It’s been well-documented that journaling is a helpful tactic for improving mental health. It allows you to get thoughts out of your head and down on paper, can provide a chance to make your intentions concrete, and at the very least, it gives you 5-10 minutes away from electronics!
It wasn’t until I heard a podcast last week where the guest recommended journaling during this time in order to look back on it in the future. His hypothesis was that we won’t remember exactly how we felt during this global pandemic. Even if the Covid crisis lasts another 6 months and totals 1 year, that’s really just a blip on the radar of life. Do you really remember how you felt (good or bad) in, say, 2007?
Whether I’ll want to look back to draw from experiences, or simply as a good reminder or story to tell my grandkids or nephew, I think I’d like to have this moment documented. Since I’m living that minimalist life without a proper concrete journal, I guess I’ll use my blog for this forum. End intro.
The first word that comes to mind to describe my emotions in reaction to spending six months in the (former) epicenter of this disease is frustration.
I’m frustrated that Covid has disrupted the life I tried really hard to design. And that disruption has (at least how I perceive it) disproportionately affected the positive things in my life rather than the negative. It stripped away travel, team gatherings and team dinners from a job I genuinely enjoyed, partially because of those activities. I’m frustrated because I can no longer just jump on a flight and head home for a weekend, or even a week, without quarantining for two weeks. And I’m frustrated that I’m living in the best city in the world but for the past six months I haven’t been able to entertain anyone or play host/tour guide to my friends and family from back home. Finally, I’m frustrated that there seems to be very little communication provided regarding when the border may be back open and when a two week quarantine would no longer be required for a trip to Canada.
Word number two: Reflective.
Rather than be all doom and gloom, this one has some positive and negative effects during isolation. Because of the drastic change to my work life where most of the fun has been stripped away and I’m left with long, stressful hours working alone in my apartment, it’s provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my work. What type of work gets me excited, for what types of organizations, and with what types of people. If the new normal is going to be working from home, then it’s even more important to really enjoy the actual detailed work you’re doing on a daily basis, since all of those other aspects of a job (potentially distractions if I’m being honest) are no longer present.
Reflection has also brought some of those old, classic questions out from under the rug, and the fact that six months has just flown by in this new state has me pretty concerned. Why are you living away from your parents? Your sister? Your nephew? Your Grannie? It’s not like the job I have is ONLY available in NYC, so why am I paying high rent to live away from loved ones and work from a tiny apartment?
Final word: Optimistic
This pandemic has allowed me to slow down life a little bit and consider what’s really important. For the first year on the job in NYC, I thrived off the fast-paced lifestyle. If something deep down was bothering me, I would be jumping on a plane every 4 days with a new city to explore, new work goals, new hotels and new meals and wouldn’t have time to really address important thoughts or ask tough questions. I used to freak out if I had a weekend coming up without major plans, now I invite open weekends and view them as a chance to relax and recharge.
I’m optimistic that I’m going to come out the other side of this pandemic way more in touch with myself, many of my friends (thanks to zoom calls), and even my family as we now talk almost every day. I’m optimistic that I can continue to shape my career around work I want to be doing. I’m optimistic that I can continue improving my health since I’ve been more consistent with running during Covid than during any other time in my life. And I’m optimistic that I won’t take any time for granted with people I care about - who knows when you’ll be able to see them again.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. let me know if you end up journaling about your pandemic experiences