Marlee Silva: ‘This Year I’m Saying No to Toxic Productivity and Yes to Seeing My Friends’

Marlee Silva
Instagram @marlee.silva

If you’re anything like me, you probably woke up on the 1st of January 2021, with a little hangover, some blurry but cheerful memories of the night before and a warm, comforting sense of confidence that the bin fire that was 2020, was finally and thankfully over.
Fast forward almost four months in though, and the world has promptly laughed in the face of our naivety, ensuring a continuing COVID-19 crisis, violence, coups, furious demonstrations across the globe and terrifying and bizarre (but so ‘of this era’) revelations, like that Hollywood star being accused of cannibalism.

The living, breathing meme that was 2020, so it seems, could not be shaken off or reset with a new calendar year, and in the face of this realisation, I’ve found myself wondering, if things continue like this, how are we to make it through the rest of the year in one piece?

Just before we clocked off for the Christmas break last December, I was asked quite a few times what I’d learned from the lessons of the past year, what had the chaos and the way the status quo was completely thrown out the window, taught me?

In searching for the answer to those questions I found, while this might be an unpopular opinion, when I look back on 2020 in the years to come, I’ll see it as a year that changed me for the better.

Before COVID halted my world as I knew it, I was sprinting through life, panicked that there was never enough time and I was never doing enough. Causing me to constantly sacrifice time with loved ones and time to do the things that bring me joy, to work myself to the bone.

This toxic lifestyle was born from a burn out culture which can be seen across the board for Gen Z’s and Millennials who hold extremely high-expectations for themselves and often fall victim to a rigid societal norm that seems to exist around what age we should be hitting milestones like: graduating from university, getting our dream job or buying a house and settling down.

We live in a world of ’30 under 30’ awards, a world where everyone constructs a perfect version of their life online to prove to everyone else they’ve got it together, only to their friends or celebrities do the same, with envy.

From where I’m sitting, right up until they shut the borders and thrust us into lockdown, myself and many of my peers were moving too quickly to be able to see something vital to our survival, success and to our happiness, that we were disregarding.

It’s this thing which I believe we absolutely need to get through another year of uncertainty. Something so simple that we had in the bucket loads before we hit puberty, but slowly but surely pushed to the back of our priorities as we grew up.

In my opinion the one attitude and practice we need to gift back to ourselves without guilt or worry, is valuing and making space for good old fashioned fun.

Yes, I said fun.

The kind of fun that makes your bellyache, that has no purpose deeper than to bring a smile to your dial, that can make memories and birth feelings of bliss that can last and support you on the tough days, and at its best, help to make whatever weight you’re carrying on your shoulders that little bit lighter.

Never again will I say no to a spontaneous catch up with some old friends because I’m ‘too busy’. Never again will I cut my fun on a night out short because I’m worried about meeting a deadline, nor will I take work calls in the middle of a dinner.

I will never take those opportunities for silliness, for relaxing and for fun in whatever form it takes for granted because we only have one life to live and we should fill every possible moment of it with joy for the sake of joy, without reason.

In 2021, lets practice balance. It’s time to tell yourself, work can wait, those milestones you want to hit will be there when you’re ready to reach them. There’s no time limit on success, but the moments you spend with your head down, missing the world go by and passing up precious seconds with those who matter to you the most, are ones you can’t get back.

So consider this your sign, get out there and for goodness sake go have some fun!

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