Lockdown life has become a bit of a struggle at times. I’m now back to my usual cheerful, jokey self and have been for 10 days or so, but I had a good couple of weeks before that where I was consistently really fucking miserable.
I didn’t understand at first why I’d become so unhappy the last few weeks. It would have made sense at the start of lockdown, but why late May/early June when freedoms were slowly being granted?
Normally in life I am happy most days, at least in the last few years since discovering purpose to life – London and coding. I may have a moan and an occasional rant but mostly life was enjoyable and I was happy. Maybe I’d have a couple of down days every couple of months, and a few meh days, but most days I was at least relatively happy.
Come lockdown initiation, I was certainly anxious and worried yet I was still able to crack jokes and find the bright side. Sure, I didn’t have many days where I’d be especially happy, but I was only unhappy for very brief periods – like the 30 minutes of being outside. The beginning of lockdown was probably the world’s greatest meme period.
Then by late May/early June I was mostly feeling unhappy most days. I had a few happy days mixed in, but I just wasn’t enjoying life any more. My smile had gone. My upbeat joviality had gone. The drudgery of doing the same thing every fucking single day and the monotony of life – the excluding of all hope – it had ground me down and I was defeated.
Has it just been grinding me down all this time? Was there an initial sense of “all in it togetherness” that was eroded by Dominic Cummings? The timeline matches! Maybe I am envious of those that have loved ones around them? Is the novelty of sitting in my pants at my desk 7 days a week wearing off?
Why was I so unhappy?
My conclusion was part loneliness but more pertinently was that my enjoyment of life was out of bounds.
Everything that I want to do for enjoyment was and mostly still is out of reach, probably for many more months to come. Holidays, visiting family, eating at restaurants, drinking at pubs, going out with friends, random drunken nights after work with colleagues, visits to art galleries, pretending that I’m going to the theatre, going to the cricket, hugs, randomly popping into the city I love for a wander around…everything.
My roast dinner blog which is a big part of my life is pointless. I’ve tried to keep it going but I’ve lost enthusiasm – every time I write I just feel heartbreak about not being able to go to a pub, walk around London a bit, visit new areas, see cute waitresses – eat food someone else has cooked and be able to share and recommend the experience (or not).
This unhappy period also coincided with a spell of loathing work, and was mutually reinforcing! Normally I enjoy coding, really enjoy it to the extent that it is something I choose to do on a weekend for fun, but I had ended up with a really difficult ticket to tackle – rewiring server side user authentication to client side, and I was massively struggling, which made me feel worse – and feeling worse probably made it more difficult to work out how to achieve this task.
It may well have been easier to tackle in an office with colleagues around me.
Also I think part of the reason why I emotionally struggled a few weeks ago was that I had hoped that we’d have this lockdown for 10-12 weeks then everything would just snap back to normal. Over the last month or so it had slowly dawned on me that this really isn’t going to be the case – the imposition of face masks in public transport was a big psychological punch in the mouth.
So, where there are problems there must be solutions, and I have been working on re-imagining how to maximise my enjoyment of life over the next 6-12 months of not being able to do what I want to do.
I have come to accept that I simply won’t be going on holiday this year. I love going away, adventuring, creating memories, experiencing other cultures and foods – yet I can handle not going on holiday for a year, possibly two. It certainly won’t happen in 2020, and it may well not happen in 2021.
I probably won’t get on a tube train this year, which means I won’t be going to central London, and won’t have any roast dinners in pubs – except in Harrow or Pinner. Quite possibly very few meals out at all. I won’t be travelling to anywhere else in the UK, unless I can find someone to drive me. Thankfully my absolute sparkling diamond of a sister will always accept a petrol contribution to go to Hull.
I also won’t see other areas of London, go to theatre, art gallery, music events – I won’t experience any culture offline.
I have accepted all of this…well I think I have. There will definitely be times where this fucks me off, but mostly, I’ve resolved myself to this. And if my current expectations are wrong, then that would be wonderful news.
My thoughts now are on what I can do to put myself in a better position to maximise my enjoyment of life post-covid, whilst enjoying something different in the meantime.
Firstly I could write some bollocks about getting less unfit, but you’ve heard it before. I do have less excuses now though, I have more time, my bike might be returning in a month from its holiday in Luton and I have other ideas too which I might actually enjoy…but I won’t say because I don’t want it to be another thing that I said I would do that I don’t. There might even be more detoxes – I’m certainly eating much healthier since lockdown, though not quite fully there.
I’m also spending part of my weekends coding, or studying, to try to ensure that I learn more and it is easier for me to get a promotion in the future, internally next year I hope – or externally in a couple of years if not.
I am investing in the stock market – which may well not turn out to not look so wise in 6-12 months, but hopefully in 5-10 years it will have been a genius move. I am saving lots of money by not being able to do what I want to do so I may as well put it to good use. And I enjoy it…it gives me an interest to look into companies and try to work out where to invest a few hundred pounds every month.
And most excitedly I have a new blog in the works, which is about enjoying life indoors. Not too dissimilar to what I do with roast dinners, but something that will excite me and hopefully get an audience – and it has a new character too – I cannot wait to introduce you. I don’t want to say much until I have finished creating it, hopefully will be finished this weekend.
Lord Gravy has been retired – well, detained. The ability to go into London isn’t coming back any time soon so the blog is pointless, and just breaks my heart too much. I hope he survives his time in the gulag.
Finally I have about two dozen ideas for new websites, including the next Instagram, that I will never get around to doing…but maybe I might just get time, or at least I can learn how to do them in theory. If I ever bother taking any holiday this year, this is probably what I’ll do!
Roll on 2021…or maybe 2022
The theory being that come summer 2021, this virus shite will have gone, herd immunity will have finally been embraced, we can get on a tube train and go on an aeroplane without being suffocated.
Oh, and I will be fitter, less obese, richer, have a brand new popular blog, be even more employable than I am now, and ready to take on all the new opportunities of a post-Covid world.
That’s the theory. I see your eyes rolling. At least I have a plan. I’m quite excited anyway.