You may have heard, things have been a little eventful of late. Back in mid January when my niece came to visit, we first got news on the wind that there was a strange new virus sweeping through a city in China. At the time it felt distant, faraway, like most frightening things do on the news, and the bitching topic of the day was still Brexit. My niece and I are both notable alarmists when it comes to health, and fretted that perhaps… this possibly deadly new virus could make its way to the UK. It was said in the way that one does, as though acknowledging the possibility somehow makes it less likely to come true. How naive we were.

Fast forward two months. I sit, freshly showered and nighttime skin care done, in my quiet flat with Miles Davis playing as I write. What have I done today? Oh this and that. Listened to podcasts, went to the cafe downstairs for a coffee, watched a film, attempted to get my interminable laptop to wake up and work. How have I felt? I awoke with distinct feelings of frustration, unease, anxiety and generally counted the hours in between meals to keep me sane. This is not by choice, and there is also no one to blame. University lectures and seminars are suspended. The gym is closed. Fitness classes cancelled. Venturing outdoors in any unnecessary way is discouraged. My best friend’s wedding in Cyprus is cancelled. Her surprise Hen Do to Dublin, you guessed it. Money is being lost, and days somewhat limited. The first global pandemic in my and many other people’s lifetimes has hit, and in short, we are not in the same world anymore.

I am well aware I am one of the luckier ones. I have a roof over my head, and live (blissfully) alone. I have savings in my account and friends and family that care for me. I am relatively young and relatively fit. I am truly not the one I’m most worried about at the moment. I’m worried about the friends of mine from my degree who have caught the accursed virus, and are soldiering through their fevers, coughs and generally feeling as though they’ve been hit by two buses every day. I’m worried about the students having to share houses with others who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously enough, and think house parties and get togethers are STILL a good idea. I’m worried about my brother, who works with children in central London, rides the tube, and who’s housemate is now in hospital suspected to have COVID-19. I’m worried about the elderly, who now more than ever deserve our help, consideration and respect when the lesser beings in our society adopt a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality, panic buying every pasta packet, every loo roll, every hand-gel and every bag of rice so there is none there for those in need. I’m worried about those with pre existing conditions, who’s immune systems are sadly less able to fight this devious new invader.

I am also thankful. Thankful to the great comedians and actors and entertainers that are putting in so much effort to promote positivity, keep us laughing, keeping us busy and telling us eventually, this will all be ok. Thankful to the brave medical workers of all positions who are putting themselves on the front lines, working through days and nights to do everything they can to keep people healthy, and help those weaker and more vulnerable struck down. Thankful to the scientists and experts informing us of what salient and accurate information there is, as I’ve always believed even in dire situations- knowledge is always power. Thankful to my friends and close family members for checking in, showing they care, and offering to help as they know times are about to get very hard.

You see, I’m a girl who thrives on structure. As much as I’d like to be the sexy, bohemian soul who drifts through life and achieves great heights without a plan, I’m in fact a very different creature. I’m the girl who likes feeling in safe control of her life (to a healthy extent. There’s always room for nice surprises). I’m the girl who likes getting up at a decent hour (a new phenomenon in my later twenties), having a semi decent plan for the day, going to her lectures, going to the gym, and ticking her way down the list of things to do, feeling satisfied when they’re all achieved. It doesn’t always work, but it’s like mapping a path in front of you instead of walking blind. You’re less likely to stray off the road. I like planning what I eat, and knowing if I stick to the plan and get a bit of exercise in, I’ll continue dropping a few pounds. I’m the girl that functions well without alcohol, that strange best friend and worse enemy, who at once brings so much pleasure, yet so much regret- and will persistently lead myself and many others to go off the boil when left unchecked.

The most difficult part for me, during this very early stage of what I’m sure are harder times to come, is the loss of that structure. Or perhaps, the harder challenge of carving a new structure of my own whilst unaccountable to anyone else. I like that you get checked for your attendance at university, I like that you swipe your card at the gym noting you’ve been there, and I like that you have to print your ticket off to go to the evening yoga classes. It forces you to interact more with people, to see how they’re doing and to make sure you’re keeping up, to have social arrangements before or after these things when you can chat about your life and chow down a baked potato with a hot frothy coffee. Now, we are all islands. Sitting in our separate houses and flats, making our own routines, filling our hours and wondering how long all this will last. What headline will ding dangerously on our phone screen next? What numbers will the media summarise for us to be shocked/ depressed by in the morning?

Again, I know this is probably coming across as rather self absorbed/ ungrateful. But when forced to spend this much time alone, no housemate or significant other to chat with on the sofa, it’s difficult not to get a bit lost in your own thoughts. My worries are different than ‘I hope I don’t catch COVID-19’, in fact I feel it’s a near inevitability that many of us will have it, with symptoms varying from literally NONE, to extremely severe. I’m hopeful and will do all I can to avoid it for others sakes as well as my own, but I worry more about uncertainty.

Crawling slowly towards my goal weight (with many setbacks along the way) I’ve been more successful over the last month or so, going to the gym, yoga, disciplining myself and working for results. I’m worried the absence of the gym and classes and even socialising will slow this down, and I won’t be able to attain what I truly want to by the time I graduate. I’m worried I’ll lose focus on my uni work, though I’m consistently pushing it to the forefront of my mind- and my results will reflect the upheaval and mental space all this change and worry has taken up. My work hours, though never abundant, have been cut back, and I know it’s going to be far harder not to eat dangerously away at my savings through the next few months. I’m worried the absence of structure and company will lead back to bad habits, and I’ll lose the progress I’ve made. The phrase ‘getting my shit together’ has applied at intervals throughout my years, and right now I’m afraid the drama, alarm and illness that will continue to grow will throw me out of the this particular (and rather crucial) phase of it.

I know time heals all things, that this too shall pass and we live in an age of modern science when we can work faster and harder to fight this, but it is still an openly frightening and precarious time. We are watching history being written around us, and I’m at once curious and afraid to see how this chapter ends. For people’s families, their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is a large, hovering question mark over the vast majority of us right now. For now, it is one day at a time in this tiny world of one. I will continue to get up, to be a little productive every day, have a walk, get a coffee… I’ll even try an ‘at home work out’- something I’ve not done since I was seventeen, and little by little, make a new kind of normal. One in which I can more than just survive, one in which I can truly get to thrive, and achieve all the goals that feel not all that far out of reach.

Until next time, be healthy, be happy, be kind. ❤️

2 Comments on “This Side of Pandemics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: