I didn’t expect to be writing this at all. I didn’t expect a similar anxiety to that of the beginning of lockdown to come back now that things seem to be going back to normal.
Twelve weeks ago, almost every single day was filled with call after call. My work day was the busiest I’d ever experienced with back to back meetings with people I hadn’t even spoken to before. Now, the picture is very different.
Every few weeks or so, my new book club will meet over a Zoom call. It’s been a uniquely joyful experience to reconnect with humans that are so like minded that we just… get each other. I’d forgotten what it felt like to truly relax and be myself unapologetically to the point that every time we end the call, I’m left in hysterical sobs. Fearing the silence. Going back to just “coping”.
Some days can go by where I only exchange a few texts with my managers, and some weeks the only ones I “see” are them, too. It’s good because I can focus and get work done, but it’s also raised a few flags. Namely, what’s going to happen to people’s careers? I’m still quite a junior member in my organisation and the, now absent, spontaneous networking opportunities are posing a question I’d never thought would steal my sleep.
Are people going to forget about the “juniors”? Which new heights, if any, can my career take me to?
I’d never realised how much of my life so far has relied on networking, nor how much I needed it.
And yet, not everything has been bad. In a weird and painful turn of events, my mental health has never been better. I struggle and it’s hard and exhausting, but now I have the language to understand my own process. Isolation has forced me to heal from past trauma and to appreciate that I’ve been on a journey. To grow and start seeing myself as an adult. I’ve seen people I thought of as dear friends pull back, which has forced me to re-examine the way I forge friendships and nurture the ones I should truly care for.
I’ve also discovered new hobbies. I don’t know what I’d do now without my plants, or without running, or without my roller skates – even if I’m only practicing in my living room (please don’t tell the landlords). I’ve started writing creatively again.
The UK is still not back to normal life, and there’s enough uncertainty in the air to keep me from sleeping soundly. But the shops are open and bars will follow through soon. I’ve taken the train and I can spend most of my free time outdoors with people if I wanted to. So this is the end of These 4 Walls. Thank you for keeping me company on this journey.
I’d like to leave you with two pictures for the ride. The first one (left) was taken ten years ago – it’s my first self-portrait ever, when I was at my thinnest. My mental health was spiraling downwards and setting me up for a decade of emotional and physical hardship. The second one (right) was taken this year, only a couple of weeks before this post is published. Even though I had just fallen on my skates and was feeling upset and scared, I look the way I feel: goofy and grown up.