Have you ever had a person in your life who never seems to know when to take their leave? They may be a friend, work colleague, or – dare I say it – a family member. I think we all know THAT person; the person who turns up at inopportune times and interrupts your plans. They may walk into a room and completely take over, oblivious to what has been going on prior to their arrival. They wear out their welcome, but don’t seem to notice or care. They are sometimes overbearing and controlling and (whether intentionally or deliberately) try to dictate how the group they are a part of behaves, and maybe even how they dress. In extreme situations they can isolate or break down the people in their social setting. If left unchecked, their impact can be damaging and far-reaching.
We all have that unwelcome guest in our world at the moment. Meet Covid-19, also known by several other aliases: Coronavirus, The Virus, Rona and others that I cannot put into print. This so-called guest – intruder really – has been everything I just described, and so much more.
Rona has impacted everyone. For me, like many others, it threw a punch right between the eyes that has led to feeling a real lack of purpose in life. It stopped my brand-new business in its tracks several months ago. As a travel agency, my business is unable to “pivot” (isn’t that a catchphrase of the moment!) like many businesses can, and it will not be able to operate effectively again for quite some time yet…no one knows when travel will truly start up again. It has prevented my husband and I from seeing the boys we offer respite care to. I miss them and the energy they bring to our home. It has interrupted so many plans, hopes and dreams that mattered to me. It has isolated us from our loved ones. I want to physically be with family and friends rather than continue to pursue that difficult relationship with Zoom. Mind you, I am grateful that we do have that technology.
The pandemic has dictated how I access the basic necessities, where and when I go out and even how I dress when I do go out – face masks are compulsory where I live. They are awkward and inconvenient; I have to remember to check if I have one before leaving my house, and then face both the challenge of breathing due to chronic hayfever and managing glasses that are often out of focus due to either sitting awkwardly or being fogged up. To be honest, I also struggle psychologically with them. I feel muzzled and hidden.
There are so many ways in which the unwelcome guest that is Covid-19 has negatively impacted our lives. Am I ok? No, not really. I feel the pain of hopes and dreams that have been damaged, broken or delayed. I struggle to feel inspired or motivated. I feel isolated. I feel controlled.
Will I make it through? Yes, I will. There is a very strange comfort in knowing that what I am feeling and experiencing (or versions thereof) are also being felt and experienced by thousands and thousands of others. I am not alone in this. So, how do we get through this bizarre and challenging time? We recognise that life simply is not normal. We are all paying a price and there is a cost involved. It is ok – and healthy – to feel the pain of that cost, and we need to give ourselves the space to do so. There may be tears to cry and mindless bingeing on Netflix for a while instead of the high-achieving baking, renovating and self-improvement regimes that it feels like everyone else is doing. BUT we don’t want to remain stuck in that space. It sounds like a cliché, but there are silver linings to be found if we look for them. Eventually inspiration will come to paint that room or bake an Instagram-worthy cake, and when it does we need to go for it. Let’s look for the things that bring us peace and enjoyment, even in our current circumstances. Let’s embrace the remarkable opportunity we have to spend time with those we live with, to work on projects we have been meaning to do for years, to just slow down for a while. Let’s reach out to each other, making sure our friends and family are ok. Let’s allow creativity to flow – whether it is a zoom dinner with friends or learning a new skill. Maybe by the end of this we will all be master bakers with beautiful homes and gardens that have been created with next-to-no money. It’s possible!
I know that circumstances are incredibly tough for some of us, and it feels impossible to pick ourselves up. If that is you, I urge you to reach out for support. Despite how it may feel, you really are not alone. We will get through this, and eventually the Unwelcome Guest will take its leave.