May 27, 2020

Life Lately | #QuarantineLife, Work Burnout and What's Next

At first I thought it might be silly to do a life lately post given the current situation but then I remembered something I recently said to a coworker: "Even though I'm home all the time, that doesn't mean I don't have a life." [For context, I was raging against all the work "happy hours" I get invited to but more on that later.]

And it's true, I've found a new normal in all of this and I don't experience nearly as much anxiety as I did in those first few weeks but this is still very, very strange. Can you believe it's been two and a half months?! A part of me feels like it was just announced yesterday that we all had to stay home but at the same time, it feels like forever. But I've been trying my best to make the most of it and if I'm being honest, I'm actually not bored at home.

If I were to look on the positive side (and I try to do this often), working from home means I get three extra hours back now that I don't have to commute. In the beginning, I was mostly alternating my time between work, more sleep, reading, cooking, blogging, cleaning, and watching TV. (Goodness, that sounds like a lot already!) Then I added a Nintendo Switch into the mix. I started to workout, which has evolved from only walks and a bit of yoga to including dance cardio. I'm still horribly out of shape but it feels good to make the effort to exercise. I text, call and FaceTime with family and friends to stay connected. I'm cooking more than ever but also treating myself to Friday night and sometimes Saturday night takeout which is often one of the highlights of my week. I bought a betta fish, whom I've named Tomoe after a character in Kamisama Kiss, and I adore him. It's nice having a pet to take care of, even if all I do is feed him and watch him swim around in his tank. I keep trying to find little projects around the apartment to do. I recently ventured out in my car (and with a mask) to a nearby garden to spend time outdoors now that it's warmer. I'm constantly trying to think of new ways to use this time since my biggest pre-COVID complaint was never having enough of it. Or I take more moments to do nothing and decompress because life is still stressful. But what really made me feel better has been seeing my family once a week. 

From our first socially-distanced lunch on Easter Sunday! 
The physical distance from family and friends is what I've struggled with the most. I don't mind that restaurants, malls, and salons are closed for the unforeseeable future. I can live just fine with takeout, online shopping, and doing my own nails. But I miss being able to go inside my parents' house and hug my family. I want to see my friends in person. I want to hold my newborn nephew and hang out with my cousins. So maybe after a month of not seeing my dad (plus my uncle, aunt and younger cousin who live with him), I came up with an idea to still have Sunday lunch with them. Except I would eat outside on the steps while they stayed inside and we'd just talk through the plastic door. It sounds and looks crazy but it's worked out! They bring out a little table and chair for me, disinfect it, and I only approach once they go back in. And then we hang out and that bit of in-person human interaction has made all the difference. 

My growing work station aka dining table!
Now, I need to vent a little bit about work. In the beginning, I gave myself a hard 9-5 schedule to maintain a work-life balance. Then as the weeks went on, my work doubled, my number of meetings tripled and suddenly that line between work and life started to blur as I stayed "on" later and later to catch up. I'm reining that in again but I don't think ever I've been so stressed and tired of my job. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to be employed and for the stability it provides but I think my coworkers and I just exist on very different planes. On one hand, the company itself is trying to do right by its employees. They actually gave us 7 extra days off! But it's the people who are driving me crazy. I was on a call recently where someone was expressing excitement over the extra PTO and literally one response was, "And what are you going to do with those days? Go from one room to the other?" (@ssholes.) Or there's this expectation to be more readily available because we're just home anyway. Or my favorite--managers actually think having happy hours via Zoom are fun! Because obviously after staring at our computers for 8 hours, we want to stay on another extra hour to "hang out virtually" with people we've been in meetings with all day. I'd rather watching an extra episode of The Originals, thank you very much. 

I just keep wondering what's going to happen next or when things will feel somewhat normal again. I definitely thinking we'll be working from home for a while. And I 100% plan to take some days off. But maybe there will be more ways to creatively and safely hang out. One of my best friends suggested that maybe for my birthday next month (!), we could have a socially-distanced picnic at a nearby park. Or now that it's warmer, my family and I may try eating in the backyard and setting tables more than 6 feet apart while keeping our masks on. But it all depends on what these upcoming weeks will bring! 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  

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