The year the world stopped, restarted, stopped…
The year so many were affected by the virus directly or indirectly
The year we couldn’t travel, see our friends and family or hug.
The year we had to learn new ways to interact whilst attempting to keep sane.
When I celebrated the end of one decade and the start of another on New Year’s Eve 2019 I, like many others, reflected on what the last 10 years had brought me and thought a little about where the next 10 may take me.
Pretty sure no one thought this would happen. I probabaly wasn’t the only one that thought it would just blow over, die off and we would be back to normal quickly.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Like many others that live and work abroad, my first thought in early March was, I think I need to get home. I was scared if the borders closed I would be stuck feeling very alone, and feeling very much the 2000 miles away from home and my partner that I am, and wishing I was there.
I hurriedly packed up some things thinking I would likely just be a few weeks in the UK and not the nearly 5 months that it ended up being.
Within a week of being back the UK was in lockdown. Everything was restricted and everyone was told to stay home and stay safe. Suddenly all those virus related disaster movies seemed a little more real. The virus and it’s impact seemed more real.
Despite all the surrealness of the situation, the tears, the worry, wondering if I will ever get back to Norway again, lockdown has also brought a lot of joy, productivity and optimism.
I’ve had time to learn about me, that it’s ok to get up and walk away from your computer and take time for you. That it is absolutely ok to not sit on BBC news each day and depress myself about the state of our country and the situation and more importantly that I shouldn’t beat myself up about stuff I can’t control.
I’ve learnt it’s ok if things don’t happen immediately (even when I want them to) and that despite everything, quite frankly, there are often far more important things to worry about than if I can get any dried pasta that day or not.
I’m being flippant I realise but it’s TRUE in so many ways we get so hung up on small things that we can miss the bigger picture.
I have learnt to embrace life as it comes. Worrying about the future is something we have all done, and something I promised myself I would not do again, but it is so easy to fall into that when stuck in a challenging situation. Yet it is so exhausting too.
At the same time lockdown brings with it not just the fear and sadness but the loss of social interaction. Other than delivery drivers I didn’t see anyone else other than my boyfriend, and the locals also doing the same route around the field every day, for at least 3 months…except virtually.
Being alone with your thoughts, your vulnerabilities, can make you feel even more isolated than before so I wrote my thoughts down and I picked up the phone and I joined in the zooms and I interacted with my family, friends and the MRKH community.
In a community as large as ours there are other ways to connect and share and lockdown it has brought the community together to provide support, friendship and comfort in a way not really done before. In turn highlighting the value of online tools as a resource, pandemic or not.
Lockdown has given us time to work on the Charity, our website and social media. It’s given me the chance to ‘meet’ people I have spoken to for years and never really thought to pick up the phone to chat to, as well as meeting new faces and finding a connection and opportunity. Supporting each other. What an empowered and strong community we have that I am so proud to be part of.
It has brought with it joy and fun and laughter through crazy lockdown initiatives that have had us gin tasting, gin blogging, bread making, virtual afternoon tea-ing, food exploring, cocktail making, workshopping, online board gaming and pub quizzing.
Working from home has been productive and the lack of commute (even though it wasn’t long) has given more time for me and the things I enjoy. I know people enjoy office time, and certainly for my company this is very important, but the flexibility of working at home and in another country was so welcomed and something I am so grateful for the chance to do.
I have run more, home exercised more (thanks YouTube) and spent quality time with my boyfriend who I usually only see on weekend trips back to the UK and extended holidays.
I long for the days of proper hugs again. For meet ups that can be spontaneous rather than requiring booking just to have a beer in the pub and to travel again for real rather than just dream about it. But maybe even more so, I hope us as a society can learn from this whole situation and make improvements to all our communities in a positive way.
I travelled back to Norway 2 weeks ago as restrictions had eased and travel was more possible. I think it will be a while before I travel as flexibly and often as I did before but the main thing is I am safe, happy and my partner is with me.
We will always have ways to connect and whilst it is not the same it has never been easier to do.
Some day we will describe this time to the next generation and I feel fairly sure they won’t believe it actually happened.
But it did.
We are living a new ‘normal’ and we may never get exactly back to how it was before. Whilst I know our situations vary drastically both personally and in different countries it may not necessarily be a bad thing if they don’t. I am grateful for this weird crazy surreal time in so many ways and learning the balance of work, connecting and time for me yet can’t wait for the time we all can feel a little less restricted and confined and overall safer.
Love to all in these ever difficult and continuously changing times