Normally the content for my blog posts flows naturally and the part of my story I feel ready to share pours out on the page. But funnily enough during lockdown I haven’t felt the urge to write. I have been struggling to come up with an answer as to why.
Maybe its because in the early days of lockdown there was so much information coming our way I was just trying to keep up with news flow, the status of this unknown disease and adjusting to the new normal. But on the other hand it really allowed me to connect with what I truly value in my life and what I might have previously been doing to fill the gaps.
I have always known I am a homebody. I like entertaining at home, having people over or just relaxing on the sofa with a good movie. For a long time I berated myself for that. That there was this whole world out there I had been kept from during my recovery from my accident, so I shouldn’t miss a minute of it now I was better. I never really made plans because I never knew from one day to the next how I would wake up feeling, physically or mentally. Some days are harder then others and I didn’t want to let people down who I had made a plan with. So I keep things spontaneous and free so if I didn’t feel like doing something I didn’t have to. But this guilt was a cloud over me, this constant feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, seeing enough, experiencing enough. And to be honest it was exhausting. And so during lockdown, when everyone was unable to do anything, I felt strangely liberated. There was no pressure because there was nothing to do. Everyone is in the same boat.
So I started to think more deeply about this. And what it means for me. Primarily I think it will change my sense of what is important to me. Putting myself and my needs first. And if I want to stay home in my pyjamas that it is nobody’s business but mine. If I feel like being a hermit I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for that. I had to remind myself that I learnt self-reliance a long time ago. It was often the only thing that would get me through some really tough times. I am enough.
Modern society makes us doubt this. Social media is in our faces with fake ideals of what ‘living your best life’ means. But it shouldn’t be defined by anyone else’s standards. It should be about looking inward and deciding does this add value to me? It might sound selfish but if every choice you make adds something to your life isn’t it going to mean a more fulfilling, happier person to be around?
I am not talking about giving up everything and going to live on a dessert island. Or living with reckless abandonment. These decisions can be small but impactful and true to yourself.
It took me a long time to be able to admit my limitations. If friends were going on a hike I would make an excuse because I knew my body wouldn’t be able to keep up. I could have been open and honest about it as no one would have judged me. But I was judging myself. Berating my body for being inadequate. In some ways it was easier to justify because it was something out of my control. I simply couldn’t do it. But what about the things I didn’t WANT to do. The things I did because that was what was expected of me.
I think introverts struggle with this the most. That somehow being an extrovert is better. So there is the constant anxiety that being introverted will mean you won’t get heard. That the loudest voice will always dominate. But there is quiet strength to an introvert. In psychology terms, an introvert isn’t necessarily shy, which I think is the greatest misconception. We are more concerned with our own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. Whereas an extrovert tends to be concerned with external things or “objective considerations”.
I don’t think there should be a “right” way to be and I hope that whatever lockdown has taught you about yourself, you remember that as we move forward out of this phase. Or maybe we have the opportunity to create a “new normal”, defined by our own sense of what is important.
I had planned a different way to end this post, but in the last couple of days I have been reminded of the fragility of life and the need to cherish each and every moment. There have been many days in my life where I didn’t know what was coming next and I didn’t have the answers as to why these things were happening to me. And I know there will be many people out there feeling the same way. COVID has been brutal and unfair, especially to those affected by it directly or indirectly. And I wish I could say that I had the answer to the question of Why? I have tortured myself with that question time and time again. But I can say this. There have been moments where I wondered if the why had been answered. I may never know, but if the beautiful moments that have been coming my way are somehow related to the suffering then I will take that and keep it with me. The most powerful thing is to try to turn something negative into something positive even if it feels unjust and unfair. Everything that has happened to me has taught me something, I just had to listen. Whatever you believe in – god, the universe, fate, destiny – tune into the message and maybe it will have some of the answers.
“ Do not pursue the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. The past no longer is. The future has not yet come. Look deeply at life as it is” – Buddhist Proverb