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Reflecting on Self-Growth in Isolation

by Annabelle Critz

Self-growth and productivity are topics on the top of everyone's minds right now. As someone who struggles with this concept, I have been told that my late teens and early twenties are when pivotal discoveries occur, and our every action must contribute to our future 'perfect' personhood. Not only is this mindset exhausting to have for longer than an hour on any given day, but it's also rather challenging to feel like we have achieved a lot when we cannot even leave the house. But how can we find the perfect balance between actual self-growth versus guilt-tripping ourselves for not being 'perfect'? 

While I struggle with the idea of perfection since it is such an abstract quality that is difficult to understand, I wholeheartedly believe there are lots of little steps that you can take every day to become a healthier and stronger version of yourself. I think that the desire for self-growth needs to happen organically; it cannot be born out of self-loathing. Therefore, I suggest that you get started by writing down a list of no more than five (5) things that you would like to accomplish by the end of quarantine. You can also try listing another five (5) for the end of the year. I highly suggest this method of going about your goals. I did this list for my New Years' resolutions, and it helped me break down my goals into achievable steps/blocks. 

In a world of infinite options, what should you spend your time doing? I am not qualified to tell you what would make your heart happy, but I'll let you know some of mine. My father takes great pleasure in calling me a nerd, but I prefer the term 'big reader,' (but to each their own). I established a goal—for every fun book I read one of great importance. I'll read something like 'Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover' by Sarah MacLean but then read 'Madame Bovary' by Gustave Flaubert. I found this the perfect way to balance pleasure and education. This ideology can easily translate into movies or tv shows. I believe too often we get sucked into rewatching the same things over and over again. I am certainly guilty of this, so I recruited a movie buff for suggestions. Pop culture is an essential makeup of a well-rounded person nowadays; if you can find a movie buddy, I highly suggest it. I call this my movie-cation, where I try to watch as many culturally influential films as possible. It is one of my overall goals in life to be well-rounded and in the modern age, knowing your pop culture is an essential part of being well rounded. This is also what I tell myself when I spend a little too long watching tv during the day. 

Food is big for me and my family. I made it a goal to become especially handy in the kitchen. If you're a college student of some cooking renown, most late nights end up like an episode of Chopped. You have a whole kitchen, four ingredients, and two utensils. While I have somewhat mastered the midnight pasta dish, I decided to cook two meals a week that require more skill than improvision Cooking. Like most things, cooking cannot be learned overnight, it takes years of accumulating skills. It is a big goal and for any big goal, it needs to be broken down into bite-size pieces! Hence the two meals a week. I suggest you take this same philosophy into any big, seemingly impossible goal, like all things that are hard I like to add a 'fun' element to it. For cooking, I went with cocktail making and let me just tell you its a hoot. Cocktail making kits are cheap on amazon, and if everything is fresh, you can create some beautiful drinks. 

Along with being a nerd, I am also a big crafter. I have a fundamental belief that everyone should know how to sew a button on. Now is the time, throw a show on and figure it out. If you want to learn embroidery, kits with three patterns run for under twenty dollars on Amazon, order one. If you aren't interested in crafting, find something simple that you can do with your hands, that is. Maybe now is that time to make a birdhouse. 

What I am struggling the most with right now is that gyms are closed. I am someone who relies on working out and eating clean to feel stable. Working out is also a great way to see the fruits of labor right on your body. With gyms closed, it becomes easy to sit in your house and eat all the boredom baked goods. If it feels right for you and your body, go for a walk outside; this is a great time to embrace a daily habit of working out if it's something you've been interested in. If you want to go a step further, try downloading a fitness app on your device and do what you can at home. I personally love the Peloton App, sign up is free for 90 days and they have an amazing assortment of workouts. I’ve used MyFitness Pal before to track my workouts and I highly suggest it for logging mile times if you're getting into running or walking more. While now might not be the best time to begin the habit of clean eating, because we shouldn't be worrying about counting calories, if you do have anxiety around eating, you could try switching out some of the munchy snacks with crunchy fruits like apples, they'll still have a satisfying crunch and a bit of sweet, too. 

Above all, don't feel obligated to do something. Sometimes what you need is a break. So get lots of sleep, wash your face, brush your teeth, and drink lots of water. Establish a daily to-do list and be exceptionally patient with yourself. Now is the time to begin small habits, like five minutes of meditation, thirty minutes of reading, and ten-minute workouts. I suggest taking less time on your phone, especially right around bedtime. If you desire to do more, pick small applicable goals and center your days around them.  

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