At the beginning of this weird time of enforced change I posted a blog about the potential silver linings that may arise due to isolation/lockdown. A number of weeks on I thought it would be interesting to ponder what I’ve learned about myself during this period. After reading, I encourage you to reflect too. Are you surprised or lifted by what you’ve noticed about yourself? Do tell me your realisations in the comments.
I’m Rule Abiding
Call me a goody two-shoes. Teacher’s Pet. Whatever you like. Because it’s all true. I really do want to stick to the rules. There’s been some times during lockdown where people have asked me to do certain things that require loosening of the rules and at no point have I been tempted – all it’s done is take me back to that awkward feeling I felt at school when the naughty kids I was friends with would try peer pressure me to do something. I’ve worked out it’s not even about the fear of getting caught or fined, it’s about an innate need to do the right and fair thing. I’ve worked out that I’ve really cherished the unifying nature of this and truly want to honour that ‘we are all in this together’. I have felt genuinely betrayed when I’ve seen people flout the rules and it’s taken all I have to stop myself from sending a judgey or passive agressive message. I’ve tried to assume that I’ve got it wrong or that there’s a valid reason in an attempt to minimise the inner rage – and try to avoid being an absolute ‘Karen’ – but I can’t lie, I’ve found it incredibly difficult. I don’t want to be one of those people that gets a measuring stick out and goes ‘see, I knew you weren’t sitting 2 metres apart’, I mean who likes that guy, but…… I think this stickler behaviour is in part because I’ve known people who have always thought that they exempt from the rules, that possess an arrogance that means they think things don’t apply to them, and it grates on me like nothing else. I guess because it goes against everything my parents taught me, and in a situation as extreme as this my displeasure is elevated to the extreme. My ‘to the letter’ approach has caused many embarrassing moments for Si on our daily hourly exercise trips. He thinks I’m ridiculous when I suddenly dive deep in a bush when someone walks towards us, but I genuinely can’t help it!
I’m okay with the simple things
This observation might be one I’ve been able to make because I have a comparison living with me that powerfully highlights my opposite behaviour. But I’ve realised I’m quite good at adapting to the rationing and simplification of daily life. My partner is a foodie and it’s always been of huge importance to have meals made with a gazillion different or exotic ingredients ( I’ve languished in the benefits of this of course). During this time he’s hesitated to temper his shopping or cooking habits. I’ll be saying ‘we don’t need that’ or suggest we have ‘insert repeat meal’ tonight, or shock/horror suggest a very in his words ‘basic’ meal. I think when it was the stockpiling phase of the pandemic, when we didn’t know what we would and wouldn’t be able to access food wise, I mentally prepared for that war-time approach to the produce we’d have in the house, and accepted that we might have to have a lot of beans on toast, soup and so on. As someone that really enjoys food, I have been surprised at how quick I was the accept this potential new way of getting my daily calories. But considering the sacrifices some people were facing it just didn’t feel like a big deal. Although it would have been interesting to see how ‘adaptable’ I was a few weeks in, if my diet had been more restrictive.
One of the seven deadly sins….
I don’t have any of the most highlighted addictions. I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs and I only drink occasionally. But these extended times at home have amplified the fact that when I love something, I can (and do ) consume a LOT of it. There’s a few things in my life that I’ve always enjoyed more than the recommended level, but the last few weeks I’ve probably added another dose on top of that. The main ones for me are a can of Coca Cola (I have 1-2 a day now, sorry dentist I haven’t seen in a year) pasta, and biscuits. While I can be very measured and sensible with the food shop, in terms of what I choose to buy, and I’m quite good at trying to make them last during lockdown, with these few particular things I have no restraint in terms of portion size or the amount of times I find myself drawn to the kitchen to grab another. I’m not about segregating things into ‘treat’ category, I don’t like the guilt that can be put on to people who quite rightly want to enjoy their food (any food), but I have to be honest with myself admit some of my habits have moved into gluttony. I guess the question I need to ask is why? Maybe it’s just because they taste great, but maybe it’s not.
My parents are the best
I’ve always known I’ve lucked out when it comes to my parents. But I think due to that good ol’ absence makes the heart grow fonder’ phenomenon I feel it more than ever now. It’s been a year since I moved out of the family home, and while I’ve loved creating my new bubble in my first flat, I now find myself wanting to head back to where I lived for most of my life to soak up as much family time as possible. My parents and I have been texting and Whatsapping more than ever, sharing our gardening and DIY success/fails as well the walking route of that days exercise excursion, and despite the lack of in person contact I feel more connected with them than ever. I wonder if their ‘vulnerable’ status during this Pandemic has served to highlight how lucky I am to still have both of them.
I need to feel helpful
I’ve never been one of those people in charge of a friendship groups social calendar. Even as a bridesmaid I’ve never been at the helm of the organising side of things – it’s just not where I flourish, plus there’s always someone else that revels in all of that who takes it on with glee. But during all this, something where our personal contribution can have very grave or lifechanging consequences, I’ve felt a real gear shift. Don’t get me wrong, I hope I’ve always been a helpful kind of gal – as a Brownie and Girl Guide it became an early age mantra – but the need to be useful has really been amplified in recent months. I would have liked to have done more than I have, but I have been doing some shopping for my vulnerable neighbour downstairs as well as my parents, and that’s made me feel a bit better about not being able to do something as heroic as the NHS doctors and all the other amazing key workers. I guess it’s like any environment or scenario we all want to have a role and a purpose. We all want to feel like our existence makes a difference.
Seeing lots of people on Twitter despair at the boredom they’ve felt during this time has drawn attention to the fact that I’m different in that I’ve not been bored (except for when I’ve been forced to watch a very predictable low grade horror movie). I understand I come from a place of privilege in that I have a human and a cat living in the flat with me, have a job I can do from home, and I am subscribed to multiple streaming services and have wifi and electricity to run them, but I know many people in my position who have still struggled. I don’t know if this means that I’m a simple girl who is easily pleased, but whatever, I’m thankful that alongside many conflicting feelings and emotions I HAVE felt during this time, this isn’t another one. I guess it helps that I am a film/TV nut so there’s always something new to get stuck into. Because my mind is less muddy I also feel more inspired to work too, and as I’ve always done the majority of my work at home the lockdown status does nothing to deter me. Maybe it has to do with the realisation I’ve have had in the last few years that busy city life just isn’t for me and that a quieter life helps me maintain good mental health. Rather than seeing boredom, I see sanctuary and safety.
I’m Maternal After all
One of my first jobs was doing kids parties at the local leisure centre. I would run trampoline, games, and bouncy castle parties which would climax with a chicken nugget dinner and me having to bring a cake out of the kitchen singing Happy Birthday at full voice. The kids would gravitate towards me because I’d let them jump on my head, contort my face to look like a very grotesque monster, and not care about how ridiculous I looked/acted to be whilst in the spirit of the given game. My next job was working at a baby clothes shop so I’d be have to be silly or nurturing while entertaining the kids while the mums browsed the rails. Then of course I ticked off the teenage girl right of passage of being a babysitter ( till some of the mums took the piss and would come home very late the next morning leaving me with 3 kids, one in nappies, to look after all night.
I think people presumed I’d be a young mum, that I’d raring to have kids, but life didn’t pan out that way for various reasons. Despite always thinking I wanted kids (or presuming it’d just happen) I’ve never really felt the click of that biological clock, or that yearning I presumed I would. This has made me wonder if perhaps I wasn’t maternal after all. Maybe the reason I did well in those jobs was purely because I’m a big kid and not because it’s my life calling. Since lockdown, and since adopting Bluebell, I feel like the motherly side of my personality has come to the forefront. I seem to have acquired this sixth sense for potential danger and hazard – I’m very aware of sharp objects, open windows, hot straighteners where Si is completely oblivious. Every day I’ve been getting up at 4am to tend to Blubell even when I’m absolutely exhausted. I’ve mopped up sick and poop, and you know what? I don’t even mind. Don’t get me wrong I sometimes feel irked that its me doing it again, but I genuinely enjoy looking after her. I guess I’m surprised that I’ve reached that point where I’m completely content with putting a little life before my own. Si has noticed it too and has commented that my general behaviour round the home is more like a mother hen than chaotic student it had been for many years.
The other day he also said I look like a mum, but we won’t talk about that as I’m pretty sure it was meant in a derogatory way.
I’m not in my ‘prime’ and that’s okay with me
I’m think I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, although I don’t have scales so can’t confirm that, the mirrors are telling me that fact. Although I want to add that putting on weight shouldn’t be perceived as a negative thing – I actually think I’m better for it. My hair no longer has a style, it exists as food for cows to feast on. I never have ‘done’ nails anyway, but they’re probably in a worse state than ever due to an increase in time to do DIY and gardening projects. But none of this has bothered me or impacted my confidence. Of course it may be because I’m not having to go out in social situations so I don’t have as many instances where I may fear judgement, but I think it’s actually because my emphasis has changed in the last few years, enhanced more-so by the reality check the COVID situation has given me.
I’ve only bought one item of clothing during the whole lockdown period, again potentially a sign of the shift in what’s important to me. Would having my hair done give me a boost, hell yeah! Would I post a selfie of my improved do – course I would. But it really does feel a bit more insignificant to me these days. But we’re all different. I know for some these things really link to mental health, and routine really helps in terms of managing anxiety, so no one should be judged if they are struggling without access to their normal beauty services/habits.
Perhaps I’m just more content in myself…. so maybe I’m in my prime after all.
I think I have often romanticised the idea of Si and I being freelancers working from home. I’d look at powerhouse blogging couples like IntheFrow and her husband Alex (who films/photographs) and think what a dream set up that is. How lovely to be able to work with the person you love the most, I thought – steal a few kisses between takes and all that cutesy stuff. But lockdown has gifted me with a glimpse in to what that might be like and I now realise it’s not for us. Si hasn’t helped me with a video for years actually. I self film them all because it used to be some a fraught and stressful experience it took out any of the joy of creating content whenever he helped. I also came to love that when someone would say they love a video/photo I can completely own that compliment, and it can serve as much needed motivation to keep going, despite the fact that being a one woman band makes everything take hours longer to set up and produce.
However, despite knowing that Si becomes the photographer version of Simon Cowell ( during the harsh years) I did still love the idea of Si being able to carve a career that would allow him to be at home with me while I worked on my stuff. After years of trying to get to the point of being able to have our own place I had an idealistic view of us both working together in the office, singing along to a playlist while we typed, breaking for lunch together etc. The reality is that while in many ways its’ been lovely that Si isn’t doing his usual 12 hours in the office, and his early starts feel less nightmarish when it just involves him slomping out of bed and crawling to his computer 3 metres away, I’m missing having those hours in the day to myself. I’ve realised how much I cherish having the flat to myself during the day, to potter and get on with my work without distraction and interference. I can make a mess – which is often the case when creating a set up for a photo or video – and know that he’ll never be stressed by it as it’ll be Hinch-home tidy by the time he gets home. That said there have been some lovely moments while we’ve been in this shared working space, so it would be wonderful if he could maybe work from home a couple days a week after all this is over. I just know that I need that separation, space and quiet not only for my work productivity but to soothe my introvert tendencies.
I’m more positive than I think
I think some because I often speak about the wrongs of the world people often assume I’m more negative than positive. But this period of time has really confirmed that I really am capable of making the best of difficult times, and more than equipped to uncover those silver linings and glimmers of hope.
While I’m suitably concerned for the industry and sad on the impact on my own ability to earn this summer, I’ve not responded to the lack of music events in the obvious way. I thought I’d feel gutted by the lack of festivals but I’ve actually seen it as a huge opportunity to enjoy summer in a different way. There might not be another time in our lives to an experience a summer where festivals, options and choice have been taken off the agenda. I feel like it’ll either make us appreciate these events more, meaning we will relish them so much more when they’re back, or alternatively show us how wonderful different/new ways of doing summer can be – neither a bad thing.
I feel like so many of my friends have been pushed in to doing things they could/should have done ages ago with great results. How many talented musicians, DJ’s, speakers, comedians, actors are now doing projects they could have always done remotely because the indefinite nature of all this has given them that vital nudge to finally do it. How many of us feel closer to our neighbours and community? Before I digress – this isn’t a post about the positives (I’ve done that one already) this about my surprise ability to recognise them and allow them to buoy me during this weird time.
I feel like my heavily diluted social/working life has created more space in my usually overcrowded head. It just feels so much less chocka block which I think has made room to be able to find reason and choose that positive fork in the road when analysing my thoughts.
Usually my mind feels full to the brim and without any breathing space it looks for ease as it analyses and dissects, tending to go down the route more travelled – one of doom and catastrophe. With some space freed up it finds itself with drive and time to seek out solutions and those silver linings.
When things get back up and running and I start to get lured back into a busier lifestyle I must remind myself of the benefits I experienced and how having less things on allowed me to live more positively. I was never negative, the way I was choosing to live was making it feel that way.
I really didn’t need another reason not to shower regularly…