While being on lockdown, I’ve reexamined my life and business, which led me to make more focused decisions. Here are 13 things I realized while being in lockdown.
1. Fomo is blah
Once you don’t feel the pressure to attend all the events that your city (especially New York, where I’m based) has to offer, you can finally settle down and be one-on-one with yourself. Suddenly, you realize what you can accomplish when you don’t need to peruse online and visit stores to get a new dress for a party and figure out how to make it to all five events on Friday night. The idea of trying to get everything at once now seems pretty elusive.
2. Your real friends vs. your imposed friends
While stuck in lockdown, I reconnected with my Russian friends, who I’ve rarely talked to since I moved to New York four years ago. Once borders didn’t make a difference in who we meet, and it’s become all about digital calls, we plunged into Zoom parties with people from around the world.
I love my friends here in the US—ambitious and adventurous—but my Russian friends have known me for 10 years and more, and accept me for who I am and not what I do. It was such a relief to have no shyness or anxiousness around them. I realized how much I missed them.
3. A home you enjoy
Some of my friends, myself included, moved to another neighborhood during quarantine. This sounds counterintuitive, considering the hustle with virtual apartment tours and the exhaustive moving process.
In my case, it was totally worth it. I used to live alone in Columbus Circle, an affluent neighborhood in Manhattan, which was fine before—the commute was convenient, and it was a great location for business meetings since Midtown is within walking distance and many business events happen in that area.
Yet, I felt lonely returning home in the evening or being on my own on the weekends. I couldn’t make friends in a year—most of my neighbors were over 60 and moved to Hamptons once the quarantine hit. Since I moved to my new hood, Williamsburg, I have been surrounded by friends and haven’t felt lonely since.
4. New goals and values
Once everything slowed down and I had time to reflect on myself, I decided it was a good time to see where I was going and set a few milestones for the future. That’s a bit counterintuitive again since we don’t really know when life will be back to “normal,” but it’s helpful to set a plan so that you can attend webinars, connect with the right people, and read books.
You might realize it’s a time for you to focus on your family, and that should be a priority for you. I personally started spending more time on my project, The Vivid Minds, which I put on backburner before. I was always looking for more available time (which never happens, but a time comes when we must switch priorities).
I’ve also heard people reconnecting with their families. I scheduled a weekly Zoom call with my mom, who lives in Moscow (we message every day on Telegram, and she likes my posts on Facebook and Instagram, but we rarely called before). Now, it’s become a habit.
5. Personal development
After you decide your goals, you know what to work on with your therapist or coach or you can read books or learn from other sources to achieve your goals faster. Many companies opened their courses for free during the quarantine. Since so much of it looks tempting, it can be hard to decide what to take. That’s why knowing your goal(s) is even more important—otherwise, you can just drown in all that endless content.
6. Home improvement and planting
I discovered beautiful websites about interior design. Once I started spending twenty-four hours a day at home, I quickly realized that I was missing lamps, chairs, a laptop stand, dumbbells, a pillow to work from my bed, and other necessities. In the two weeks of quarantine, my home transformed for the better.
Plant companies have seen a 300% boom in sales since the lockdown started in the US, according to the news. I bought three plants for my room to bring some greenery to my home, feel better, and have to take care of something living (since I live on my own and don’t have any pets). I even wanted to borrow a cat, thinking that they don’t suffer from the housekeeper exchange as dogs do, but was told that cats get stressed out when they are brought into other spaces.
7. Healthy eating
I started cooking what I enjoy for myself, which is much healthier than what I buy or order from restaurants, for the most part. For the first two weeks in quarantine, I was scared to order food delivery. That fear has passed, but I still maintain some of my healthier eating habits, like eating apples and soups rather than burgers and chocolate bars.
8. Sports is fun
I’ve always disliked sports; I didn’t like the image of myself playing sports, and sports outfit never looked beautiful and cool (they’re not elegant). Yet, there I was, ordering my first lululemon sweat shorts and going out to workout in McCarren Park every day (thanks, Williamsburg, and my sports buddy, Julia). Even if I get off the track at some point, I now feel that sport can be fun, and that’s because of quarantine.
9. Focus and meditation
I also learned to focus because there is no office to go to or people around you to push you. I personally found meditation and creating a list of tasks for the next two hours helpful (I change my to-do list every two next hours). But I’ve been working on my own for the last three years, so not much changed for me. All you can do is try different techniques and see how they work for you.
10. Getting rid of the waste
I’ve heard about people who have been rearranging and cleaning out their wardrobes. Some haven’t been able to get rid of stuff for years, and hallelujah—quarantine made them do it. You can also rethink your consumption habits and if you actually need everything you have. This is especially useful when you are moving to another hood as I did and packing all the stuff you wished you had half the amount of stuff.
11. Baking and cooking
I recently read a cool article about how flour has become America’s main obsession during quarantine and how the King Arthur Flour company saw a 600% increase in grocery store sales almost overnight. I actually haven’t baked (besides ziti pasta and salmon, but that’s more cooking), but this sounds like a good creative expression. I’ve explored many new recipes, such as banana variations of syrniki and a watermelon/arugula salad.
If you complained about having too much to read before quarantine, it was nothing compared to now. Business Insider published over 13,000 pieces a week just on quarantine. Other media outlets increased the amount of published content, even though most had to lay off staff. User-generated content also increased more than ever. I personally turned to Medium and realized how huge the site is and started writing there too. Writing really helped me to stay sane during this craziness, and even if it’s not writing to be published, just journaling for yourself is a good idea to express your creative urge.
13. Getting stronger
As we found ourselves in unprecedented times, we all had to sacrifice something, one way or another. Once you go through a struggle, you become more experienced and stronger. Think about a few things that you are not afraid of anymore, that you had been before the lockdown started. For me, the most important fear I had was of being alone, without being around someone or totally dissolved into work. I was scared of my thoughts, but now I feel that I have tamed them and systemized them in some way, which I’m grateful for.