Time anxiety and how I'm dealing with it
Updated: May 6, 2020
It's May. MAY. IT'S BLOODY MAY. Feels like only yesterday I was setting my new year's resolution for the year, which I've already broken by the way, and announcing that 2020 was going to be the year of all years. PA! What a joke that is now, right?
Right now, I should be in South East Asia living my very best life, with the very best tan of my life, making the very best memories of my life. Instead, I'm writing this sat at my very familiar desk, in my very familiar lounge wear, looking out at my very familiar surroundings. Not quite the 'life changing' year I had envisaged. I waited two years, give or take a few months, to go on my three month sabbatical abroad, every day edging closer to something I've always wanted to do - something I wanted to PROVE to myself I could do. But alas, along came corona and the rest is history.
I know I'm not the only one to have had their plans scuppered by the pandemic and expecting you to have pity for me really isn't the intention for this post (although a little 'awww' wouldn't go a miss...) In the grand scheme of things, I know it's not the end of the world, but it doesn't mean I'm not annoyed about the fact that everything hasn't quite gone to plan. As Rag and Bone man so accurately said, I'm only human, after all.
The thing I have been struggling with the most, especially as lockdown bleeds on and on, is feeling as though my life has been completely put on hold. Some colossal dickhead has gone and pushed that pause button on all our lives. I know I'm not alone in that way of thinking. It's the uncertainty of when things will go back to 'normal' and how long we have to keep going in this endurance test that has been thrust upon us. You can do a lot in a year and as the days roll on by, I can't help but feel like that's another day wasted, a day I'll never get back.
I have a very complicated relationship with time at the moment, as I am sure many of us do. Part of me wants these next few weeks to fly by so perhaps the restrictions will be eased a little and I can actually see my friends and family in some way (friends! Remember those?!?!) But then the other part of me is scared about the fact this year is flying by already (again, people, IT IS MAY) and it feels like it's a potential write off already.
I can't help but feel like I'm more of an observer to my life at the moment rather than an active participant.
I'm the type of person that likes to look back and reflect on what I've achieved, mainly so I feel I can justify treating myself to ANOTHER outfit...or two. All I have to show for myself so far this year is a new tik tok account, two balcony chairs and an indoor houseplant. Don't be too jealous, huns.
I think the closer I'm dragged towards the big 3-0, I am more conscious of time. Not that I'm one to completely conform to societal norms but we are expected to have achieved certain things by that point - I WANTED to achieve certain things by that point. But thanks to our bloody great new pal corona, I don't know if I will. My plans to go traveling have potentially been pushed back a whole twelve months which then has a knock on effect for everything else- getting a dog (BIG PRIORITY), buying a house, maybe even moving somewhere new. The vision for my life has been given quite the shake up.
Then, there is the other time related concern that I'm sure we've all fallen victim to at some point over the last six or seven weeks; the nagging feeling that we have to seize every day. Thank the LORD I don't have a 'carpe diem' sign in my house because that'd be right in the bin I'm telling you! Arguably, we don't know when or if we will ever have all this free time again, so I understand why it makes sense to take advantage of it. However, there almost seems to be this increasing guilt that if every day isn't the most productive day it could possibly be, we've failed. We have wasted a day.
So, all in all, I'm feeling a lil bit of pressure around the concept of time at the moment. Not exactly helpful when lockdown is inducing different levels of anxiety for all of us right now - and don't even get me started on how anxious I am going to Tesco now with their new one way system! WHEN DID FOOD SHOPPING BECOME SO STRESSFUL?!
The honest, and very obvious, truth is that we can't control time. If we could, I think the first thing we'd do is go back and make sure people weren't eating bats, right?! But, given I don't have that superpower, I have no choice but to figure out how I'm going to ease this lingering concern.
Get good at balancing
Now I don't mean in the literal sense, unless you intend to join the circus when this is all over. Balance is really important in life, especially at the moment. Yes, it's important to work hard and have a good work ethic, but it's just as important to take time to relax and do the things you enjoy doing, GUILT FREE. It really should be as close to a 50/50 split as it can possibly be, and this will be different for every person. I really don't see the point in us all running ourselves into the ground by ticking off the 350 things we've had on our to do list for a rainy day to then get out the other side of this and feel exhausted. This period, to me, is as much about resting as it is about getting a few bits and pieces done that you might not have had chance to do before. So, you binge watch that Netflix episode after work if that's what you need, hun.
Set realistic goals
When this whole lockdown palava started, I was terrible at this. I'd write myself daily to do lists (even at the weekend) and put FAR too many things on it and feel guilty for not getting them done by the end of the day. That meant that I couldn't actually enjoy the things that I usually could do because I could literally hear the clock ticking right down my ear hole (now I know how Captain Hook felt, although he really did deserve it!) So now, I set myself a maximum of three things to do every day. That way, I don't get so overwhelmed and I can actually enjoy and even be more productive when tackling my streamlined list.
We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others in some way. I know I do my fair share of comparing and sometimes I don't even realise I'm doing it. However, people's circumstances at the moment are very different. Some people have been furloughed and have a lot of time to fill; some people have sadly lost their jobs and are having to sacrifice the things they enjoy to get by; some people are taking on the role of full time carers and/or teachers whilst juggling a full or part time job. Everyone's circumstances are different and we don't really know what their life looks like unless we physically live it. So quit comparing yourself to other people. Yes, Rachel might have already smashed her 5k personal best (what a cow) and Jess might already be redecorating ANOTHER room in her house (show off), but you aren't them and your lifestyle, your commitments and your disposable income might be completely different to theirs.
The brutal truth is that we have no control over what's happening right now with regards to lost time and the pandemic. We can't stop time. We can't eradicate coronavirus. We can't get smashed with our mates at our favourite bottomless brunch venue. However, one thing we do know is that this will come to an end eventually, like all pandemics do. We have got no choice but to get through this and I think being realistic, being kind to ourselves and not expecting too much is the only way we are going to get through it. There is enough pressure on the world at the moment without us piling more onto ourselves, don't cha think?