My life has radically changed since the last time I wrote. I’ve moved cities, bought a house and also changed jobs. Kind of crazy that it all ended up happening at the same time. It was definitely a lot of stress but now I am starting to enjoy the rewards of having made those changes.
The cities thing was always going to happen. London will always hold a special place in my heart and memories, but it was never the place to stay long term. Every location has a rhythm, a pace and London’s is just a bit too fast to sustain long term. It’s wonderful to visit though and I thoroughly intend to do so regularly to see friends and for work.
Moving to Bristol has been a great change so far. It’s just such a more relaxed place without having the sacrifice the fun things that we love about a city. It’s also allowed us to buy a cute little house which is something that would’ve never been an option in London. Well, not never been, but certainly would have to work a lot lot harder in order to be able to afford a house.
That part has been hard to get my head around. Having lived in London for so long, owning property was something that I had labelled in my mind as something that was unattainable (certainly to buy an actual house and by myself). So to actually do so is hard to wrap my head around. The living part is easy, our house is great and we’ve been able to decorate it into a lovely place to live. But it’s the understanding and realisation that I now own a house and have a mortgage, with a lovely man who I’ve been dating for a short two years with. My brain just goes “riiight… As if that’s happened”.
And then to top it all off, I managed to leave a job which I was constantly feeling overwhelmed and stressed and joined a company that I would’ve never thought I would be able to get a job at. I have only recently started so it’s early days but so far it’s been a real 180 in pace and I can see lots of potential in things I can do and achieve here which is exciting. Adjusting to a lower pace has been hard so far. I don’t think I’ve realised how wound up I’ve been by my last job and how that has lasted longer than I think it has. However I think it makes for a healthier long term. No one can feasibly sustain working under constant stress with a huge workload for an indefinite amount of time. And I look forward to acclimatising back to a slower, more varied pace in work.
Overall there’s been a lot of new starts and lots of changes. Reflecting on it now, it’s been a long time coming for that change of pace but at the end, I’m grateful for everything that enabled me to make those changes and choices, luck goes a long way but also allowing myself to take those steps which can be scary. Something to definitely look back and be proud of.
It’s six weeks into the new year and it’s been pretty eventful so far (despite a national lockdown). I’ve managed to break my ankle, catch covid, lock myself out of the flat (on crutches) and also had the water supply temporarily cut off without warning. But all in all, I feel pretty good.
I think in some ways, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have felt so all encompassing in their isolation and how much they affect you, that more trivial or common mishaps in some ways breaks that doom and gloom feeling. Shit still happens. Life still happens, it’s just a little subdued right now.
Crazy to think we’re fast approaching one full year since I started working from home. Trying to remember how it felt back at that time, it felt like such a bizarre occurrence. There was such disbelief from friends, loved ones and also myself that it would last any longer than 4-6 months tops. And how we’ve all learnt since.
We’ve taken a lot from 2020 in terms of teachings, although definitely more of the tough love vein. My hope for 2021 is that we end this year having been able to implement those learnings and grow positively.
At the end of a year, it’s natural to do some reflecting on the year past. Particularly what with time off work for the holidays, it’s natural to start thinking with more time on your hands. Having just watched Death to 2020, it just really hammered in what a bizarre year it’s been. With the Hong Kong security law, Brexit, the Beirut explosion, a new intensity of wildfires due to climate change, the trash TV show that’s been American politics, ending with a big finale of the election all drawn out to the overture of covid and all its complexities… It’s hard not to have felt fatigued from reading the news this year. Opening a news site became associated with an ominous feeling of dread “what new development awaits us now?”. And that’s all stuff on the global news cycle that I have no control over. In fact the main mental health implication is how those breaking news stories bled over and impacted personal life. Not just mine, but everybody across the globe. It’s hard to imagine another development positive or negative that has simultaneously affected everyone globally.
Personally I’m doing well which I recognise and am very grateful for. My partner and I are both working for companies that have not only survived but had very good years despite covid so our jobs are stable. In fact, my job has been incredibly stressful and busy since August which brought on its own issues. I work in an industry which has historically been vulnerable to budget cuts so my company has been cautious in spend (i.e. hiring people), and being in a world situation where job losses was at an all time high it meant you had to just suck it up and pull in the intense and long hours in order to meet client demands. Which has sucked. My mental and physical health has suffered for it. It’s scary to think that I am still considered one of the lucky ones and I do still think that.
Mental health wise, being in London has been incredibly tricky. It’s so easy to feel stuck, London has always had its own centre of gravity that made it difficult to leave, but now public transport was made to be something to fear, it meant you couldn’t travel 45 mins to get to the other side of the city to do that thing you wanted to like go to a restaurant or a climbing wall. With restrictions changing on a weekly sometimes daily basis like the menu of a bougie hipster cafe or restaurant, just flip flopping between being stuck indoors and being able to go out and see friends, it’s been really hard to adjust and get through it. You’re having to adjust every two seconds with very little consistency. The loss of control and ability to actualise what I want to do is the thing I struggle with the most. It will be interesting to see what the mental health implications of this will be. You don’t have to have had covid to be affected by the pandemic.
With vaccines being approved one by one, and distribution starting, I know the start of 2021 won’t look much different from the end of 2020 – I don’t think we’re under any illusions there. But I do fervently hope along with the whole world that we can reach a point where this becomes manageable. Covid isn’t going away miraculously, no matter what outgoing idiotic world leaders say so. It may mutate out of existence (which is random and small in chance), but likelihood is that it will continue to exist and infect people so if we can get to a point where there are protocols to manage it like smallpox, we might be able to get back to some semblance of life before. Where we were able to go about our lives without having to worry about an invisible enemy.