Unprecedented Times: COVID-19 blog
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, Stoke North and Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau
Like most people during lockdown, I’ve had my ups and downs. In February 2020 BL (Before Lockdown) I had just celebrated my 50th birthday with family and friends and was looking forward to a Summer of sport and holidays in Croatia and possibly the US. But, to quote Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley”.
I love a routine and to keep busy, I love having a sense of purpose. I love my independence and having things to look forward to. I love being around people, and lockdown has robbed me of much of this.
For the week or so it was ok, it was a novelty. I weeded the garden, cleaned my cupboards and de-cluttered. But I hate gardening and detest cleaning and so as the days stretched into weeks the novelty soon wore off.
After a couple of weeks however, I began to struggle. I was in limbo because, although I had not been furloughed, there was only a trickle of work coming through. Rationally, I understood and agreed with the lockdown, but emotionally my inner child was rebelling against the restrictions. In those early weeks, the bad news seemed unremitting and there seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. I struggled with motivation and a sense of purpose, and I was bemoaning the absence of my big passion in life, sport.
My old routine of office banter, gym, choir, meeting up with friends and watching sport had all gone, to be replaced by that ‘week after Christmas feeling’ of not knowing what day of the week it is.
I then heard something on the radio about the importance of trying to maintain a routine even in these unprecedented times, and so little by little I built a new routine around what limited work I had. I made a commitment to myself that I was not going to fritter away the time but instead was going to use this time for self-development. Instead of seeing all this time as a curse I would see it as a blessing. So, I used the time to do some professional development via reading and online courses, but also rediscovered my love of personal development by reading two books by Mark Manson.
Mark has a rather robust but refreshing style of writing, he explains about reserving our energy for the most important things and the inevitably of pain in our lives. He rails against the modern search for untold happiness and super stardom and instead advises us how to be more resilient and virtuous and enjoy the simple things in life. In particular, it helped me to confront my own fear of rejection and avoidance of vulnerability.
A couple of months in and I felt like I was beyond the curve. I was beginning to enjoy this new freedom and finding new ways of keeping in contact with people. The real turnaround was a few weeks ago, when the lockdown was first eased and I was able to have a game of tennis with friends in the sunshine.
So, while life still feels like I’m recovering from a lengthy convalescence, I’m starting to walk again and the world is opening up. It’s a time for reflection. I feel guilty that I have been untouched while others have sacrificed so much. I realise that I have so much to be thankful for and that my friends and family are so important to me. From now on I’m only going to concern myself with the important stuff.