Being productive means different things to different people. And there’s nothing like a national lockdown to prove it.
When the world shut down, my social media feeds were filled with people doing everything from baking a metric ton of banana bread, deciding it was time to reach their fitness goals to becoming DIY enthusiasts.
Being the perpetual renter that I am, the DIY projects were a no-go and with any baking attempt I’ve ever made in the past resulting in something firmly inedible, I considered the fitness route. Truth be told that thought only came about a month into lockdown when I’d had my fill of eating off-brand Nutella out of the jar with a teaspoon and cooking oven chips then covering them with cheese as a second dinner/midnight snack. I started to go out for 5km runs and challenged myself to get faster each time – half motivated by the whole run 5km then donate £5 campaign – the other half just to keep me sane and from becoming a blob with legs.
Then I had an epiphany: I don’t actually give a shit how fast I can run 5km.
So, what else did I do with MY lockdown. I developed a habit of staying up until 4am bingeing movies and tv shows – I highly recommend The Last Kingdom, Alexander Dreymon has earned a firm place on my ‘list’. I had a few virtual dates, one of which resulted in a place in my top 3 worst hangovers of all time. I couldn’t eat anything but ice cubes for the whole of the next day. I became obsessed with saving money and budgeting because I concluded my outgoings would never be as low ever again.
With a little chunk of change to add to that pesky deposit for my own wee flat (can’t wait to share the obligatory key picture with you all in 2043), and a new love for home HIIT workouts, I emerged from lockdown ready to celebrate my 30th birthday. ln that time I also arranged and made the move back to Edinburgh to a lovely place with a new gal + dog.
Quite frankly I was feeling fabulous. Great place to live, wonderful job and amazing friends and family. I don’t think I could have felt more content on all of my three birthday celebrations – it being a 30th and the restrictions thanks to Covid – three was only right.
Then a few weeks later I hit a major low. I went through a phase where I was crying most days and felt utterly hideous and crappy about myself. No matter what my friends said, I actually stopped looking at myself in the mirror for a little while and avoided making eye contact with anyone I saw on the street. For a few brief moments I actually thought about the plastic surgery/procedures I could have that would magically change my life and the way I/others might see me. I felt overwhelmed by my sadness every day.
I was eventually able to recognise that depression combined with loneliness/more free time due to furlough, were the driving forces behind my negative thoughts. I decided to take some action and, knowing how much it recalibrates my brain and helps me to think clearly, I thoroughly chucked myself into working out. I also took myself off the dating app market.
There’s probably never been a worse time to let love potentially happen organically and I won’t rule out giving online dating another bash in the future. But for now at least, this feels right for me.
My only recent bad tales are:
1. For the first time in my life I experienced what I thought only really happened in movies: I was stood up. 10 minutes after he was supposed to meet me and a few texts saying he was running late at work, he stopped. I was left waiting in a wine bar at a table booked for two, receiving sympathetic glances from the waitress. I finished my glass of red, left and I heard from him once four days later to tell me – he couldn’t explain. [block, delete, move on] I’ve decided to chalk it up to a wee alien abduction and considering we never actually met, I did my best to not take it personally.
2. I agreed to a very casual Sunday walk/drink with a guy after a couple of days of speaking. However, I was a smidge hungover. That aside, I’m still certain this boy was determined to speak in the loudest voice he could for the entirety of the date. We got a table in a wee bar that was pretty quiet and continued chatting. So loud was his voice though, I was conscious that everyone A. knew we were on a first date B. Kept looking over.
So while he was enjoying a glass of red wine and screaming about different grapes, I nursed a hot chocolate and tried not to have a panic attack.
We didn’t see each other again but I hope he finds his loud, grape loving soul mate.
My decision to stop actively dating was almost 6 weeks ago and I’ve switched my focus to my fabulous friends, family, job and most importantly ME. Exercise has still played a huge role, I live right next to a park so nipping there to do a workout from Youtube and some sprints never fails to make me feel better. In case anyone is interested, Joe Wicks, Madfit, Popsugar and Sydney Cummings are my top picks at the moment. Added benefit is working out in the park is free (another win for the flat deposit).
I’m happy to report I feel much better and have regained some of my 30th birthday sass. I suppose I had a romantic notion I would maintain my birthday glow for the rest of the decade at least. The reality is I (like every other human being on the planet) will always have down days and with the absolute cluster fuck that is 2020, feeling a bit low sometimes is perfectly understandable.
Learning to love yourself is a continual process and while I’ve previously been quite focused on the physical aspects of that, one thing this year has taught me is that I want to improve my mind as well as my body.
I’m sure there were many novels written during lockdown, sadly mine wasn’t one of them. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of horror films: the zombie sub-genre in particular. I decided I’d quite like to write a novel about a zombie apocalypse set in Scotland. There’s more to it than that but I’ll keep it under wraps for now.
Having yet to write even one chapter of my work of fiction, I thought another good way to flex my brain muscles would be to join a book club. The first book is on its way to me and our first meeting (which will take place virtually) is due to happen at the beginning of November.
With international travel being out the window for now and my 2020 goal of seeing more of Scotland in mind, I’ve also organised a solo trip up to the tippy top of the country. Being the hopeless romantic I am, I held off organising trips like this because I felt like I had to wait until I was with someone.
Well, fuck that.
I’m so excited to have this time to see a part of the country I’ve never seen, drink whisky, go walking, eat great food, meet locals, tour castles and do exactly what I want to do.
If this year has taught us anything it’s that we never know what might happen and waiting to do things in hopes of the perfect moment/circumstance to do them in, is a wreckless waste of your time.
As ever, I’ve written this post for myself but if anyone reading it gains something from what I’ve said, whether that’s knowing you’re never alone in your mental health struggles, finding some workout material or simply laughing at me being on a loud hungover date.
Whether you believe the following right now, still have a way to go or are just going through a dip, try to remember:
You are enough, you are loved and you are valued.
Sending love to anyone who might need it.