I’m feeling like a quarantine failure. Yes, I am having a bad case of Compare & Despair! I am feeling very “less than” as I look at what everyone is doing in their quarantine time… and I’m not.
Here’s a partial list of all the things I’m NOT doing: baking, doing daily 4-mile walks in nature, taking up water color painting, creating art of any type, learning to knit, taking a class in wine appreciation (or cheese board creation or flower arranging), learning a new language, writing (another) book, having virtual happy hours each week, having a weekly zoom-based family game night, doing the daily on-line OTF workouts, improving my blog layout, making masks to donate to charity, de-cluttering the house, doing regular take-out to support local restaurants, or learning to eat a plant-based diet. Sadly, every one of these ideas was either suggested to me, or is something someone I know is doing. In fact, I’m not even planning our big move nor doing a top-to-bottom spring clean.
I read recently that the instability (emotional, financial… even physical) of this time can make even a high-functioning person feel stressed. Yes, I believe I’m usually high functioning. And yes, I’m feeling a bit stressed from the future uncertainty and loss of connections. Adding in this Compare & Despair is not helping. Why did quarantining turn into a competition?
I know that I am incredibly blessed. We have enough food to eat and a comfortable home to be in. Our families are all staying healthy with the recommended isolation strategies. I don’t have children to home school while I figure out working-from-home, nor job-less boomerang kids returning. And I am extremely grateful for all of that. But still, the continued isolation does get me down at times, especially as I look at what everyone else seems to be doing and my days seem to be mostly non-productive.
So what in reality am I doing? Unfortunately, when I look at my days I often see too much social media scrolling (lots of the coronavirus stuff – from charts to articles), YouTube watching (the late night monologues, the Cirque de Soliel shows, various musical-based things), game playing (crosswords and scrabble), and jigsaw puzzling (on my 5th 1000 piece puzzle). None of that is very productive.
But I am also practicing yoga (on-line with Adriene, like many), doing daily gratitude and morning journaling, cooking more (both pantry-cooking and trying new recipes – trying being the critical word), and trying to stay connected with friends via texts & chats. I’ve done one big project (photo-review for digitization), made masks for us (re-learning how to sew!), taken 2 on-line classes, and joined the 21st Century in on-line connection (learned how to Zoom, work my Kindle, and do e-cards.)
I know I need to learn a new normal. A world (for the foreseeable future) that does not contain many of the things I love to do – group classes, live theater, restaurant dinners with friends, arts & crafts shows. That’s the reality of my world – let go of the retirement lifestyle I had created, allow myself time to mourn the loss, and define a new normal.
I realized after a great blog post by Michele (thriving through uncertainty – link here) that once again, I am in the middle of living through a transition. Isn’t there a quote, “Physician, heal thyself?” Why did I not recognize this transition?!?
Similar to Michele, I’ve written about the three phases of transition, but used different language (see my old blog post link – August 2015). I’ve absolutely gone through (am still going through?) the “Let it Go” phase – recognizing and mourning the losses. And I am definitely feeling the discomfort of the middle phase of “let it be”. From my previous post: “Let it Be: a period of low energy, a feeling of limbo. This is the time to mull over the change occurring…time to just “let it be.” It helped me to think of this time as an incubation period, a fertile time to think and be creative, or the cocoon that allows the butterfly to emerge.”
I will start to look at the litany of things people recommend or do, not as “should’s” and failures for me, but as possibilities to explore. I will clarify my retirement lifestyle vision statement, once again, and start a new action plan, assessing the possibilities versus my values and vision. When I feel ready to emerge and “Let it Begin” (phase 3 of transition), I’ll have my unique path going forward once again in sight. A new normal.
Have you felt like a quarantine failure? Does thinking about this time of quarantine like a cocoon to emerge anew help reframe that for you?