What I learned after losing two years of my life in isolation…

What the COVID pandemic isolation has taught me. © Djordje Petrovic / Pexels

What the COVID pandemic isolation has taught me.

Can you remember when this craziness even started?

Do you recall what you were doing when you first heard the word COVID-19?

Do you remember your life before having to wear a mask every second of the day? Before you got brainwashed and numbed to it?

Let me tell you a little bit about me, so I can paint you a better picture of my life; maybe we can all learn something together.

I recall being at my desk, at a job that I hated. Surrounded by backstabbers; precursors of this “masked nonsense”, wearing a mask that was not made of cloth, hiding their real feelings behind fake smiles. You could read in their eyes that they were suffering, suffocating, forced to contract the muscles of their face upwards when meeting them in the hall or when you were interacting with them.

It felt hard to walk in those corridors, almost as if the air was filled with transparent gelatinous gunk, oozing from every pore of their sad souls impeding me to move, almost as if I was sinking in quicksand.

I recall almost every gaze of superiority; every moment when I was ignored; every instance where they made sure to make me feel inadequate; every piercing look at my breasts or my butt.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this distressed in your office? Behind cubicles too small to protect me, in a place that slowly sucked my life dry. Making me feel so useless and inept that even out of those four walls, those gazes still linger in my mind, that feeling of unworthiness dangling heavy on my soul.

I’ve been there for more than I can bear to admit to myself.

Thinking that life could not be worst; getting into my office with my spine curved just a bit more since the day before, ready for another useless day, something suddenly happens. The news announced on January 9th a mysterious Coronavirus-Related pneumonia in Wuhan, China. I didn’t expect my life to change; after all, it was in China. 

In my mind, I thought that they always get those kinds of weird diseases. I know that this may seem racist—this day and age everything is racist or offensive—but I associated this with all the other past diseases that broke out in markets and dirty places in China. My confidence in living in the “developed” part of the world offered me a small blanket of fake sense of safety, just like a toddler hiding in the middle of the room behind a napkin.

Fast forward just a few months and the situation did not calm down. The news continued to hammer on my fragile nerves the pending doom of the novel pandemic. With no one to look after and nobody that could look after me, I froze in my thoughts thinking what will happen if I get COVID-19? 

Like a heavy press, slowly but relentlessly getting closer to me, I relinquished all hope skipping all the five stages of grief to settle uncomfortably on acceptance. The acceptance that nothing could be changed. I was not a mother, not a wife, not a girlfriend, hell, I wasn’t even a booty call.

A few days later, the main office sends an email instructing all the non-essential workers to stay home.

I was unsettled by the feeling that the pending doom was less concerning to me than having to drag myself another day to that awful job; less dreadful than having to engage with those shark-teethed smiles. 

I was permeated by a feeling of renewal that for me was completely irrational, nonetheless, I felt relieved knowing that I would now be free of their oppressing atmosphere.

My first month at home

It was March when Doug Ford announced that all activities must stop and that we all were in a full lockdown. My first day waking up in my home was unreal. This was not a “weekend”, this was not a “vacation”; we were forced to stay at home. Many saw this as jail, imprisonment and started fighting against it. I was in complete bliss. 

I was forced to not interact with my colleagues anymore; I was kept home, safe, and forced not to be in the dreadful traffic. I could work at the pace that I decided. I would read the emails, add all my tasks on my sheet, sort them out by priority and importance, make myself a majestic cappuccino, and start working on them one at a time. This is bliss.

The company started to ask for video meetings, then to have the camera on at all times to have “faster interactions”, goes without saying that I refused to oblige to such requests. I felt that I was doing my job just fine and that this violation of my privacy was not needed, no matter how much they tried to coerce me into turning on my cam.

This situation did not last long at all, the president of the company called me to tell me that we needed to schedule a meeting at 5:00. I replied with kindness, and at 4:50 I was online, cam on, and ready for this quite unusual meeting. My guts were turning and I knew that something was wrong; the VIPs of the company would rarely stay past 4:00 pm, God forbid start a meeting an hour later.

The freshly acquired vice president of finance started off with something that looked like a performance review, informing me that my work was flawless and that they couldn’t be more pleased—that was the moment I knew that my time in the company was over. The president took over and with a fake sad face and tears (I only wish this was made up), he told me that they had to let me go. It seemed that a few members of the company couldn’t feel that I was part of the team. 

I knew exactly who was the culprit, and I wanted to shout out all they were doing in the company that would have most likely get them fired, but then I thought “Hey, this is none of your business, they are big, strong, and smart, they know how to run their business.” Plus they didn’t ask for my opinion so I just shut my mouth and nodded repeatedly.

After the crocodile tears were gone, we boiled down to the numbers.

I was just laid off; no job, no paycheck, no prospects, all during a pandemic. Strangely enough, I was fine—no wait let me rephrase that—I was ecstatic!

I was now at home, alone, far far away from fakers, haters, backstabbers, boob-starers, traffic, cold, shitty food, prepared meals—that cannot compete with a freshly cooked meal—and the toxic environment that was most likely going to affect my mental health and then my physical health as well.

What happened next…

I have to be honest, a few days later it hit me hard thinking that I had no income, while the expenses were quite scary when you add them all together.

I had to find myself something to do that would give me some sort of paycheck that could keep me afloat until the next job would come along.

I decide to not settle for anything less than “decent”. No more fakes, haters, backstabbers, and one point that I was not gonna let go so easily was quality of life.

NO, I’m not gonna tell you that I joined one of those idiots of the “six figures millionaire club” gurus—that I despise with all my guts—and became rich.

I started to work on myself. I worked on my resume, I created multiple versions that would fit the very thin niche for the job that I wanted, not the very first job that came along. It took me some time to get them just right.

I crafted a fairly good cover letter and I customized it to match every single job application. 

The frustration would come in waves, and each application process was meticulous, at a pace that I decided, registering to all the infinite backends, answering all the infinite questions over and over again. But that didn’t bother me because I was at my home.

More than a few months in this form-filling state of mind, I received a call from a company that I honestly don’t recall applying for. What caught my attention was near the end of the interview, when they asked me if I was willing to work from home. They made it clear that the decision was completely up to me if I got the job, and also that the decision didn’t have to be definitive, as the office was always open and that if I decided to work from the office the only problem was the access key.

I decided to stay home, but I told them that I would also like to meet the team, when and if I got the job.

Long story short, yes, I got the job and yes, I am still working from home…furthermore I am still in a state of complete bliss.

What I’ve learned?

This pandemic and all these lockdowns have taught me that I needed to look deep inside of myself to feel fulfilled or to solve the problems that are heavy on my soul. That an unfulfilling job, with horrible colleagues, is not what we should be enduring. I learned that we have insane internet speed and that all the people that work behind a screen can and should work remotely.

That you can do Yoga while working. That the absurdity of most of the deadlines that we put ourselves through is complete madness, and in one too many cases unnecessary.

That you can learn so much and reinvent yourself when you leave behind fears, naysayers, backstabbers, and surround yourself with calmness and search for that positive spark in your mind.

That roads should be left clear for people that need it, like truck drivers that need to deliver goods, for nurses and doctors that need to be in a hospital to give care to patients, and for all people that cannot work remotely.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter where I am or who my colleagues are, I will never let someone else decide my self-worth, and neither should you!

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