What Do You Do When the Pandemic Makes You Lose Interest In Your Passions?

There was a phrase I came across back when the pandemic just started and everyone was still coming to terms with the fact that the outdoors is now a dangerous place to be and that nothing was ever going to be the same again. “The Great Empty.” It was used to describe places around the world that have become devoid of the usual crowds — like train stations and New York City tourist spots — but I quickly realized that it can be used to perfectly describe what I was feeling deep inside too.

“The Great Empty.” It was as if every plan I ever made in my life fizzled out into a wisp of smoke I could no longer grasp. Suddenly, all that I was ever passionate about seemed either lackluster or far too much for me to handle at my current (emotional, mental, physical) state of being. Unfinished projects now sit on the shelves gathering dust. Free time is now spent taking naps and doom-scrolling through social media feeds. Energy has become so easily depleted by working full-time at home that I recoil from the mere thought of spending it on any other hobby. I’ve lost interest in my passions and there’s nothing else for me to do but grieve.

mental healthvia GIPHY

How do you cope when the pandemic has made you lose sight of what used to bring you joy? When the creative juices have stopped flowing, when side-hustles become extra work you’re too tired to do, or when you can no longer afford to invest in your small business? I don’t know how long it’s been since I did That Thing I Used To Love and every time I think about it, I’m riddled with guilt, remorseful over how easily I let That Thing go — just like most hobbies I’ve done throughout my life.

Multiple times, I’ve tried jumping back in or getting back into the groove of creating. And then my focus would change and I’d tell myself, “I’ll do That Thing tomorrow,” only realizing a month after that I had completely neglected That Thing once again.

The horrible part isn’t actually the Not Doing of That Thing; it’s watching other people become successful with their own Things as though they’ve got their pandemic lives all under control. And I can’t help but be hounded by thoughts of why I feel so defeated by this “New Normal” and what I’m doing so wrong that my mental health hasn’t improved since its dramatic decline following the worldwide lockdowns.

mental health

Perhaps we don’t give ourselves enough credit for being able to gather strength to push through amid difficult times. I want to say that I still enjoy That Thing, but I’m tired and terrified of losing that fire within me if I force myself to do it when I truly cannot. Does it mean that I’m giving myself space to prioritize my emotional need to take things slow and revel in lazy leisure time, or does it just mean that I don’t find happiness in my passions anymore?

Maybe there isn’t a right answer. And maybe I shouldn’t punish myself for it. Because, really, there is no quick and easy way to adapt to these changes. We simply do what we believe is best for us and trust that we’ll eventually find our way back.

(ALSO READ: What Happens When Your Passions Start Changing?)

In the meantime, we need to let ourselves enjoy what we currently do — even though they’re not exactly considered hobbies that you boast about on Instagram. I may spend most of my time now binging Youtube videos, watching Twitch streams, and reading fan-fiction, but I’m happy, comforted, and at peace — and that’s all we could ever really ask for at this moment in time. I need to unlearn the guilt of not feeling “productive enough.” I need to let go of the fear that, by hitting pause on my dreams, I won’t ever be able to pursue them again.

Because I still will. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe it’s still too early for me to realize that certain passions of mine were never meant to stay forever. Or maybe all these detours were necessary so I could be stronger and wiser when I ever decide to bring these dreams to life once again.

This pandemic has taught me that nothing is permanent and nothing is certain. And so we must take life one step at a time, with patience and a lot of grace, and, quite possibly, allow our hearts to rediscover new passions to love.

Heart and Brain Passion Comic

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