To say that 2020 was a hectic and insane year is a massive understatement. A pandemic, social unrest and political turmoil made the year exhausting, scary, uncertain and with many many days spent inside. There are lots of things I’ve learned about myself and others and the world as we approach the anniversary of when this whole thing kicked up in the U.S. and we assumed this should be done and finished in no more than a few weeks. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, things I’ve come to appreciate and hardship I’ve been through this year.
Don’t Be a Dick
I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever ordered so many things to be delivered to my door. I finally get to live my dream of being like the Onceler in The Lorax and just order in all the time and never again be held down by the tyranny of pants or a bra. But with this newfound freedom I’ve found that people on the outside, unfortunately, are still terrible. There have been a few instances where orders have been wrong or items have not arrived on time and each time, thanks especially to the barrier to technology, I’ve been able to just stay chill. I used to work retail and I’ve learned that being cruel to front-end workers is never the way to get anything done. And honestly, not being a dick has carried over into my personal life as well. When my friends seem to need more time to vent or are acting in a way that seems unlike them I am quicker to be more understanding. These are insane times for everyone and it’s important to be mindful of that. You never know what someone is going through: best to air on the side of caution and exchange the grace you may need yourself later on.
Indulge, The World is on Fire
I woke up with a desire for sweet and sour chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city: and thus I ordered it. I’ve been more mindful of my budget but the benefit of not being able to go out shopping all weekend if a more balanced budget and more wiggle room for indulgences. Now, I admit the amount of privilege I have; however it is nice to be able to splurge every once in a while. The world is on fire. There’s a pandemic outside, white supremacists, people who don’t think the pandemic is real and racism, sexism and homophobia all still exist: even when you haven’t left the house.
Routine Can Be a Comfort
The times I can think of that I really struggled during the pandemic was my brief stint of unemployment when I had no solid routine. I applied to jobs, laid on the sofa all day, napped like a spoiled house cat and rarely ate anything of substance. The structure of having to clock in for work even if it’s from home and having to take medicine and then getting off of work to have an evening up to my own devices was incredibly important for me to survive the days that all rolled together and continue to do so during the pandemic. It’s hard for me to compel myself to a rhythm sometimes, thanks to years of depression and anxiety, and it’s much easier for me to have a structure set in place for me and then I figure out how to make it my own and bend it to my will.
It’s an easy thing to do when depressed: close yourself off, ignore humanity, coil into yourself and shun those who care about you. Luckily for me, I have a very insistent friend and family group that refuses to let me climb into the little box of sadness for too long. If a few days pass without contact, someone certainly is messaging me or calling me to make sure that I am still amongst the living and have not fallen into a puddle of self-loathing. And if my friends or family are for some reason busy, I’m fortunate enough to know myself right before I fall off that edge of misery and know when to reach out and say that I’m struggling and need a lifeline. No one has to go through this alone and really, no one should: you are worthy of help if you need it.
It’s Okay to Not be Okay
How anyone manages to leave the bed without some resistance nowadays is a genuine surprise to me. I often lay there begging the clock to go back, let me rest and try to fill a fatigue that is never relieved. But I still get up but the feeling I have is something in between just existing and being just sort of a grey color. Malaise, I think is what the French would call it. I’m fine but only just so and there are plenty of reasons inside and out that would add to a feeling of not being anything more than “existing” or “alive”. The world is a scary place and even though I think I don’t internalize the anxieties and atrocities of the modern world, I do. I hold onto them and they root deep in me and come up as fear usually right before I try to sleep or in the moments my brain is quiet. But what’s amazing is to talk to my other friends and know they have similar fears: we’re all scared. We’re all aware the future is uncertain and the present is strange and nebulous. I was not and am not alone in being less than peachy and that was remarkably comforting. It’s okay to not be okay within reason; really, is anyone right now?
I’ve spent a year indoors and the last 3 months even more isolated, rarely leaving the house due to either illness or injury. I’ve spent a year rarely seeing friends and rarely seeing family. I’ve been closed off from the things I love doing and I’ve had to find strength in myself and trust in those who want to help me. It’s been interesting: finding small ways to return to normalcy, the little indulgences I’ll allow myself, the small breaks I take when I finally leave the house and for what reason. I’ve done a lot of baking, a lot of podcasting, a lot of writing and talking to my friends but I’ve mostly spent time with myself trying to work through many of the bags I’ve been carrying with me for the past 10 or so years. What else should I do with this vast expanse of introspective time?
Thank you all for being with me during this year: you’ve all made it a little easier to face the future.