On the first page of my 2020 planner, when I wrote “lifestyle change”, I did not know it would have a new meaning: being stuck at my small bedroom/home office every day for the next seven-or-so months. An unexpected adventure for everybody.
End of shift office banters changed into virtual huddles with outlined agendas and minutes. Extracurricular school organizations, once a place for students to vent out, became virtual morning sessions sans the fan of youth. Thursday coffee nights became self-made experimental coffee every day for a week. Friday night drinks with friends became e-numan or virtual catch-ups. Early Saturday mornings turn into Netflix binge watching, while Sunday movie time with family became alone time watching TikTok videos until 3am. Mall shopping became monthly visits to E-commerce platforms or virtual marketplaces, and other online shopping apps. Mondays were not exhausting anymore, and Friday feels, officially gone.
We still survive despite all these things happening to and around us, but we may have forgotten and overlooked one thing: as human beings, we need authentic interaction and intuition. One of the ways to still achieve these, even with all the current predicaments we all go through now, is through introspection.
Family life in this online school and work-from-home… thing
With work-from-home (WFH) schemes implemented by employers as far as practicable, with schools reinventing education and remotely teaching, while the healthcare workers battle the deadly virus, it is inevitable that we go to work in our makeshift home offices dialing in meetings, joining webinars and attending online classes.
Work-from-home still means no escape from doing family chores, like cooking dinner and doing the dishes for your family, while scheduling a meeting at 6pm. There is no excuse to not take out the garbage for disposal on an early Thursday morning, even if you spent the previous night doing overnight work. Your mother would also request you to do the laundry today because it is a sunny day and the La Nina phenomenon is waving at you. Your clingy aunt living abroad would schedule a midweek Zoom call requiring everyone to attend. The responsibility of being in a family and having a house deplete your social energy, even during this time of social distancing.
Take a break if you must and if you can. Acknowledge your human limits, that you cannot attend this virtual meeting because you must visit the dentist. Take that vacation leave or sick leave whenever you feel sick or exhausted. Ask your family to have food delivered in the meantime instead of you cooking for them. It would be convenient for you and you also help with the economy.
Return to yourself. You do not have to make yourself available and commit to everyone all the time. There is a chance that you are taking your personal time away.
A car cannot run on an empty tank. A car needs the tank to be full again to transverse seamlessly.
Faring the friendships
No more Friday night-outs, no more errands day with the most trusted friend, no more spontaneous shopping dates with your friend group, no more lunchtime get-togethers with a friend from another company or school. The mom-friend now organizes virtual life updates instead of your Japan trip you have been planning. You may have also gained a quarantine friend: the friend you virtually do yoga with, get food recipes from, or updates you on the latest promos in shopping apps. Be thankful for these types of friendships, the ones that stay and find no matter what because these lasts. Be thankful to have love from your friends and peers, and cherish whatever moment, be it virtual, you have with them. Respect their times away from you, for they are not at your disposal. They live a life totally different from you. Trust that rest and recovery time away, in order to maintain the friendship and relationship you have with them.
While some may have cut you off during this pandemic, understand that they are not obliged to explain. Much like love, learn that people cut you off not because of you, but maybe their time with you may be over. This does not make you less of a person. This does not diminish your value. Time spent with them was not time wasted. Just learn from what you had.
Always remember, love your self first before loving your family and friends. Take care of yourself before you take care of others.
A love lost, a love found, and a love that stayed
Some couples have thrived in this pandemic, while some have been on each other’s throats. Some became stronger while some separated. And then there is you, still single despite the pandemic.
You are not inadequate even if you lost a love in the middle of a pandemic. Each person deals and copes up differently in these times. They might have chosen a different path, and it is alright if you are not welcome. Perhaps, the love you gave was insufficient for them, but that does not make you wrong, invalid or insufficient. You are not responsible for their actions with the valid love you gave. Do not question what you may or may not have done to save the relationship. Learn from what happened and use that to capitalize on your growth as a person. The right person will come when you are ready.
To you who found love during the pandemic, I wish it can happen to everyone. Others say this is the pandemic blues speaking, or this is just a quaranfling (quarantine fling). Because you found someone online, and have not met them in person yet because of safety measures; or because you may have rekindled lost love does not mean your feelings and thoughts are any less valid. What you are feeling is valid and how you go off to people is how you deal with your feelings. Do not revolve your world around this person, your world is yours to own. You are not someone’s sun-and-moon. You are a full moon by yourself. Before them, you come first.
To you whose love stayed at this time of quarantine: stay strong. During this time, too many people have lost their loved ones because of emotional and physical reasons. May you be an example for the rest of us, hopeless romantics, to find the love we deserve, the love that will stay when these quarantine restrictions are over. May you be an example that even with another person by your midst, you are still a whole person by yourself. If that love fades, it is not the end of the world, just the start of a new one.
Finding romantic love is not a requirement, but it seems to have more gravity nowadays because of our need for assurance in these unprecedented times. We are not getting younger anymore, just put yourself out there. Draw a line between that person and you. You do not need to depend on them. Co-exist and be co-independent.
With everything that is happening in the world right now, come home to yourself. As we gear towards the new normal, new world living, with or without a deadly virus, now is time to acknowledge your weak points and how to improve them, to acknowledge your humanity and frailty, to remember how you love others, to accept defeat when you have to, to create a relationship with yourself, and most importantly, self-love. Love yourself first before others. That is the beauty of introspection. From there, let us start building a new normal, a new world. (Mr. Ramas is a semi-senior of the Tax Advisory and Compliance Division of P&A Grant Thornton Cebu Branch. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 24 partners and more than 900 staff members. Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 12 November 2020