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On New Year’s Eve of 2019, as I sat at home watching the ball drop in Times Square, along with millions of other viewers, I thought to myself: “This is going to be my year! 2020, you’re going to be my b*tch!”
A sentiment that was probably echoed by many. Fast-forward to March…we’re faced with a global pandemic, the number of deaths are staggering, we’re asked to quarantine, and everything is f*cked.
This was definitely not in anyone’s plans!
The past few months have given me anxiety, insomnia, a few extra pounds, and much food for thought. I’ve spent countless hours glued to my laptop, reading, researching, just trying to make sense of it all, and watching helplessly as the death toll continues to rise. The people we once took for granted have become the superheroes and warriors of this pandemic, while the rest of us mere mortals sit at home in our pajamas, unwashed hair sitting atop our heads in a bun, while we attempt to homeschool our kids, and spend our evenings sucking on copious amounts of alcohol through a Twizzler, eating everything in sight, while binging on multiple Netflix series at once—or maybe that’s just me.
My emotions during this quarantine can be compared to a roller coaster ride…one that serves alcohol and plays Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” on a loop. Even during this period of stasis, it still feels as though the world is spinning uncontrollably, and I’m trying to grab hold of anything in order to steady myself.
Maybe it’s because we’re faced with the unknown, and our lives may potentially be at risk, but after weeks of thinking, oversleeping, cooking, thinking, baking, thinking, drinking, eating, eating, eating…have I mentioned eating? Something inside me shifted, creating a need to reevaluate my entire life, and change direction.
People are all over social media complaining about stuff that is meaningless, like their hair needing coloring or cutting; meanwhile, over three hundred thousand people have lost their lives. Perspective. People are losing loved ones, some don’t get to say goodbye; they’re left to die alone in a hospital bed, they’re not being given a proper burial, and we’re over here worrying about our hair? I think I can go a few months without coloring my hair, or if it’s that big a deal, I can dye my own roots.
Through all that has happened, and is still happening, I came to the conclusion that for me, “simplicity” is the way to go. Whether it’s in life, love, or career. Be with someone who doesn’t constantly stress you out but instead calms you; have a career that you love, so even when there’s much work involved, it won’t feel like work; and live a life that is free of complications, keep it low-maintenance.
This pandemic has brought our culture of entitlement, materialism, and immediate gratification to its knees; yet, some still don’t get it, and their lack of empathy toward others is appalling.
All of this has pushed me toward wanting a life that is more streamlined, simple, grounded, and in harmony with nature. I no longer wish to spend time on superficialities, complications, drama, or stress-filled situations, nor the people who embody such character traits. Nope. Done.
In the midst of this newly found revelation, I paused and thought to myself, “I can’t be the only one thinking about changing things in their life at a time like this,” so I posed the following questions to friends:
1) Faced with this virus, we’ve all had some time to think about our lives, where we are currently, what matters, etc. What has this whole experience taught you, or made you realize?
2) Looking back on your life, do you feel you’ve missed out on something? Is there something you always wanted to do, but didn’t do? Whether it was a career? A once in a lifetime missed opportunity? Risks not taken? Unrequited love?
You know that thing that still lingers at the back of your mind? The one that whenever you’re alone, enjoying some quiet time—probably in the dark or outside on your deck, along with a glass of whatever, or when you’re lying in bed, and you can’t sleep, where do your thoughts travel? What are you going to do about it if anything?”
I received many responses. Many were filled with regret, and ran the gamut from making the wrong career choice, to never taking risks, or finishing that degree, not going back to work after the kids were older, not traveling enough, staying in a miserable marriage for the kids, letting “the one” get away, not leaving their hometown when a tempting job offer showed up, and more.
These responses saddened me, because it seems that so many of us held back on our lives and our dreams out of a need to please others, not rock the boat, or do what was expected of us, i.e. “the right thing”—but right for whom?
When pressed further on whether or not they want to change their current circumstances, the reverberating responses were: “Maybe, it’s too late; I’m too old; I can’t change; I’m too scared; what if it doesn’t work out?” Or just simply put, “No.”
In reality, we’re not too old, and it’s not too late to start over or try something new.
Although many lamented their current “positions” in life, not many were inclined to take the necessary steps, meaning, do the work necessary in order to change their life.
I can fully understand and empathize with everyone’s point of view, and yes, leaving a “comfort zone” is not an easy thing to do, especially when one has spent the last 20-25 years in the exact same place. Just the prospect of change can be overwhelming and downright frightening.
Some stated that they’d like to do x, y, or z, but can’t afford to do so at this time. Others were in the middle of taking steps to change their life just as this pandemic hit. And a few prefer their cocoons of security, thus refusing to see any potential that may come from change.
Change can be hard, messy, and painful, and at times, it can blow up in your face. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Sometimes we have to be “uncomfortable” for a little while in order to get to a more satisfying place in our life.
I truly believe that the point of life is to explore our full potential as human beings, because nothing wonderful ever came from a comfort zone.
Yes, we all have bills to pay, but we also have just one life to live, so do the thing that you want to do, and don’t let fear stop you.