I used to be an extrovert, but now I’d say I’m more an ‘extroverted introvert’. That means I’m still outgoing, but my environment affects my mood, and I’m an introvert at heart. In my late teens and earlier twenties, Friday night was every night, and I didn’t let work, college or uni get in the way of a good night out, but I also never let a good night out interfere with my work – I had a good balance.
I can pinpoint the exact day in 2017 when that all changed for me, and threw myself into my work which, at the time, was publishing an anthology, creating a magazine and trying to graduate. After two nasty break-ups, work was what I needed to take my mind off of such a significant change that I was facing, and, from then on, I never stopped. Even after I finished my MA, I was always working on something: my manuscript, my blog, writing for Voice or looking for full-time work, and then the Covid-19 outbreak happened: the world came to a stop, and frankly so did I.
Since lockdown began, I find myself actively avoiding my phone. If it’s not more bad news or racist comments towards China on social media, it’s a new challenge, a new hashtag or a new way to cope with being on lockdown that I can’t bring myself to participate in. I can understand why people would welcome the distraction, but as a freelancer, working from home is something that I’m used to.
I don’t want to feel bad for not making the “most” of this time by working on my summer body or writing the first Coronavirus themed dystopian novel. I’ve decided to welcome the lockdown as a reason to reboot, spend some time by myself by doing whatever it is I want to do – inside the house – and not feeling bad for any of it. Something like this won’t likely happen again in our lifetime; why not make the most out of a truly devastating situation.
In my everyday life, I have to always be on for my friends, for my family, for my future. This time is the little light in a very dark tunnel to contemplate, reflect, and just be. Life is stressful enough for people at the best of times. For me, wanting to break into a world ruled by nepotism, makes making it seem impossible at times. Being a graduate in this employment climate, even before Coronavirus struck, is an ongoing battle. Being a writer in a world where anyone with a twitter account or a blue tick on Instagram is a potential rival, is nothing short of a Herculean task.
Since the lockdown, my brain hasn’t allowed me to think of anything creative. Of course, when this began, I had the best of intentions. I was going to work on my manuscript, write a few articles, start a few other projects fallen to the waste side because of everyday commitments, and so far I haven’t achieved any of those things – and that’s OK.
Usually, when I slack, I get this horrible feeling of guilt that builds up in my stomach and does not subside until I make something worthwhile materialise. That feeling hasn’t come around once. The reason I’m writing this is to remind people it’s OK to stop, to reboot and relax.
If you’re feeling in a bind, unmotivated, less confident or lacking some self-esteem, just know that it’s OK to feel that way. Don’t beat yourself for having a few pyjamas days or for not learning a new language or skill. I know the Coronavirus connotes an end-of-days-tomorrow-isn’t-promised kind of vibe, but you have to do what’s best for you in this time. If you need a break, take it, don’t succumb to this unnecessary pressure just because everyone’s favourite highlight reel demands this of us.
Binge Tiger King, skip leg day, take advantage of this time because I doubt there will ever be another in our lifetime where societal pressures are put on hold and staying at home is an actual an achievement.
Stay safe, everyone and stay home.