Last year, I really rejected the idea of a ‘new normal’. I was fairly adamant that this was a blip and we’d be back to our usual lives in a few weeks’ time.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
If anything, the pandemic opened my eyes wide open to how dissatisfied I was with my life and also to how fleeting time is. ‘Time has no meaning’ left my mouth fifty million times, and it’s true: you make of time what you will. A year is a really long time to go without hugging your dear friends close… but a year is also a drop in the ocean and we haven’t lost any time. Our 2020 and 2021 existed, and for a purpose.
There’s no hiding that I’ve made some pretty huge changes lately. I walked into March 2020 in a long-term relationship, ready to buy our first home, commuting daily to London and squeezing in far too many hobbies and activities into my weekly schedule. The pandemic arrived. Lockdown hit. For many months I patiently waited. I diligently worked from home, kept up my workout routine and replaced all of my usual weekly events with Zoom calls. Soon it began to crumble and I noticed that how I spent my time didn’t align with how I wanted to live. Why was I hellbent on waiting for ‘this’ to click before ‘that’ could happen?
While I’m not recommending you all to end relationships, quit jobs and fumble in the unknown like I have and am, I wanted to iterate how important it is to regularly check in on yourself, how you’re feeling and what you genuinely adore. Through a number of counselling sessions, I’m understanding that I’d covered up most chances at introspection in favour of being strung along down an ‘easy’ path.
It’s empowering, if not a little scary, to build a life I love almost from scratch. And here’s how I’m doing it.
Creating a productive morning routine. Listen, I’m not a morning person at all. Yet when I have a good start to the day, everything else falls into place. I’ve trialled many of these over the years, but lately I’m finding real joy and usefulness in greeting the day with a 45-minute run. Then, I’ll make breakfast and enjoy it in the garden – gotta make the most of British summertime, right? Afterwards, I’ll map out my day in my bullet journal and then the day properly begins.
Being strict with weekly self-care days. It’s strange how it can take a whole global pandemic and life shake-ups to remember that I deserve time to myself too. In fact, being kind and caring also means taking care of myself. Nowadays I’m ‘strict’ with ensuring I make time for myself throughout the week. I’ll typically have an evening entirely to myself, and then a weekend day full of the things that I enjoy. Fellow humans balancing life living with family, I totally recommend you do the same!
Taking myself on dates. Hand in hand with my previous point, I’m taking myself on dates again. With myself. I first started doing this when I lived alone in Hong Kong. I’d been dating, unsuccessfully, for almost a year and realised that I wasn’t even sure what I enjoyed or wanted from my dates, never mind them working out what I wanted. I’ll take myself out to a coffee shop, bookstore, restaurant or the lake, and do whatever I fancy, so I can get to know this version of myself. Spoiler: she’s nicer and more well-rounded than I remembered.
Trying new things. I’m a stickler for routine – my countless habit trackers and daily check-ins will tell you that. But something I’m finding is helping me endlessly is trying new things here and there. Saying ‘yes’ to an IG Live. Spending some evenings embroidering odd scraps. Going to a new town for an hour or so, just to see. Hanging out with friends of friends. Change doesn’t come from sitting in the same places and routines that made (me) unhappy, so here’s to new horizons.
What does a life you love look like?