When this whole thing started in mid-March, I don’t think I realized quite how long it would last. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know. My last day in the office was memorable, because as I’ve mentioned here before, I chipped my tooth and had to leave early. I didn’t grab nearly as much from my desk that day as I wish I had—March 11, 72 days ago for those of you keeping track at home—and I remember telling my coworkers I’d see them in April. Now it’s guaranteed I won’t see them in person until at least September 7, and if I was a betting person, I’d gamble we probably won’t be back in the office this year. (Some may say that’s crazy, but at this point, I’d rather expect the worst than to be disappointed again.) The last time I went to Soul Cycle, ate at a restaurant, and went out to bars happened a few days after my last day in the office—March 14, 69 days ago—and I had a little guilt about being out since you could definitely tell the tide was turning. But you know what they say about hindsight—20/20.
In the 70-something days since we departed from normal, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life, and what I want it to look like moving forward once we get through this. I’ve lived alone for almost three years, but living alone takes on a whole different meaning in the quarantine. Back in the good old days before Coronavirus and social distancing were part of our daily lexicon, I was out in the world for most of the day—I’d leave my apartment around 8am and usually not return until 8pm, often later. I had social interactions and obligations all day, and coming home was often a highlight of my day because I got a few hours to myself. (I’m an extrovert, but always need a little bit of what my college roommates branded “Katie time.”) I never really missed having a roommate. Nowadays, I spend most of my waking hours solo, here within these four walls, with my main social interaction via Zoom or trying to smile at strangers at restaurant pickup queues with my mask on.
It’s a rainy, rainy day here in DC—and I was lucky enough to get the day off work for an extra long weekend, so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts from the quarantine here today. One thing I want to stress is that while taking precautions to not get physically sick is important, caring for our mental health, at all times but now especially, is so important. Being alone can be so isolating, and it’s not weak to ask for help when you need it!
01. SHOULD I GET A CRICUT?
If you’ve been reading here for the past few months, you know that TikTok videos have been a highlight of the quarantine for me. If y’all think the Instagram algorithm does the most, you haven’t spent time on TikTok—it is scarily good at figuring out what videos you like, and then showing you more of that type of content. About 15% of the content you see on your feed is content they’re testing to see if you’ll like (we had a TikTok employee present to our team at work recently, and I thought that stat was so interesting!), so recently, I was served some ads of people making crafts on their Cricut—think stickers, custom tote bags for bachelorette parties, t-shirts, you name it.
I was mesmerized, and clearly TikTok figured it out because now I see Cricut videos all the time. Of course I got down the rabbit hole on the Cricut website and started to think, “Should I buy one and start an Etsy shop again?” (I had a stationery Etsy shop for a while!)
I’m still on the fence, and likely won’t pull the trigger because I think it’d likely collect dust once we’re allowed to resume normal life, but it did get me thinking a lot. I don’t know about you guys, but during this time, I seem to really be craving something to do that’s not on a screen—I think it’s why I started the cross-stick my best friend gave me for Christmas and why I bought an adult coloring book for the first time in my life. I also think I’ve really been craving something with a tangible outcome that I can see and feel, that also provides a creative outlet.
02. ON NOT WISHING MY LIFE AWAY
When the quarantine first started, I really fell trap to a narrative that sounded like this, “when this is all over…,” “when we can travel again…,” “when we can eat at restaurants again…,” Don’t get me wrong; I still am looking forward to the day when all of this is behind us—but in the interim, I really want to be careful about not wishing my life away.
While I’m in the camp I think it’s time to start a phased reopening in a smart and safe way, the reality is, even once that happens, we will have to live with some repercussions of COVID-19 until there’s a vaccine, which at this point, could be many months, if not years, away still. I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I wasted multiple years just waiting until things returned to normal.
So instead, I’m really trying to embrace the things about this time that I do like—things like being able to wake up just a few minutes before my first call of the day and not having a commute. Things like taking long, long walks around my neighborhood and enjoying the beauty of both the nature and the architecture. Things like slowing down, truly slowing down, for the first time in years and enjoying the simpler things in life.
When all of this is behind us, I also hope I don’t take the things I love to do for granted anymore—every trip to an airport or to dinner at my favorite wine bar or even just an average Tuesday at the office will be so much more appreciated by me.
And heck, when this is over, I am sure there are even things I’ll miss about these crazy, unprecedented times. (Would it be a post about quarantine without use of the word unprecedented?)
03. WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
One thing I’m actually so grateful for about quarantine is that it has given me a ton of time alone with my thoughts. It’s given me a lot of time to think about all aspects of my life—my career, where I want to live, limiting beliefs I have about myself, my health and wellness, my relationships with friends and family. And I have had a lot of realizations that I don’t know if I would have had if life had gone on like it had been.
While many of these realizations are personal so I’m going to keep them to myself, I think the biggest takeaway I’ve had is I actually am really craving a slower, simpler life. While I always want to be a hard worker, moving forward, I always want to keep taking the time to go on long walks, savoring things like fresh squeezed lemonade, and spending a day lazily reading a book or watching a TV show and not feeling guilty about it. Basically, I really just want to enjoy the little things more and not take my life so seriously. COVID-19 has been a huge reminder that nothing about the future is promised and could change on a dime, so instead of worrying so much about tomorrow, I should just spend my time living today.
At this point in time, I have no desire to move out of the DC area away from my family, friends, and job, but as I mentioned in this post, I have been thinking about moving back to Arlington because I think it could help me get closer to this slower pace of life I’m craving, with a little more space to work from home, host wine nights, and actually eat from a dining room table again.
I hope you all make the best of this unique Memorial Day Weekend, and stay safe out there! I am grateful for all the men and women who died defending our freedom, and my heart goes out to their families who are missing them dearly today and everyday.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
— John 15:13