Some thoughts after two years of living through COVID-19.
I don’t know about you, but on a personal level, I absolutely feel like a different person post-pandemic. It’s not all bad, but I definitely feel like I’ve changed. After taking some time to think about it, I came up with my own list of the most significant things that I took away from the last two years. Read on if you are so inclined!
💡 There is way, way, WAY more to life than work. Obviously, this is not a hot take by any means, but having gone through burnout resulting in long-term sick-leave during a pandemic, this was a HUGE realisation for me. I really want to go more into my burnout story some time because I know my experience is all too common among my peers, but I’ll be honest: I’m still struggling with over-working. I’m doing one million times better than I was at this time last year, but it’s a long road. It has taken a medical intervention, followed by strict rest, frequent therapy, routine exercise, medication, and lots and lots of support to get me feeling as physically and mentally healthy as I feel today. As cliché as it sounds, it’s made me see that work is just that – work. Instead of work, I want my life to be about things like friends, family, connections, food, travel, love, passion, purpose, fun, play, adventure, and all of the other things that make life great.
💡 Disabled and elderly people are people, too. There were so many COVID deaths that could have been prevented, and most of them sadly targeted elderly or disabled populations. Worse still, some people actually defended the lack of adequate response to these deaths, saying that they were either inevitable or a necessary evil (or both!), essentially insinuating that these populations are expendable because of their lack of ‘contribution potential’ in society. Everyone deserves to be protected as much as possible, because every single life is significant. The pandemic really opened my eyes to the ways disabled populations are discriminated against on a daily basis. For that, I am grateful, because I really wasn’t aware before Covid of how ableist so many aspects of our society are (think of public spaces, transportation, car design, architecture, etc.). I realise that I, too, had little interest in or regard for these populations (due in large part to our society’s collective dismissal and stereotyping of disabled persons), but now I know better and I vow to advocate for these groups whenever possible from now on.
💡 There are a LOT more immuno-suppressed people than I thought. And I’m married to one! The severity of the pandemic really hammered home for me that just because someone looks perfectly fine, it doesn’t mean they don’t potentially have an auto-immune disorder or something else that makes them more vulnerable. So even if I have an immune system tougher than premium Swedish steel, I need to remember that this is not the case for most people – and to protect myself for them!
💡 Travel is bad for the environment….and also non-negotiable for me. I realised that I really rely on travel and future plans to bring me joy in my everyday life. Of course, travel doesn’t need to be done by plane, but I have really missed travelling, especially travelling for work. On the bright side, the pandemic definitely made me more curious and proactive about exploring different parts of Sweden.
💡 I feel like I don’t know how to ‘human’ anymore. It was only two years of working from home and social-distancing, but sometimes I literally cannot remember the most basic of human transactions. More than once, I have found myself having a mini panic-attack when meeting new people because all of a sudden I have no idea how to kiss someone hello (who starts, which cheek first, do they do 2 kisses or 1 or maybe 3??!). Even the ‘back-and-forth’ of buying something at a store can be a struggle.
💡 The pandemic was like a busy international airport; it brought the absolute best…and the absolute worst out of humanity. I think everyone had significant moments during the pandemic that really highlighted how kind and great humans can be…and sadly, probably just as many (if not more) experiences that revealed how ugly and cruel they can also be.
💡 Masks are always going to be a ‘yes’ for me, dawg. Having barely gotten sick at all in the last two years (not counting allergies, unfortunately), I am never going back to traveling sans mask. Never!
I’d love to know: how are you feeling? Have you also been a slave to the emotional strain of living in these odd and isolating times?
Much love, always,
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