Why Now Is Not the Time to Learn Japanese. On the recommendation of a good contact, I recently joined a self-help group on Facebook. The chap who runs it has quite a following – he clearly offers valuable insight, which is very well received.
When lockdown commenced, he immediately launched a 3-day challenge, to capitalise on this God-given opportunity to get that “thing” done that you have always been meaning to do. Always meant to write a book? Train for a marathon? Learn Japanese? Take up competitive dog grooming? Well, now is the time!
For my part, I had no appetite to get onto any of those things – I was too busy! I was trying to get to grips with caring for elderly parents, at the same time as adapting my business on the fly to keep going in the midst of a global pandemic. Whilst clearly well intentioned, in my view his challenge just came too soon.
And he is not alone in issuing a rallying cry to us all to make the most of the opportunity lockdown presents – Twitter is awash with others urging us to take decisive action and change our lives.
Do we need this additional pressure at a time of heightened anxiety and sweeping, enforced change? Or should we instead recognise how difficult the current circumstances are and cut ourselves some slack?
I know which I vote for.
An expert in emotional health, Nataly Kogan, brought home to me the absurdity of this well-meaning, but ill-judged advice. She is currently running free, weekly webinars to provide support during these trying times, which are attended by over a thousand people across the globe. I heartily recommend tuning in:
Whilst berating herself recently for not ticking off everything on her to-do list, she took a moment to recognise how her negative self-talk was undermining her ability to achieve. She advised her 1,000-strong audience to mitigate the impact of such self-talk, by qualifying it with the words “during this global pandemic”.
“I should be using this time much more productively …. during this global pandemic.”
When put like that, it sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it?
We may have more time on our hands, as we are not currently travelling for work or for social reasons. And many of us have been shelved by our employers – or “furloughed”, to use the newly-popular euphemism. But let’s not underestimate the huge emotional toll this is taking on each and every one of us. Overnight, we lost structure, purpose, social connection – our whole way of life changed without our permission.
We all need to navigate the current circumstances the best way we can. For some, this may involve indulging in an activity they have put off for a long time – and the very best of British to them! But for many, the adjustments required to cope might be all they can handle – and that is good enough.
Not the Time to Learn Japanese.
No, no – allow me to back up and try that again: Keeping body and soul together in the face of this unprecedented crisis is a marvellous achievement. Very well done, one and all!