Friday 17 April 2020

Quarantine; is this what waiting feels like?

I've written on here before about being an immediately gratified millennial, and during lock down I can't help but feel that my tendency to want things to happen instantaneously is being tested. We live in an instant world, this doesn't come as news to anyone I'm sure, but I'm sure we can all agree that the pace we're living at now feels for many of us, brand new.

Living in a digital age it feels commonplace to be able to scroll aimlessly through fashion sites and have the pieces you don't really need anyway delivered to your doorstep less than 24 hours later. Before you've even contemplated needing new shoes, you've seen advertisements three times pre 9am while scrolling through your instagram feed telling you that you do. Worldwide news delivered to your palm with the touch of a button. And none of this has changed. So why do I feel like I'm living in an episode of Black Mirror? Life as we knew it has changed for who knows how long, and yet here I am, distracting myself with online shopping (sorry Liv... I know I said I wouldn't, but I'm weak and the prospect of being unemployed soon doesn't seem to phase me (that's a lie, it definitely does, I'm just trying to drown that out by shopping too)).

I don't know about anyone else, but I've been asking the universe for a life 'pause button' for quite some time now. Life moves so quickly doesn't it? Before you know it the experiences you once looked forward to in anticipation are now just memories; goals in life are either ticked off or fall by the wayside and replaced with the next, and we just keep on going. Constantly on the go, lists never ending, do-ers in a busy world. So when I asked for a pause button, Universe, this wasn't quite what I had in mind...

At school, we were asked aged 13 to carefully consider our future careers as we chose our GCSE options that were bound by the weight of defining our futures based on the exams we sat two years later. A burden further weighted as they in turn sculpted the A-levels we sat to determine our degree. Even now, deciding our future at 18 seems more than a little crazy to me. It feels as though decisions in life have been expected of me instantly, and as a result I now expect myself to know my own mind instantly meaning there isn't time to think about how I feel about something because if I leave it too long the opportunity will have passed me by. Equally, I expect things in life to happen instantly, I'm not one for waiting.

I have never known what I wanted to do with my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm forever destined to rush into opportunities in front of me whilst waiting for 'the right thing' to come to me, so it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to me when those things don't always go to plan. Being clueless about my future is still true to form now at the ripe old age of 25. I deferred my initial offer to university with no intention of actually going because I had what I then thought was my dream job, only to later accept my placement with only two weeks notice to study something I had no real interest in. Inevitably, I dropped out with absolutely nothing to show for it except the label of my actions, 'drop out'. After my relationship ended, it took me a mere few months to quit my job and fly off to America for 4 months, only deciding to sign up to Camp America the day before the hiring fare in January and flying out at the end of April. For the record, I'd have flown out sooner if I didn't have to wait for a visa and background checks. Dissatisfied with the life I returned to I again uprooted and moved to London with a new job (at the risk of my new relationship, which again, inevitably failed perhaps for the best).

Maybe life doesn't move quickly, maybe I do. Life is still life now, and despite all the changes happening the only standstill, is me. So whilst I have the magical pause button gifted to me, I'm left with the sobering reminder that I have absolutely no idea what my future looks like. I do not know if I will have a job to return to and consequently money to pay my rent. I have no post-apocalypse back up plan. I'm fortunate enough to have wonderful parents who will always offer me a roof over my head, but at 25 I'm self aware that I should feel as though it should be more of a failure to me than it currently does, and it's really bugging me that I don't know why.

Maybe because at the moment everything feels temporary? Maybe because that hasn't happened yet. Maybe because it's not the worst thing happening right now. I keep hearing the word 'unprecedented' being banded about, which is very apt, because there is no other scenario that I can relate to that feels like this. Maybe because everyone in the world is facing the same scenario so to brand myself a failure if my job falls victim to the trial we're living through, am I therefore calling everyone else who faces the same outcome a failure? If so, I don't want that.

In actual fact what I might really be afraid of is what 'after this' looks like. 'After this' feels like it's the time that life starts over for me again, not a pause in the life I already have. It feels new and unknown, and that scares me because each time I've restarted my life I have been in control of the choices that got me to that point, and this time I don't. Like a rug that may or may not be pulled from underneath me, my career and personal life both have life changing decisions laid out in front of me that are outside of my control and it terrifies me. For the first time, I can't make a split decision that steers me into a new direction, one that I back with the full force of a typhoon to make happen whether or not it works. Isn't this purgatory? In limbo, waiting to have my fate chosen for me?

So instead of a pause button, I'm now thinking that actually it's a stop button. I've been gifted time to take stock and reflect, try new things [within the confines of my home or within walking distance that I can complete within my one daily outing] and push myself into hobbies I have been putting off, like yoga. I think the emotion I'm feeling is the anticipation of feeling overwhelmed when reality once again hits, which is crazy because that leaves me worrying about worrying about something that hasn't yet happened.

A friend said to me this morning that this feels like a school holiday, and I guess I have to agree. How much as grown adults have we all willed our school holidays to return? Sure, our friends and family are physically absent, but have you ever actually been more in touch with people since adolescence? I certainly haven't. This is like the break between leaving secondary school and starting college (or college to uni if you made that transition instead), like a blip in time where everything you have known so far stops and conscious that at the end of the blip, life is about to look a whole lot more grown up and if we're honest with ourselves probably more than just a little daunting.

There are days I feel 'meh' about quarantine.
There are days I feel good.
I'm not sure if I'm starting to feel healthier or crazy.
I'm anxious about what life looks like after this; in the meantime I'll just keep trying to lose myself in music and books, and accept that what will be will be.

Book: Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon - phenomenal read and I seriously recommend

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