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Every morning I wake up earlier than everyone in my house. I wake up to the silence that makes your ears ring. I meditate, do yoga, eat breakfast, answer some emails, scroll through socials, do some assignments and mold the rest of my day around spending time with my loved ones and watching mindless reality TV.


Because I can. Because I want to. Because when this is all over, I won’t have the opportunity to do this again for God only knows how long.

I keep seeing the same posts float across my social media timeline every other day since the beginning of this quarantine: “If you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill, a new business or more knowledge, you didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked discipline.”

But what if I just don’t want to learn a new skill?

I’m not saying that I won’t learn something new of some kind — because life as a whole is a learning experience — but what if I want to take the time to really focus on my mental well-being and just hit the pause button on life for a bit? For full-time students, freelancers, parents and anyone else who feels overwhelmed by the pressures of society, this is the time to take back the vacation we’ve been wanting, but never came.

Sit the f**k down somewhere and just do absolutely nothing for once. I promise you, whatever has been stressing you out before the quarantine will probably be there once it’s all over. Until it’s time to address it, take the time to focus on you and don’t put a fictitious weight on your shoulder that reads, “insert new skill here.”

While, yes, we can use this time to put our best creative genius foot forward, it’s not something we should feel forced to do. A lot of us quarantine-ers, including myself, are full-time freelancers. This lockdown feels like any regular day, with the exception of having my freedom to go outside being stripped from me. If I’m working around the clock to write press releases, interview talent, schedule content, answer emails and hosting Zoom conference calls, I shouldn't have to feel obligated to allocate my free time to learning a new skill or starting a business.

The free time that I now have to myself that would have otherwise been split between dinner dates with my boyfriend, brunch with my friends and drinks with clients can now be used for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

As I write this, my boyfriend is teaching himself French, my best friend is learning sign language, my sister is losing weight and my cousins recently assembled a new bookshelf in their living room. All of these new habits that they’re forming and skills they’re racking up are applaudable, commendable and everything in-between, but if I mix together imposter syndrome, the peer pressure to keep up with my friends’ new skill sets and staying in the house with lack of natural light and Vitamin D, I don’t see this lockdown going well for me at all. Sure, I’m learning how to experiment with my natural hair because I can’t go visit my homegirl, Keima, to braid it up real quick, but don’t expect me to start a StyleSeat account when this is over.

I’ve always been a believer in “you make time for what you want to make time for,” be it friendships, relationships, side gigs or self-care. I don’t believe that those who don’t come out of this with a new skill lack discipline, maybe they really do just lack the time. Have you taken a second to think about how much free time, or lack thereof, full-time single parents must have? What about the business owner whose business is slowly starting to go belly up? I think starting a new business is the last thing on his mind when he has to figure out how to feed his family with the one he’s barely holding onto. Wouldn’t you agree?

This is the time for everyone who is just like me, or worse — those who have the involuntary habit of working around the clock nonstop. It’s not because I want to, but it’s also not because I have to. I can stop working at pretty much any point in the day and I have the ability to curate my own schedule, which is the blessing and curse of being a freelancer.

Hi, my name is D’Shonda Brown and I’m a workaholic.

Time management is not just a buzzword to have on your resume to make sure you get to the second round of interviews; it’s an actual discipline. During this time inside, I don’t want to learn a new skill. I don’t want to start a new business. I gain knowledge every single day, so I don’t think I need to put that on my to-do list. If anything’s going to happen, I’m going to come out of this pandemic with a better sense of self-respect regarding how much time I put into my work versus how much time I put into myself. Media placements and exclusive interviews are cute, but burnout isn’t.

I see classes, seminars and webinars galore about how to “properly” use your time during quarantine and how to keep yourself busy and productive. Truth be told, I think that’s the issue. We shouldn’t feel like we have to do something just because we can. Just because someone has a Canon camera doesn’t mean they should feel like they have to create a YouTube channel, become a photographer or push out consistent content. Sure, it can most definitely be a new hobby to explore, but I don’t believe we should feel pressure to turn every single thing from this quarantine into dollar signs.

This is how anxiety happens — when you’re feeling like you’re not doing enough in comparison to nobody else but yourself.

If you have the time to do something that you’ve always wanted to do and you genuinely want to do it, by all means, knock yourself out. But don’t feel this created pressure to compete with anyone on social media, your friends, colleagues or even yourself. Take the time to sleep in late because once everyone starts going back to regularly scheduled programming, sleeping past 7 a.m. may be a distant memory for a lot of you 9-to-5-ers. Meditate and get your mind right; take your time getting ready in the morning, because it’s not like you have anywhere to be outside.

Turn your phone on airplane mode. Delete your Gmail app. Decompress. Unwind. Recharge. Repeat.