I can picture it. My fingers hitting the keys on the keyboard. I’ve many a thought swirling about in my head – a plethora of words gathering speed and heat ready to burst onto the page like an erupting volcano. I’ve thought about writing this all day, sitting on the train home just desperate to return to my cosy room, the safe space where nobody can get me. The safe space that was mine and only mine.
But, what happens when that safe space has become where you study? Where you work a forty hour week from? Where you get ready? Where you cry at sad films then scroll funny social media videos to cheer yourself up? Where you sleep? Where you do some of your deepest thinking?
Suddenly, that space that was yours and only yours, the place you’d run to at the end of a busy day, is open to the world.
And suddenly, the place you’d associate with doing all the things you love, such as writing or watching your favourite programme to unwind, feels less like a sanctuary and more like a cell.
For the past four months, I’ve shared my small lilac walled bedroom, that’s usually reserved for just me, with everyone. I’ve been conducting phone interviews. I’ve been having Skype calls. I’ve been having work meetings. I’ve been having online birthday gatherings. I’ve converted my dressing table into a work desk and have put my beautiful vintage vanity set into a box for safekeeping.
When I look at my laptop with its peeling Redbubble stickers of Absolutely Fabulous icons and Sex and the City quotes, I don’t feel inspired.
I feel fatigued.
If the past few months has taught me anything, it’s that routine is of paramount importance. Without being able to separate my work or University life from my home life, suddenly the things that I found joy in have disappeared. I’ve begrudgingly had to welcome the outside world into the place that was mine and no longer do I associate my room as being my happy space.
I haven’t taken much pride in my personal space (or probably myself for that matter) for the past few months. It’s like I’ve got blinkers on, and now I don’t take in anything around about me. It’s less of a bedroom and more of an office. My phone is no longer where I watch TikTok hacks, but where I call people for work purposes. My laptop is no longer where I can type my innermost thoughts and pour my heart onto my page, but where I host work meetings or have my fourth quiz of the month (thank God folk are over them now).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for so many things. I’m so grateful for still having a job during the strangest period that many of us have ever lived through. I’m grateful I’ve got my own space, my own laptop, my own phone.
But, I miss boundaries.
I miss knowing when the working day is over because I’m leaving the office. I miss the routine of going to the gym, getting home and making dinner. I miss going a walk on my lunchbreak to grab a cappuccino from the café across from the office.
Days are going by so quickly, yet are all merging into one.
For the past few months, I feel that I’m constantly working myself up about justifying how much work I’m doing from home. I am getting annoyed at myself when I see how people have used this time to push forward with their weight loss goals, when I seem to have taken a big step back. I’ve undid a lot of the self-improvement work I’ve spent months doing and instead am back trying to fight against the slippery slope of self-deprecation.
I keep beating myself up for forgetting myself over the past few months. For putting on a few (okay MANY) pounds, becoming too comfortable with spending the working day wearing my pj’s from the night before and eating more buttered toast than any human requires.
I’ve been annoyed that I’ve stopped investing in my writing, in my plans, in myself.
Just because the world has changed as we know it, it shouldn’t mean we need to stop making ourselves a priority.
Yes, I keep being reminded ‘it’s a pandemic, hun’, but so many people are like me and keep comparing ourselves to others and think we should have achieved so much during the past few months.
So many people have been tweeting that Shakespeare apparently wrote some of his best works during the plague ‘lockdown’ saying if he can do that, we can do anything.
And to that I say, piss off thou William babe.
Yes, I could’ve been up every morning doing a workout. I could’ve been investing in my diet as it was the perfect time to eat well and not have to grab things in a rush. I could’ve been enjoying getting out a walk after work and taking in some fresh air, as apparently it could do us the world of good.
But, I didn’t.
And who actually cares?
Things are starting to get back to ‘normal’ (Who is she? Do we know her?) so perhaps I’ll also begin to find my zest for life again.
I told myself I’ve nothing to show for the past four months and I’ve simply just survived.
But, I graduated. I’ve worked full-time. I recycled my old vanity unit and made something fabulous. I started to write for House of Revolution. I watched the whole of Cruising with Jane McDonald from the beginning.
I may have done all of the above in a dress size bigger than I was in March and may have left some of my loves in life by the wayside, but I don’t think that’s something to beat myself up over.
Shakespeare apparently said ‘it’s not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves’.
And to that I say, that’s the tea thou William.
Amy Claire Shearer