Today, for the first time since the end of March, I looked in my Filofax. Usually the small, treasured item that organises my life and it looked at most days, it has been left untouched for the best part of 3 months. There were some things scribbled out in it, from when Covid-19 first started cancelling all our plans, but I had stopped at the middle of June, unsure at the time how long the virus would last. I don’t think any of us were really sure and June let alone September still felt like a long time away, so cancelling things beyond June seemed silly. I wasn’t naive in thinking they were definitely going to be fine, but I also didn’t know so it was worth leaving them for the time being.
Now though, as more and more things get cancelled, it was time to get scribbling again. But, in a period of hopefulness, it was also a time for quiet optimism, as I started making a note on one of the back pages about dates that had been rearranged for next year. And whether we like looking that far in advance or not, it’s not going to be too long until the annual leave rota for 2021 gets sent around at my Husband’s job, so we sat down today to decide what week’s we’d like him to have off.
This, coupled with lots of thinking on my walks has made me realise that I need to face up to the fact that life is going through a big readjustment at the moment. Everyone’s already talking about the ‘new normal’, a phrase which is already, in the words my Grandma, driving me scranny. It’s already becoming overused and buzz-wordy, but like with most things, the reason for that is because it’s a useful term and describes what we all mean. But as I think about my ‘new normal’, the fact is for me, and for countless others I’m sure, there is something in my life that has changed fundamentally for me which means that my day to day routine isn’t going to be the same post Covid-19. For many, their routines will eventually be similar to what they were before, as they start working as they did before and other activities restart as they were before March. For lots of others, we will never return to the old routine, we will be carving out new ones for a multitude of differing reasons.
In my case, I’m not going back to my old job, and I’m not even going back to working somewhere else at all, and the facts of it are, work took up the largest single portion of my day, every weekday, so to lose this, my routine is going to be very different. Usually, the not knowing would terrify me. I would be panicking about getting a new job, or making semi-irrational decisions to try and make the best and most sensible moves during a time of uncertainty. But this time, I haven’t done that, partly because, and I know how lucky I am in this instance, I haven’t needed to, but partly because in the current situation it would be quite honestly fruitless. For once I am taking comfort, rightly or wrongly, in the fact that no-one really know’s what’s happening at the moment and the world is pretty upside down for everyone. That upside down feeling looks different for everybody, but no matter who you are, this virus has changed at least a small aspect of your life. But it’s that upside down that is allowing me to be a lot calmer than I normally would in an unknown situation.
I had very firm beliefs of what I thought adulthood would look like as a teenager. They were completely and utterly naive, but it took a long time for me to completely give up on those things. I’m a very black and white person. In my mind, there isn’t much space for grey areas, things are either going very well , or their going terribly. It’s a similar feeling I have when people don’t abide by clear instructions or rules, I’m very principled in that (or at least, I try to be) and I can’t understand when people try and bend things for their gain etc. My brain lives in a very yes or no world and the effects of that mean I can’t seem to find a happy balance and allow myself or something to be doing ok in the grey area, which is a problem it’s taken me a long time to overcome, but it’s finally starting to get there. In previous incidents of job losses or other equally momentous life upheavals, everyone else has been carrying on around me and therefore those feelings of failing have been compacted as I see everyone else continuing to do well. The rational part of my brain tries to reason with me, reminding me that actually, most people are winging it without a plan and they all have their own struggles, but quite honestly, the irrational ‘you’re doing shit at this’ part just screams louder than the rational one (rational one often has head in hands in despair, I think) and therefore those negative thoughts consume me. This time, I had no involvement in the job decisions made for me that led to my redundancy, there was no way I could turn this on myself this time as I’d actually been doing rather well at this job and enjoying it, it was an unfortunate circumstance, but it happened when everything is so out of the ordinary. This time everyone else around me is just sitting and waiting to see what happens next too, because it’s out of all of our hands, this time my brain has been calm and rational. This time I’ve not gone into a tailspin. I’ve been able to use the previous incidences to remind myself that things get back on track in good time and the period of strange unknowing to keep my thoughts in order and actually get on with setting up my business.
But now, it’s time to start thinking of the future. Tentatively, and with good risk management in terms me coming out of shielding, but the world is waking up and eventually I have to get back out there. The Government isn’t slowing down with it’s reopening of businesses and therefore I have good reason to believe shielding won’t be extended beyond the end of June. This means my Husband will have to go back to work and I will have to start getting back to living a life outside my house and the quiet nature spots again. I’m aware of the risks and the precautions I will need to take- I am lucky as the places I will need to visit first for food shopping etc, I will be able to choose to go to farm shops and other independent businesses which are generally quieter and my new working lifestyle means I can choose my times carefully to avoid busy times, but I’ll still have to get used to doing so again.
And as I think of these things, especially when I’ve been walking, I’ve been conscious about the parts of lockdown life that I want to stay when the world starts spinning as quickly as it did before. I wrote on Monday about the importance of the Lake and morning walks (read here), but it extends beyond that. Having two weeks at home with my husband, we’ve had the opportunity to go out for walks in our local area, most crucially even on days where I’ve been working. We’ve been discovering routes that are quick to get to, and have been able to leave the house sometimes within 15 minutes of me finishing work. It’s really meant a lot to me and I’m determined to keep hold of these opportunities in the future. I said before about my naive ideas of what adulthood looked like when I was a teenager, and having time for walks and time outside together, without it being as part of a planned holiday or day trip was certainly one of those things. I remembered that the other day and it made me realise that I need to continue this into our new routines and my Husband agrees it will be a positive change for the both of us. I’m under no illusions that life will always have this much free time in the future, but now we know we can leave the house just after 5 and be back by 7, on some days, we’ll be able to plan that in and actually do it.
I think, for the first time in almost 6 years, I’m now carving out a routine of what I want to be doing, instead of what I should be. Post-Uni, my Husband an excellent job offer and I didn’t, so it made sense for me to go with him since his offer was in London and if there was anywhere with jobs, it was London. This did mean though, that I was not necessarily going to get the job I wanted, more just ‘a job’ . Even that took a while and although I don’t regret any of the subsequent events, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, it would be a lie if I said that most of the next few choices were born out of a genuine passion for them. They were a series of calculated and sensible moves based largely on necessity and not based on what I really, truly wanted. As I say though, without those moves I wouldn’t have the skills or experience I need to be able to make the choices I am making now, but I am extremely glad that the ones I’m making now are the ones I want; I’m determined to not limit that to my career and working lifestyle choices going forwards. One of the biggest advantages of working for myself is the ability to make a work and personal life balance more to my taste and therefore I want to make the most of my personal time, filling it with what I want to do, as well as my work time.
I really am determined to use this opportunity for a new routine to take the bull by the horns and carve it into the way I want to be living. Everything from the food shopping choices I make to how we spend the evenings on walks instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. I’m excited, I’m ready and for once I’m not going to beat myself up if it isn’t the perfection I lead myself to believe it should be. I’m not so naive as to think that life will be perfect going forwards, there will be ups and downs, I will still have to do the boring bits as well as the bits I want to, the housework won’t do itself etc etc, but there is a determination in me to prioritise what I really want to, as I readjust to this post-Covid life.