As demand for business travel starts to increase again, I am reflecting on the last year – it has been so odd, so strange and so horrible, but not necessarily hard. Like many chauffeurs, on the surface, it appears that a lack of demand in the travel industry hasn’t taken too much of a toll. Looking back, there were few 3 am alarms to wake up for, I spent plenty of time safe at home with my family and financially, things are still reasonable.
Dig deeper and I can honestly say that despite an initial panic in March and April 2020, things haven’t been too bad. On the flip side however, I can say they haven’t been too great either. Nothing is really wrong but nothing is really right. It has been a horrible time of sitting and waiting for some sense of normality to return to the world. A constant state of limbo land. It has been a boring, uncertain and slow journey.
I wasn’t really aware of how it truly felt until reading an article from The New York Times. The stagnation of the last year has affected my mojo but not like ever before. I’m still keen and there is a fire in my belly but it just doesn’t burn the same way at the moment. It is a simmering flame rather than a booming roar. As a coping strategy, I have entered a phase of stasis. Suspended in uncertainty. Waiting for something (beyond my control) to change.
Slowly plodding through the days, completing mundane tasks around the house (in an effort to while away the hours) has been horrible, but not necessarily hard. For someone with an active mind, the thought of enduring another boring day has been a form of mental torture. Having no aim or goal to work toward is unrewarding. Psychologically, it deserves recognition as a condition in itself and it now has an official label as ‘languishing’.
Not Ill But Not Well Either
A person in this state is not mentally ill but neither are they mentally well. They are not depressed. Nor are they suffering burn out. They are suffering from a lack of mental engagement in a meaningful process. There is little joy to be gained from mundane tasks which only serve to compound the situation. What is needed is a proper challenge and to feel like you are firing on all cylinders. Simply having your engine on tick over is not enough to feel content.
The chances are, in the next year or two, many people will have a new mental health condition. It is likely to be doing harm but will not necessarily be bad enough in their own opinion to warrant professional attention. Languishing is a horrible place. It is like staring at a brick wall with a loud clock ticking away and no end in sight. There is no threat or physical harm to the person but neither is there fulfilment, enjoyment or the very sense of being human.
Filling The Void With Opportunity
After reading the article on languishing and recognising the anguish caused by the pandemic, it was a revelation. I realised the emptiness of waiting for things to change is horrible but not necessarily hard. The spare time on my hands simply needs using differently. Rather than wasting time, it is an opportunity to find new knowledge and understanding. It is a chance to engage in something fresh. For me, that will come from reading. Reading great books from academia that stimulate new seeds and thought processes – which eventually grow in to something meaningful and rewarding.