21 May 2021

“Now I shall know unrest again, /And all my heart that was so still/Will beat in me like troubled tides/And urge me to its will”     -Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

In 2002, languishing was defined by Emory University professor Corey Keyes as “the absence of mental health.” It’s that “blegh” feeling of just being done, but not quite being depressed.

As more of the world (or at least the U.S) gets vaccinated and masks become more of a question mark (whether or not they should be), it’s hard to feel joyful. It’s not the “all clear” cathartic moment we were hoping for but an ambiguous, frustrating, somewhat depressing phenomenon. There is relief, and there should be relief, for instance, in getting vaccinated (please get vaccinated), but it seems unlikely at this point that we’ll get to experience the victory-hurrah – “we did it boys, let’s go home” moment when it comes to COVID, especially if you’re dialed into the international scene. COVID-19 continues to be problem on a global scale, corporations continue to pump poison into Earth’s ecosystems and across the planet, power continues to quash truth in the name of self-defense.

Maybe you’re past the point of being burnt out. Finals are coming up, the year is coming to a close, you’ve got things to do. Languishing is like burn out’s low key frenetic cousin, anxiously active but with the same genetic framework of malaise. If you find yourself languishing, take an ounce of comfort in knowing that you are very much not alone, that summer is still coming, and that even as you’re getting worn down, you’re also developing the type of low slow resilience that comes from survival.

“Surely humanity is in grave loss, /except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to perseverance.” -Surah Asr

Iman Jafri,
Associate Chaplain for Muslim and Interfaith Life