The biggest lesson I learned this semester? Coming to terms with internalized capitalism
It’s time to forgive ourselves for not being productive enough in a global pandemic
The most eye-opening thing I’ve learned this semester was coming to terms with how deeply I have internalized a capitalist mindset, in regards to what it means to succeed in university and in everyday life.
This mindset that I have blindly believed equates my worth with my daily levels of productivity.
The most eye-opening thing I’ve learned this semester was coming to terms with how deeply I have internalized a capitalist mindset, in regards to what it means to succeed in university and in everyday life. This mindset that I have blindly believed equates my worth with my daily levels of productivity.
The mindset that a capitalist society teaches us is that we, as individuals, must maximize our productivity in order to rise above those we are competing with, which, in the case of university, is most often our fellow peers.
Unable to go to the library and stuck looking at the same four walls of my apartment, I have felt completely absent of any drive to produce or accomplish anything school-related. Even upping my dosage of ADHD meds couldn’t spark motivation.
This semester, the days dragged on, and yet months seemed to slip past my fingers, leaving me pondering what I had even done in that time. I felt like I had no purpose and that there was something wrong with me. I felt completely worthless.
But why? Because I wasn’t, in my eyes, being productive “enough” academically. But how do you measure doing enough, and enough for whose standards?
We exist in a system that equates our output of productive work with our self-worth, which carries over into all areas of our lives. On weekends this semester, I would try to give myself more permission to relax, to sleep in, and take my time doing whatever I wanted. I still felt an internalized guilt, because I was enjoying leisure, rather than focusing on producing work. What I believed I was lacking in output, made me feel like I was lacking in worth, due to what I had led capitalist rhetoric to blindly believe.
The days during this semester where I allowed myself to feel bad for being unable to accomplish academic work were the darkest of the pandemic.
At the end of a day where I would just stare at my computer, feeling uninspired, I would try to remind myself that I had made it through another day. Simply getting through a day, getting by in general, was something I tried to remember was also worth considering. Just because I didn’t do academic work the majority of the time didn’t mean that I wasn’t doing or accomplishing anything.
The moments I felt most accomplished these past few months were when I didn’t allow myself to bathe in the self-hate that arose when I would allow myself to rest. I would let myself connect with other students through social media, realizing they were in the same position as me, feeling worthless because they lacked drive and ambition.
We all did what we could to get through this semester. Some days, even weeks, are a blur. For many, including myself, there were many days filled with sadness, frustration, disappointment and anger. But, we used the time we had this semester any way we could to get through it. Am I supporting the idea that we should all give up and start drinking wine at noon every day? No, but it’s essential to appreciate what we did, indeed, make it through this semester.