Hi everyone! This isn’t a typical marketing post but considering how we’re all in the Covid soup together, I thought I’d share my experience.
Life before March 2020
To give you a context, here’s a glimpse of my life before March 2020.
I have been a freelancer, working from home since 2009, so not much change there. But I went out fairly often to meet clients in coffee shops, restaurants, enjoying the occasional excursions away from my home office. Since I love riding my scooter and driving generally, I would go around city streets just for the heck of it, explore new lanes, shops, residential areas, whatever struck my fancy at the time. I’d go out often to meet friends.
I’d attend events for professional and personal growth, join treks and outdoor activities, and take vacations with family every 3-6 months. I shopped, ate out, moved around without thinking overmuch.
Life as on 16 July 2020
How Covid has affected me professionally
For starters, I seem to be overwhelmingly swamped with work. Not that there wasn’t a fair amount of work before but now there is a feeling of insecurity and even, guilt. Like, so many people have lost their jobs so how can I crib about too much work! But I’ve realized that working constantly on a computer is exhausting. Taking all your meetings on video conferencing is draining! Well, at least it seems so to me.
The increased screen time leads to highs and lows, periods of mental and physical stress. And eye strain as well. Combined with the monsoon, my Vitamin D is definitely on the down and down.
With nowhere to go and no real reasons to venture out, I’m spending far too much time glued to my seat. On the other hand, when I do get an opportunity to venture out, I resist it because it feels so unnatural to talk to people through masks and then there’s plain fear. Why risk it? Can I do this online?
Online meetings happen without masks. But you miss the cues of body language. Vibes are real.
No more classroom trainings, it’s all online. Online training is good too but classroom training is the most effective, hands down. I miss the classroom synergy, the mix of knowledge sharing and banter with students.
On the positive side though, I’ve learned a few new digital tools. Providers are sharing trials more generously so there are more options to explore.
I have started taking webinars to engage with my audience. I’ve found time to work on my website and align it better with my new business strategy – work with more social profit and nonprofit organizations.
I’ve started collaborations with old friends and professional connections.
And made more contributions to social causes than ever before.
How Covid has affected me personally
I miss two things the most. One, the freedom to take a vacation without any thoughts of sanitization, Covid spread, cautionary steps, etc. The second, the freedom to take an inter-state trip to meet family and dear ones. I missed my summer trip to my parents and an overseas trip to loved ones.
The thought of a 14-day quarantine is not just scary but also an expensive option if you have to stay in a hotel. And then you think, surely these are not essentials. We can wait a little more. Your parents also insist that you not take the risk. You worry that even if you take the risk, you might become an asymptomatic carrier and infect your parents. No one wants that!
Visiting friends has become a strange experience. You call ahead and check if it’s OK. You don’t hug them on meeting. You may not wear a mask inside the house but you maintain a safe distance. You make sure there are no small children or elderly in the house you could unwittingly infect. The paranoia and fear are palpable!
If the weekdays are busy, the weekends are busier with housework. But that has led to more delegation of work at home, responsibility-sharing, collaborations and then finally some relaxed time together.
Unfortunately, sometimes, work creeps into weekends. The push to stay productive and not let the crisis get you down is becoming a bigger monster.
Cooking to me became an outlet, at least in the initial days. There was experimentation with grand meals. That was a short-lived affair though because the moment the government allowed domestic helpers again, I was back to my “I don’t wanna cook” routine. Honestly, if I have a few hours at my disposal, I’d rather do something I enjoy. Cooking isn’t one.
Then, as a family that enjoys eating out, do we order, do we not? Is it safe? Is it too risky? Do we really have to? But we did give in a few times because somedays no one wants to enter the kitchen. And most certainly, no one wants to make the outlandish meal you’re craving for!
It became evermore important to exercise. I’m happy to say my whole family has been fairly consistent in exercising, making sure they get the needed air, sun and adrenalin. It gets a little shaky for my teenage son, it’s just not as motivating without friends to play with. I do feel bad for the kids.
We once ventured out shopping for a laptop. The need arose when schools went online. It was a truly weird experience. We stood outside the shop for 15 minutes maintaining social distancing. Apparently, many parents were facing the same situation. I kept forgetting about social distancing and my husband would pull me back. Then there was sanitization of the hands on entry. The shop had limited inventory and even fewer salespeople. After a wait of 10 minutes, someone could attend to us. All talking through masks, it just didn’t feel real. Moreover, I started feeling warm and had to fight the urge to pull the mask down. The billing took 20 minutes. No, not a good experience. Doesn’t encourage me to shop offline anymore. Online shopping is good enough for me.
New feelings during the crisis
The crisis has created feelings of paranoia, fear, and judgementalism if there is such a word. We judge the lack of safety practiced by another or the excessive practice of safety. We judge the government, the people around us, even our family members.
There was a short time when online deliveries stopped and it led to panic. Though most houses (in our economic strata) had sufficiently stocked larders, anxiety spiked.
Getting into a lift with four other people? No. Take the stairs.
Wash the delivery packets with hot water and soap.
Wash the fruits, the vegetables.
Use hand sanitizer.
Wash your hands.
Now, we’re at a stage where we accept Corona can visit our homes too despite our best efforts. Life, after all, must go on.
There is uncertainty. There are highs and lows. Our parents refuse to talk about anything else. The media makes it worse. You stop checking the news. You stop checking Whatsapp.
And finally, you take a deep breath and experience a great sense of gratitude.
For shelter. For food. For freedom. For amenities. For privileges. For volunteers. For technology. For family. For health. For life.
It took a crisis to make us humble, to acknowledge that humans are as puny as microorganisms in the scope of the great universe.
So that’s been my rollercoaster. How’s yours been?