter to visit them like you keep telling yourself and you are allergic to 95% of animals anyway so there goes actually fostering a poor little helpless creature, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
You can be an artist, but your photography has only made it in two gallery showings and after the first rejection you simply stopped trying and have not produced any new work in over a year, but you keep sharing new versions of your favorite pieces on Instagram so that you feel like you are still “in touch” and if anyone asks, your hobby is street photography. Yeah okay, since when? Come on!
You can be a yogi, but the only exercise you have done in the last three years is walking up the stairs to your second floor office and maybe around the block. You erased the workout app on your phone a while ago because it was taking up too much storage, and you like Hay Day way too much to delete that so. Priorities.
My point is, it’s so easy to be a certain kind of person online that you can sometimes forget that it has to actually translate to real life or you aren’t really that person at all. It’s just the person you want to be.
Let’s be better. Let’s volunteer at least once a year. Let’s check on our neighbors during a crazy pandemic and make sure they are stocked with toilet paper like it’s World War III. Let’s really try and be more healthy, cut out the processed foods and make more dinners from scratch. Let’s write letters to our grandmothers and then teach our children how to write a proper letter so that the art of writing and the simplicity of slowing the world down doesn’t die out. Let’s plant a flower and watch it grow and forget about instant gratification and remember the value of hard work and dedication.
I mean, worse case scenario we can add it to our Facebook story and get lots of likes, right?