On Motivation in Isolation

Freya Howard

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Note: Written during the May 2020 lockdown; transcript taken from “on motivation in isolation” VertigoTV Student Spotlight.

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The thing about navigating a waiting space like COVID isolation is that time is cracked by circumstance. And without a real sense of time, my motivation has gotten a bit lost. Everything feels like it’s on pause.

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It’s also a little hard to know who I am at the moment because I have found that I rely a bit too much on the constant dialogue of other people’s eyes darting around in my brain. It keeps my mind in this constant dichotomy of crafting myself through comparison to others, and then giving myself shit for comparing myself to others, which then spurs self-improvement and psychoanalysis. This is not necessarily a healthy dichotomy, but it is one that has contributed to a key brick in my Identity House, or Identity Wall (however you’d like to imagine it).

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So, when I’ve had to take down some of these bricks over the course of isolation, this dichotomy has left behind a handful of sad, little maggot friends that have been dragged out into the light. And I’ve been tasked with looking these maggot friends in the eyes and deciding which ones to re-home. Because, the thing about these maggot friends is that while they may be causing structural damage in the damp cracks of my Identity House, I’m sure they can serve as key, happy, thriving parts of an ecosystem somewhere else. I’ve just gotta wade through a mushy, mushy construction site to get there because I took a bit of a sledgehammer to Time half-way through April to try and craft the ‘in-between’ into a space of experimentation.

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Anyway, here are some of the key things I’ve learned, I think:

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‘Special’ is our choices in the most mundane situations possible.

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The ‘aligning of stars’ is the craft of perspective, and discomfort feels uncomfortable.

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Finally, ‘motivation’ is a negotiation. A negotiation between me, my maggot friends, and the slew of tradies who came into my brain to confiscate my sledgehammer and bring some sense of order to the shards of time I’ve left strewn around my thoughts.