Some people have really thrived during the lockdown. Their creativity, energy levels and entrepreneurship vibes have spiked, soared, and spread quicker than Rona itself. They are hustling and slaying goals. Being as efficient or even more efficient than pre-COVID. They are exercising more, baking more, writing more, joining in on every online nomination or challenge and just being the best versions of themselves. I, unfortunately (day job aside) have not felt the same surge of enthusiasm as these fellow South Africans. I feel emotionally drained, what used to flow out naturally and creatively now seems laboured and forced, sometimes I am a little depressed and disappointed for no particular reason. And mostly, I feel like I can just muster enough energy to pour myself something yum and plop in front of 90 Day Fiancé and silently judge but also celebrate with the couples during their crazy journeys on the show (this is after I slew at my job-job of course and during weekends).
Nonetheless, I know it’s absolutely okay for me to be going through this dip without condemnation, worry, or accepting the advice of some well-meaning individuals on what is working for them. I think it would be psychotic if I wasn’t mourning at this time. I had to say goodbye to Bounce Fit, my Disney World trip with the family, milestone birthdays with loved ones, my fitness goals, at stages my beautiful Folly horse and my beloved hairdresser (Mel), my kitchen (not COVID related but still traumatic As flopping Fudge), champagne, my waistline, spending time with my chomzazas and family, and billions of rands worth of data…and now even electricity at intervals. So, I guess I am allowed to feel like the poo emoji (“soft-serve” emoji to a few individuals) for the moment.
Now that I have set the scene…
All the poo emojis aside, I have learnt and relearnt some valuable lessons during the lockdown and thought I should share this with my fellow South Africans.
#1 You can still throw a killer party – always
I was in lockdown with my sister who turned 40. There were no restaurants open (fortunately they were open for takeaways at this stage). But no ways of having a party with all social distancing and lockdown rules. But we could still celebrate a party for two, in style and we did. So, I set up the decorations of our favourite movie series, downloaded a themed playlist, got a few decorations at Party Craze and RPG Collectibles, ordered a few balloons at Cosmo Balloons, had customised gowns made at Purple Turtle. I ordered delicious platters from Filos, dusted off my old projector from my lecturing days and ordered some fairy lights from Takealot. I finished the party with some DIY décor and a delicious cake from Lunaberry. And voila. The best party I attended (not only in lockdown) but beyond. And through all of this, we didn’t break a single lockdown restriction (level 4 nogals).
#2 Don’t renovate your kitchen during a pandemic
Once the economy started opening, we thought to do a solid for small businesses and renovate our kitchen. Ten weeks later, we are still only using a microwave to cook and our kitchen (all the stuff that we gathered over the years that we shoved into the kitchen) is all over our stoep and lounge. Having your house renovated during normal times is stressful but doing it during a pandemic is just too much. Imagine doing dishes in the bath for over ten weeks. Lesson learnt!
#3 Silence may be a cry for help
Lesson three – silence may be a cry for help. I’ve seen so many passive-aggressive posts on social media saying: “if you aren’t calling, texting or visiting me – you don’t care and you are out of my life” – blah, blah – poor-me-vibes. I’ve actually learnt in lockdown that when my friends are quiet, they actually need me the most. They are quiet because they literally don’t have the words or energy to reach out and check-in. They can’t even muster please pray for me or a hi. It’s not that they don’t care; they need you the most at this time. So, now when my friends go quiet or disappear, I know to check-in the most. Even if they take days or weeks to reply. I have learnt that our friendship is worth more than my ego and deserves more than petty, passive-aggressive posts on social media.
#4 You may actually not be sick
Is it “rona”? Is it flu? Is it a bladder infection? Nope, it is burnout. A lesson learnt during this “new normal” is that it’s easy to get exhausted. Work and personal life boundaries are more blurred than ever and with society putting so much pressure on everyone to “be more” or “do more” because you don’t have excuses… people are sooooooo bloody tired. Couple this physical fatigue with the emotional exhaustion that occurs when the world goes through a pandemic – it is no wonder everyone “feels” sick all the time. Lessons learnt – to be graceful with myself, keep people who are uber active during the lockdown or emotionally heavy at arm’s length and know, sometimes when you feel like you have Rona or a bladder infection, you may actually just be bone-tired and emotionally spent.
#5 Trust your instincts
Something I “relearnt” during lockdown is, trust your instincts. If something feels wrong with you, your child, your fur-kid, your family member or whatever – trust your instincts. Professionals, friends and family don’t always get it right and sometimes you need another opinion or to trust your gut.
For example, I mentioned in Signs that your cat may be sick that our kitten Oliver had been diagnosed with gastroenteritis. It got better after antibiotics, but he was just not 100 percent. To make a complicated story short – Oliver was eventually correctly diagnosed with megaoesophagus (this is a blog for another day). But if I hadn’t trusted my instincts and kept taking him back to the vet, the situation could have escalated and ended in tears.
So, whether you aren’t certain whether you should be dating that guy because you have an uneasy feeling, whether you should get that lump or mole checked out, whether you should drop in on that family member because you just know something is wrong, or whether you should evaluate a relationship/friendship – trust your gut, your female intuition, your heart, your head. Your instincts are usually pretty accurate.
#6 Find something that brings you joy
We are going through a collective ‘cactus’ time. We can be grateful, we can be thankful, we can be joyful during the trial – but let’s not be mistaken – we are going through incredible collective trauma. We are disappointed by corruption, we are heartbroken by job losses, we feel paralysed about all the hunger and death that surrounds us, and we are all suffering, drowning in and weighed down by loss. A lesson I learnt is finding and doing stuff to do that fills my bucket and brings me joy even in the valley of the shadow of death. Creating a bucket list of things, I will do in this year still (to give me hope). I eat an ice-cream every night. I am trying new things etc. But I’ve learnt I need to bring joy in some form into my life – no matter how shallow the joy may seem.
What are the lessons you have learnt? Are you doing well and thriving? Or are you also mourning a little?
On the bright side for introverts…
PS. This blog’s intro isn’t a cry for help or a call for advice. It’s not a ploy for sympathy or anything other than it is what it is. I’m just going through my feels and it’s healthier to process emotions than try to pretend that life is just perfect at the moment. So as much as I appreciate that veganism/meditation/exercise/a routine/ counting your blessings/ fresh air/ gluten-free diet etc. works for you, I am not looking for a solution. I have a solution. I am just sharing where I am at because I think more people feel the same way that I do but don’t want to talk about it.