When the coronavirus started to shut down life as we know it and we were told to stay home as much as possible, I read a bunch articles, received a handful of email newsletters and watched a crapload of videos warning me not to waste this time. One author/philosopher actually created a course to help you make sure you took advantage of all this free time.
You can’t go anywhere, you’ll be locked in your house, you’ll have plenty of time to be productive, they said. Use it wisely. Study. Learn. Start that business. Work on that novel. Learn to cook. Get swole.
On March 15 I worked my last shift in the office and have been home, in my apartment, for about four months. 101 days exactly.
For the first month, I left only to go running. I had groceries delivered. I didn’t visit anyone, even at a social distance. I didn’t have anywhere to go. Honestly, I didn’t want to go anywhere. My anxiety was on blast.
Four months later, I leave the house a little more often. I’m still working from home, but I will go to the grocery store and run necessary errands. I’ll also visit my parents, my brother, my sisters, and their families, outside and socially distanced. I run six days a week and no longer freak out when I cross paths with walkers, joggers and bikers. Today I met up with my brother and nephew to go mountain biking.
And you know what I have accomplished?
• I rewatched all 22 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
• I watched 10 two-hour episodes of The Last Dance, five one-hour episodes of The Last Ride, two nights of WrestleMania 36, The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever (it was good, but not the greatest ever), two seasons of The Wire, two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of Shield, the sixth season of Bosch, and more YouTube than I care to admit.
• I’ve read or listened to 10 books.
• I’ve spent way too much time in my social media feeds and following the news cycle, which has caused more anxiety and depression and anger and imposter syndrome than I’m OK with.
• I work five days a week (thank goodness for that).
In other words, nothing, I’ve accomplished nothing. All that “free time” I have in quarantine/work from home, I’m wasting it.
I have tried to write, but my heart and head isn’t in it. Thankfully, I’m still working and my schedule is pretty much the same as it was before the pandemic, even without any sports to cover (I can’t express how grateful I am for that). I haven’t learned to cook or developed any new skills. I don’t want to start a business and I haven’t started “that novel.” I certainly haven’t gotten swole. Whatever the opposite of swole is, I’ve gone further in that direction during work-from-home.
I still run. I’m not running the type of mileage I was at this time last year when I was preparing for the Chicago Marathon, but after spending November and December not running, and January and February doing the run/walk thing, 30-35 miles is a win.
Otherwise, yeah, I’ve left a lot on the table. I’ve wasted a lot of time. I’m not real happy about that, but I’m also not going to keep beating myself up about it. Nothing about what we are going through is normal and nothing is going to be normal for a while. It has taken time to adjust and honestly, I’m still adjusting.
I want to do better, I want to be more productive. What have I done to change my momentum? Well, I’m trying to spend less time on social media. It’s a time suck that makes me feel bad about myself (comparison is the thief of joy, especially when you suffer from imposter syndrome) and makes me angry with people I don’t care enough about to be mad at. I’m also sitting down to write. As bad as this post is, it’s more than I’ve written when I wasn’t on the clock for work, in more than a month. I’m trying to read more, with varying degrees of success, and I’m trying to keep up with my physical therapy so I can continue to run, with a little less success than I would like to admit.
No one knows when life will get back to normal. I’m not sure it will ever get back to “normal.” I won’t be going back to the office and getting back into those routines until at least September. So, maybe now after 101 days at home, living in this “new normal,” I can start to make better use of this time. Maybe not.
It’s worth a shot to try, but it’s not worth hating myself if I end up watching all 22 Marvel movies again, either.