Languishing, "the dominant emotion of 2021."

Do you remember those mornings when you didn’t feel like getting up and going to work? Do you recall sometime after May 2020 when you started feeling like this every single day?! Apparently, it’s not just you and me, but everyone is waking up in a haze. And though we don’t talk about it openly, it sounds like we all started to ask ourselves when a bottle of wine at breakfast would become socially acceptable. From Adam Grant of the NYT:

At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating. Colleagues reported that even with vaccines on the horizon, they weren’t excited about 2021. It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

Sounds familiar? How often have you asked, “what day is it,” in the last twelve months? Scratch that, how often have you asked, “what day is it,” today? Foggy windshield indeed, and just like everything pandemic related it potentially gets worse!

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways, it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

What in the actual…did the dinosaurs have to go through this shit? First, we get a virus that turns everyone into a permanent waterboarding victim, then we avoid human contact like we’re all that weird bubble kid with no immune system in that one ABC After School Special. And now this. Hey, you survived the zombie pandemic test run, but now you have a mental illness. Awesome!

When I got my first shot, I felt like I had just taken the first step in some sort of addiction recovery process—as if I had chosen to take a new path in life. If the first shot was the start of the process, the second felt like it was validation that I had changed my ways. This may sound weird, but after learning about this mental state, maybe I’m not so crazy. Or perhaps I’m not.