Languishing: a feeling of meh

May 17, 2021

Languishing. A word I did not know about before Adam Grant’s poignant Op-Ed piece in the New York Times was published on April 19,2021. But this explained it.  I finally had a word for the struggle I’ve felt for the last few months.

I entered into the pandemic in a good place mentally.  It was hard, but I could figure it out.

In January I noticed my mood had started to take a nose-dive. I have a pretty full toolbox from years of therapy. I went back to basics and tried mightily to course-correct, putting into action what I have learned. Days, then weeks passed, and I noticed that things were not changing. I layered on taking an active role in my physical health (something that is a massive challenge for me during the winter months). I doubled down on dietary changes and increased physical activity, as well as raw, honest conversations with my husband and therapist.

Still, I was feeling meh. I had lost my zest. Normal everyday adulting felt overwhelming and I just could not pull myself together to fake it at times. I didn’t feel depressed – I have been there before and this felt different. I struggled to describe exact what I was going through, other than meh. And then came this piece, and it stopped me in my tracks.

Adam Grant wrote “It wasn’t burnout – we still had energy. It wasn’t depression – we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. Turns out there’s a name for that: languishing”. In that moment, reading those words, I felt seen, understood and validated. “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels like you are muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” WOW.

I have read the piece multiple times over the last few weeks.  I have shared it with friends and family members whom I know have been feeling similar. While I am still feeling meh, I have noticed a shift over the last two weeks. I feel less guilt. Prior to reading the article, I felt alone. That there must be something wrong with me. We have all been navigating this pandemic for over a year. Why would it just hit me now? Why can’t I just get my act together? Why can’t I stop worrying about things that are so, so far beyond my control? Why can’t I be amore active, present, positive mom and wife?

This article validated that I am not alone. That I am not crazy. That this is something more than feeling overwhelmed. That there is a bigger reason as to why all the work I was putting into managing my mental health wasn’t hitting the mark. And with that validation, came liberation. Now that I had the ability to describe eloquently how I was feeling, it opened the opportunity to connect with friends and family to have authentic, genuine conversations. Sharing and storytelling is a path to healing for me. It eliminates the shame I feel about not showing up as my best self, both at work and at home. It puts me in community with those around me who are navigating their own feelings of languishing. Letting go of guilt, shame and comparison to others has made a significant positive impact on my mindset. Don’t get me wrong…I am still meh. But if I started at an 8 out of 10 on the meh scale, I would say I am now sitting at a solid 5. Baby steps in working towards a bigger goal – getting my zest back.

May is Mental Health Awareness month. So, I wanted to share with you, that if you are feeling meh, if you are languishing, or living with any form of mental health illness, I am holding space for you. You are welcome in the Chronically Simple community. I know that our struggles are individual and unique, you are not alone. I am walking this walk right beside you. We have made it through 100% of our worst days and we will make it through these. I worry a lot about the future…so I am intentionally doing life day by day right now. Sometimes hour by hour. And that is ok. We just need to keep inching forward.

Take care of yourself, physically and mentally, because you are valued and loved. This is the message I receive from my friends and family, and I wanted to share it with you.