Life after Lockdown
This is one of those kinds of posts that should be in my diary, not on the internet but, fuck it.
I've spent so much of my young adult life allowing my happiness to be a secondary concern. I've stayed in jobs that have affected my mental health for the worst because I thought I had no other options and that people would judge me for quitting. God, the hours that I must have spent preoccupied with what other people think of me over what I think of myself. Changing out of a tight outfit to a baggy one because I thought my stomach looked too big and my thighs too small. Eager to spend my money on meaningless shit when it could be going towards holidays and adventures. Allowing people to walk all over me, welcoming them to criticise me if it will help them feel better. Shying into a corner instead of standing up for myself. Staying indoors for days when I know that I'd rather be out enjoying the sunshine but, my excuse is that "I can't be bothered."!
I've wasted so much precious time.
A WAKE-UP CALL
For a lot of us, it feels as though lockdown has stolen a year of our lives. We've missed out on precious lunch dates in random coffee shops, laughter on rollercoasters, butterflies in our stomachs as the plane is taking off, harmony and oneness at concerts, conversations in beer gardens, knowledge gained from museums. There have been so many valuable moments that we've not been able to enjoy because of lockdown.
On the flip side, I feel like lockdown has provided me with the time to think and ensure that I make the most out of the years to come. Lockdown has been a wake-up call for me, a wake-up call to make the most out of my life and do more of what makes me happy (less of what makes me sad).
Before lockdown, I was wasting time. I'd walk to work daydreaming about being on a beach in Asia, emersed in a world of culture (a world away from my walk to work in the rain). I'd fall asleep at night, thinking about all of the things that I wanted to do; but never having the confidence or drive to put them into action. Thankfully, lockdown strolled along at the perfect time for me; it placed a fire in my belly. The excitement that I had for my twenties while I was a teenager is returning yet, now I'm actually in my twenties and can make my dreams a reality.
These past twelve months have allowed me time (so much time) to think and reflect. I've had time to ask myself if the life I was living was making me happy or if I was just comfortable. I realised that I was stuck in my comfort zone (in a mediocre way), always happy to put things on hold until "tomorrow or the day after."! I was forever waiting for a Monday that was never coming. When I was a teenager, my biggest fear was that I wouldn't achieve the life that I wanted, and before lockdown, that is what was happening to me. I felt stuck, as though all of my dreams that I'd once wanted were going to remain as dreams, never coming to fruition. As dramatic as it sounds, at twenty-one, it felt as though my life was speeding before my eyes, and I didn't know how to get a hold of it, slow things down, and make a change.
For me, lockdown was a blessing in disguise.
In reality, I've missed out on some drunk nights out and maybe a holiday - That's it. If lockdown hadn't have happened, my life would still be moving at full force. I'd have a holiday to look forward to once or twice a year and drunk nights out to blur my unhappiness and declining bank balance. Honestly, spending my life like that petrifies me. The thought of wasting my twenties being unhappy and bored (to put it lightly) is a nightmare I refuse to live.
So, although it may be an unpopular opinion - I will always be grateful for this lockdown. Not to be overdramatic but, it's saved me and reminded me to make the most out of being young and having no responsibilities.
LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN
Admittedly I needed this year to reflect, but now, I'm ready for the restrictions to be lifted and life to begin again. Not only do I have the past twelve months to make up for, but I also have every year since I was seventeen make up. I'm now aware of the places in which I was wasting my energy and where I need to pour it instead. I've learned the areas of my life that I need to toughen up and those where I need to relax and let my hair down.
God, I am so excited.
Firstly, I've realised that to have a happy life - I must prioritise my mental health. For me, this looks like: Practicing self-care daily (having a good night's sleep, time to myself, cosy nights in, fresh air). For me, little practices of self-care add up and benefit my mental health vastly. Secondly, setting time aside to exercise is a huge priority for me. Working out helps me to feel more confident in my skin and helps me to feel happier. It gives me the energy and motivation to do the things that I want without feeling tired or unmotivated. Thirdly – Money. Becoming financially free is something that I'm eager to strive towards daily. Learning to get better at spending money (not wasting it) and making sure to save money from my paycheck each week means that I will have money to spend spontaneously, whether that be on a weekend away or a day out - For me, money equals freedom.
After lockdown, I'm determined to throw myself into work during the week and fun on the weekends. While I'm young, I want to make sure I'm creating a healthy work-life balance (not waiting for the weekends and not spending my weeks unhappy). I don't want to live a life where my highlights are the weekends - I want to find enjoyment in my work life and personal life.
Work is demanding, so I know that I need to become more organised during the week (prep my meals so I'm not spending ten pounds a day on lunch). I want to be waking up early so that I have time to do a workout before work (bonus points for time spent in the garden, sunbathing, and reading). I want to find humble enjoyment during the week. Hearty breakfasts that I can eat in the garden before work. Evening walks listening to podcasts as the sun is setting. Spontaneous dinners at pubs and picnics in the park. Mostly, I want to spend my weeks focusing on work, writing this blog, and working towards my goals. I also want to find enjoyment in the little things again, like stopping off for a cake at a cute-looking cafe or eating ice cream from an ice-cream van.
I moved to West London in October, and despite the pandemic, I feel as though I've made the most of exploring this beautiful city (I love it here). After the pandemic, I want to explore it tenfold. I'm going to make it my mission to stay in tourist mode, exploring the hidden corners and tourist attractions EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. I'm in the middle of making a "London Summer Bucketlist" - It's making me so excited. I can't wait to do my hair and make-up nice, slip into a summery dress and head out for day drinks at a cocktail bar or an evening of live music and cider. I want to go to as many museums, nightclubs, restaurants, and attractions as humanly possible. I know that there is way more to life than drinking BUT, I can't wait to be leaving a club at 4 am and eating Mcdonald's on the tube. Every weekend I want to be hopping on the underground, from North to West, South to East. The more of London I see, the greater it seems to grow, and I'm so eager to explore every inch of it.
I'm ready to say yes to everything, yes to opportunities, yes to new experiences, and yes to living. I want to make the most out of being young and free (and making up for every year since I was seventeen). I want to have to money to randomly hop on the Eurostar to Paris or spend a weekend in Brighton. Life is too short to waste; there's a world of opportunities out there that can't wait until Monday.
So, despite the gigantic shit storm that COVID has been - There are positives that I can pull from it that will (hopefully) stay with me for the rest of my life. I've finally stopped taking life for granted and feel so excited to make the most out of my twenties and establish a balance that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. There's a part of me that is anxious for life to return to normal but mostly, I'm excited because I know that for me, it's going to feel like a new normal, a new and more exciting lease of life. A second chance.