This week started on a high – maybe too high – but today has really lived up to its name. I’ve felt very deflated, with all good intention wafting out the door. I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles these days, in Lockdown Life. I’ve taken to standing at the front window looking out – on a virtually silent street – completely bemused by the fact we’re still here – nearly a year later. I still can’t get my head around it.
I saw a meme on Twitter earlier that said something along the lines of: “I can’t believe it’s March next month, when it was only March last month” – and honestly, I felt that. So much has happened, but it really doesn’t feel like it and it’s got me to thinking (I’m doing a SATC rewatch, can you tell?):
What the fuck is time, anyway? And, while we’re at it: What has time done to me?
I was talking to a colleague yesterday and I realised, I have changed so much. The conversation was in relation to a piece of work I took the lead on last year that literally gave me anxiety dreams for weeks. This year I’m on it again – with her – and I’ve concluded: I literally don’t give a fuck any more.
Obviously I care about the quality of what I do but 12 months ago I was so concerned with what senior management thought of what I was doing, of what might happen if I fucked up even a tiny bit… now all I think is: there are bigger things to worry about now – and, my work does not define me.
A lot of that would have come naturally with a year’s experience under my belt anyway but living through a pandemic adds a little something something to the equation. I think my confidence has also grown with knowing I can roll with the punches with a mostly good attitude if I need to – and also accepting that I’m good at what I do, even under pressure. Sometimes especially under pressure.
But this isn’t about work, it’s about time and I don’t think it’s going to be very coherent. Which is fine. I like a bit of existential rambling.
Whenever something really bad has happened in my life, I’ve always lamented the unfairness of things carrying on as normal, as if my pain is so inconsequential it doesn’t even register. How dare the world keep spinning when I’ve been made redundant/been broken-hearted/fallen out with a friend? It seems like a cruel joke that everything and everyone won’t just take a minute’s silence to acknowledge it/me. I’d be happy to do the same for others.
But the fact of the matter is, I’d never get my arse in gear if the world just stopped. I’d be in bed with the covers pulled over my head, feeling justified. I might feel like my life is FUBAR but I need the universe to keep doing what it does best so I can pick myself up and dust myself off, and go do it all again.
So to think of the world still operating despite massive tragedy, trauma and change, it’s a lot. It’s a miracle. I can’t believe we’re still doing the thing, even though some of us have lost a lot, even though every day seems identical and sometimes hopeless. I’m shooketh when I think of the speed in which all this became almost natural. And, while we adapted, we also took some time to slow down and in some cases, stop for a while.
It’s in this space I’ve both lost who I am and started to rebuild her. I always thought I thrived on the buzz of the workplace – of socialising 2-3 times a week, always knowing the best gossip and having tonnes of friends. Liking most people and pleasing everybody. My life is good and it was good last year but my circle is now smaller and my connections are deeper – and it feels good.
I’m not ditching anyone dramatically but the friendships I’ve cherished throughout this are the ones I want to focus on when I come out. I won’t spread myself as thinly as I used to, that for sure.
In the same vein, I now have a better understanding of what’s important to me. There have been periods in my life that I’ve taken for granted the relationships I have with my family and the last year has sharpened focus on them. I think we all know now you can’t always count on tomorrow, so make sure your loved ones know who they are and what they mean.
As for me, being locked up with myself for such an extended period hasn’t always been fun. The war between myself and my anxious voice has raged more violently than ever but we’re in a truce now and that’s the best I can hope for. In the meantime, all I can really do is enjoy a slower place, be as productive as possible and do my best. None of us are expected to produce our best work right now (everyone except Taylor Swift that is) and there’s some freedom in that.
I’m going to think hard about the things I really want to do and who I want to be when the pandemic ends. Maybe I’ll set the world on fire with three brilliant folk albums or maybe, I’ll just be me again, but wiser.