Lessons from pandemic living
Stuff + Things

What I’ve Learned About Myself After a Year of Pandemic Living

Pandemic living… Like most, I’m pretty ******* sick of it. It’s been just over a year of it, and… So many ups and downs. But, as with the majority of challenges, I’ve learned a lot from this past year. Particularly about myself. Some reminders, some new realizations. These are my takeaways.

I haven’t been on here in a while. Truthfully, I haven’t felt super inspired or motivated — I actually haven’t had the capacity to feel or be either of those things. On top of pandemic living and COVID fatigue, here’s why:

  • My dad died of cancer back in December, and that really, well, it really broke my heart. Shattered it. More than I could have ever anticipated. Grief is a sneaky emotion.
  • We are in the process of moving to the UK! (More on that soon!)
  • I am back in Victoria, staying with friends as I wait out my visa approval* to join the Brit at our new home in England.
  • January through March was BONKERS with move prep, selling things, dealing with grief, and — because I’m silly, but chose to move forward anyway — a digital marketing course.

And now that I actually have space to breathe and I’m not at level 5000, I had a chance to decant my brain. These are some things I was reminded of, and some new things I’ve realized after a year and a bit of pandemic living.

*UPDATE: I got my approval a few days after posting this!! Woo hoo!

I am resilient.

While I’d prefer to not keep having challenges that provoke the need to be resilient — I was reminded that I have all the tools in my toolbox to get through whatever is thrown at me. But also that resiliency isn’t about bottling it all up and powering through.

To paraphrase the late Leonard Cohen, the cracks need to happen in order for the light to shine through. Or as I like to say, you have to wade through the muck in order to blossom like the water lily. And that often involves a lot of crying. Or talking. Or movement. Or just making time to just be still.

I already had pretty good habits for myself.

My work has been remote since mid-2019, so my morning routine is pretty solid:

  • Wake up 5:30/6:00
  • Meditate
  • Movement (yoga or pilates, and I’ve been LOVING The Class by Taryn Toomey)
  • Shower
  • Get dressed (I cannot and will not work in my PJs. It brings me down.)
  • Hot water with lemon and collagen powder with breakfast at my desk by 8:00 to start my workday. And then, the first of many cups of Earl Grey. (The breakfast at my desk thing is a habit I’ve tried to break. I don’t eat lunch at my desk, but I’ve realized breakfast at my desk actually works for me. So I’m rolling with it.)

While the Brit working from home took some getting used to, we quickly established our routines. We also made a point of not getting into the habit of drinking alcohol more regularly. Wine Thursdays stuck around, but Sunday through Wednesday evenings remained alcohol-free. It’s what made sense for us.

I am very fortunate.

Every single day since COVID became a (hopefully soon to be eliminated) constant in daily life and conversation, I have been even more grateful for my blessings. And even my challenges. I already worked from home, the Brit ended up working from home. We are both healthy. And even when I lost my main source of income, things were still okay financially.

Apparently, I needed to slow down.

While being mostly unemployed for two months wasn’t ideal, I found that instead of “I’m going to do ALL THE THINGS!” (update my blog, etc), I chilled out. I read more books in that time than I had in all of 2019. I kept my morning routine. And when I wasn’t doing the work I did have and applying for jobs, I relaxed. I cannot tell you the last time I felt that relaxed.

It turns out I wanted to work for myself.

This was news to me. When I became mostly unemployed, I was very diligent in applying for work. I had some interviews. Some people answered and requested interviews three months after I had originally applied. But somehow, I ended up fully freelance. I hit a bit of a wall in October because I had too much going on, but I’m happy that I was able to recognize that.

I was ignorant.

The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor really woke the world up. For myself, I am a white, straight female who realized that I had been blind to the experiences of BIPOC people in my life. Some of whom are my family.

The problem is that I was operating on what I realize now is the thought that colour or race don’t matter. I never saw the skin colour of my family and friends. I love them. Why would skin colour and race matter and affect my love for them? But they do matter.

(I recently finished the novel Little Fires Everywhere, which explores this topic in 1997 Ohio. It’s definitely worth a read. Other books I would recommend are So You Want to Talk About Race, White Fragility, and The Help.)

All of this hit me in my heart. I’d had unintentional blinders on and I’ve learned a lot since June of last year. My step-sister Natasha shares her experiences of growing up biracial in this episode of the City Girl Talks podcast. Our parents got together while we were in our early twenties and this was an opportunity for us to learn more about each other’s pre-step sibling lives — I’m so grateful.

I drink a lot of tea.

The amount of Earl Grey tea I consumed in 2020 through to now is almost embarrassing. But I suppose it’s better than drinking too much wine?

I need social interaction.

I think this was a realization for many introverts. I’m more of an extroverted introvert: I love my time to myself or just with the Brit, but need to fill my cup with social interaction. Or, at the very least, have other people around me — like in a yoga class. This comes from working in very social and people-filled environments for a long time and became especially important when I started working from home in 2019. This pandemic stripped that away and it took me a while to come to grips with it.

How have you learned from pandemic living? If you feel comfortable, please share in the comments below. Sending you all love and light — we will get through this!!

Breathe, darling. This is just a chapter. It’s not your whole story.

C. S. Lourie

Leave a Reply