My New Normal

In 2 days it will be 2 months since I have worked in the office. At the beginning of March our manager called us into the conference room and handed out key fobs so that we could work from home. I half listened as they went over the protocol and procedures because I didn’t believe it was going to happen. I thought they were just being precautionary. In the next couple days as the market took a nose dive and there was a sense of panic and confusion in the office I knew they were serious. I am usually a pretty calm person, but I started to feel anxious as there were so many unknowns.

I worked myself into such a frenzy that I started to feel sick. I got a scratchy throat and felt tired and so I called in sick when I normally would have gone in the office with these symptoms. But I was scared, did I have the virus? I stayed home and drank lots of tea and looked down my throat throughout the day. I am not a hypochondriac, but I was in full on panic mode. Plus I had recently moved to Los Angeles, and I have no family here. What if I got sick? There would be no one to help me. My mind couldn’t get the vision of me lying in my apartment alone with the virus, and no one coming to help because they didn’t want to get sick too.

Later that day, the office had a conference call that I dialed in to, and they announced that starting the next day we would be working from home. I sat and listened as my mind tried to comprehend what was happening. After the call I texted coworkers and asked, ‘are we not going into the office anymore?’ Of course that is what our manager had said, but I felt like I needed confirmation. ‘Yes’, they texted back, ‘we are working from home now’.

The next day I opened my laptop and began working from home. My phone from my office rang through to my cell phone, so to the clients it was seamless. But I noticed the clients wanted to chat longer, wanted to know how I was, wanted to tell me about their experiences. I was working, but at a different pace of checking in with people throughout the day. We were all asking how the other was coping. I had a group text with friends from work where we shared our experiences, and encouraged each other. Some people liked being home, others were finding it to be a hard adjustment, but either way we were all in the same boat. We bonded.

As the days went on I began a work out routine in the afternoon in order to fill my time after work. I could no longer have my hair done at the Drybar, so I decided to buy some deep conditioners at Walgreens and just let it be natural. My lash extensions slowly left my eyes, and I removed my acrylic nails after looking up instructions on youtube of how to do it. I stopped wearing make up, as there was no need, it was just me at home. My spray tan slowly faded, and there I was, totally exposed and natural. Hmmm, I wasn’t sure if I liked what I saw in the mirror.

My face looked naked and raw as it stared back at me. With no tan, lashes or make up I looked like a different person. I slowly started to adjust to my new look, and get used to just being me. Over the years I had slowly added layers of cosmetics to my routine. I don’t think I really analyzed whether I liked it or not. After a while, it just became a part of who I was. I had a schedule with all of my beauty people, and it was my life.

As each day passed, I started to get used to my face again. I wasn’t as tired looking. Before the pandemic every moment of my waking day was planned. Between working at my finance job, then working on my art, then meeting up with friends I would collapse into bed every night in exhaustion, only to get up at 5:00AM the next morning and do it all over again. But, I didn’t think of slowing down. I actually thought I wasn’t doing enough. But now looking at my relaxed make-up-less face I realize I was doing too much. I could not have kept up that pace indefinitely while also processing all the emotions of my recent divorce. It makes me curious what my life would look like now if the pandemic didn’t happen. Would I be completely burnt out?

We had a conference call yesterday at work, that we will slowly return to the office June 1st. But those that felt more comfortable working from home could come back later. Not everyone will go back at once. The thought of getting back to my old life gave me anxiety. I could feel my stomach jump at I listened. I have found a peace and a flow at home that energizes me, and I am actually more productive.

I have been a spiritual person my whole life, and I believe that everything happens for a reason. This pandemic that started in confusion and anxiety for me now seems like a gift from the universe. This pause gave me time to see myself again. It gave me time to feel emotions that I was avoiding and not worry about having to keep a brave front for people. It made me reevaluate where I am spending my time and money, and I know in the future I will be more intentional about it.

Also, I have also come to appreciate my family and friends more. I really do believe this has brought out the best in them as we all check in and comfort each other daily. Something we didn’t do on a regular basis before the pandemic. It has made me realize how short life really is, and how fragile. How everything can change in one moment. I started to reminisce about the trips my daughter and I have taken over the last couple of years. It made me happy that we had spent the money and time to have those moments as with the travel restrictions and the market tumble it may not be so easy in the future. It confirmed my belief that I have always had, and that is that life is about experiences.

I don’t know what life will be like after this pandemic subsides, none of us do. But I do know that it has changed me, and I will never be the same person inside. I will move forward with more of an appreciation for daily conveniences that I used to take for granted. I will be gentler and kinder, and not in such a rush all the time. I thank the universe for putting this obstacle in my life so that I can grow, and change, and be a better person.

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