Let me preface this by admitting that I was one of the “lucky ones” who went into the first lockdown feeling positive and hopeful. I was ready to crush everything: working from home, working out, staying safe, and protecting those around me.
Fast forward to lockdown no. 3, and you find me on the sofa, watching How I Met Your Mother for the sixth time, with a spoon deep into my second tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
I know I’m not alone on this rollercoaster ride of a pandemic. Let me try to explore my own ups and downs in an effort to help those who’ve felt the same struggle.
The Unprecedented Up
What I’ve learned about lockdowns and pandemics is that there is no right way to handle them. When some of us were into becoming the best versions of ourselves, others were feeling particularly low. Hence all the “you don’t have to bake banana bread if you don’t feel like it” posts.
However, if you are feeling energized, positive and motivated – by all means, use that drive to get a step closer to your goals and achieve something amazing.
The only trick lies in not expecting it to last.
The Unexpected Down
Slowing down, spending more (i.e., all) of my time alone, and having more time for myself has certainly done wonders for my mental health back in March 2020. My main mistake was not letting myself embrace anything negative.
When our usual modus operandi – and potentially our entire way of life – is threatened, not giving in to the fear can seem like the right choice. It’s not, though.
Instead of trying to stay positive and remain upbeat, allowing yourself to have bad days where you don’t get out of bed is perfectly acceptable. If it helps us get through the day, it’s even a necessity.
As the pandemic wore on, some of the unpleasantness really started to get to me. For starters, my face started to have some very bad reactions to the face masks I was wearing. Getting rid of the maskne has been an arduous road, and at the time, I felt absolutely horrendous.
My self-esteem thus cracked by my vanity, everything else kicked in too: the loneliness, the fear, missing my friends, realizing this won’t end soon. I had gone from a rather high up to a very deep down, and I couldn’t see any other emotion ever entering my life again.
The Uncertain Now
As I’m writing this, the world is slowly opening up. At least parts of the world are, at least temporarily. And while I still have my ups and downs, I have come to learn something incredibly important about myself and life in general.
The ups and downs are a given. When you are up, you don’t have to keep reminding yourself that a down is inevitable. Likewise, when you are deep in a valley, you don’t really need to keep telling yourself better days are coming.
All you really need to do is embrace both.
The bad days will, of course, be bad, but they are just as much a part of life as the good ones. There is no intricate balance that costs you one bad day for every good one. In fact, when you do get to this fickle and unstable state of equilibrium, you become much happier in general, even on the bad days.
This is by no means a recipe for dealing with loss and heartbreak. It’s just a way to deal with the days when we are slow, sluggish, and want nothing but to stay in bed and watch shows.
In short, I am today just as fearful (if not more so) and sometimes just as lonely as I have been at the height of the pandemic, when that third lockdown seemed never-ending. However, I’ve learned not to focus on my emotional state as much. Instead, I do my best to just give myself what I need when I need it.
I find it helps a lot.
No matter how the past year has made you feel – happy, sad, grateful, heartbroken, scared, motivated, invincible, lost – it’s okay. Every single emotion you’ve felt is justified, allowed. You are not less than just because you are not as adept at putting on a brave face.
You do you, babe – in your own time and at your own pace. At least the pandemic has taught us that.