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5 Things You Don’t Have To Do

Photo: Sisoje/Getty

Dear Forge Reader,

Lately, I’ve been struggling to ignore that tiny drill sergeant lodged in my brain, the one who can’t seem to shut up about productivity. Last weekend, she ordered me to spend two days poring over notes for a book-in-progress I’d been ignoring for months… and yes, she got mad at me when I gave up to binge The Good Place.

Here’s the thing: Living in an upside-down world is hard. It’s exhausting. It takes a flavor of energy we didn’t even know existed. And while there are some things we absolutely need to do each day, there are also a lot of things we can forgive ourselves for skipping.

For one thing, you don’t have to be polite. Politeness can be hazardous in a pandemic. If someone is encroaching on your social distance, as Kate Morgan writes, it’s totally fair to say “HEY HI SIX FEET PLEASE” without feeling guilty.

And I know some of your wonderful and annoying friends are rediscovering the joy of meal planning and advanced food prep. But look, these are not normal times, and you don’t have to eat normal meals. There’s a reason why toddlers dig in their heels about food: When there’s not much in life you can control, there’s something empowering about eating a grilled cheese at 9 a.m.

Here’s a big one, and hear me out: You don’t have to pay attention to all the news all the time. Really. For your own mental health, please, give yourself a break.

Speaking of mental health: You don’t have to meditate to relieve your anxiety. Herbert Lui reminds us that there are lots of other soothing daily practices you can turn to instead — from baking bread to drawing a crappy self-portrait to flossing.

Oh, and even though you’re stuck at home and it would be really nice if everything were as tidy as an influencer’s “candid” Instagrams, it’s okay if your space is messy. You don’t have to get organized. In fact, a little mess might just help you to make some interesting connections you wouldn’t otherwise see.

But here’s one thing you can, and absolutely should, do: Allow yourself to be bored — aimlessly, gloriously, ecstatically bored. We promise, it’s good for your brain. No matter what your inner drill sergeant says.

Yours in staring at the wall,

Amy Shearn, Forge senior editor

Creator Success @ Medium // Editor of Human Parts & Creators Hub // Novelist // Person