As you can tell from the name of this blog, I’m very aware of the unexpected paths life takes us on.
Most of these unexpected twists and turns are unwelcome and present issues, as well, you didn’t see them coming. Some unexpected events, of course are good, wonderful even. Marriage, babas, doggos you know.
At the moment we all find ourselves in a very unexpected situation.
We can’t leave our homes for three weeks, due to COVID-19, a virus that is spreading faster than the toilet paper is selling off the shelves.
And, it happened so fast. It spread quickly, we acted (debatably) quickly, and now for the foreseeable future we have to protect our own health and safety and that of others by staying indoors.
Become hobbits essentially, but without the hairy feet (I hope) and with a daily walk. It’s terrifying and an anxious situation for many in regards to their finances, jobs, homes, relationships, family members and health.
But there’s lots of positives in this situation too.
Those of us that can work from home or have been temporarily lost a job, find ourselves at home with our loved ones to reflect on how we’re doing and more important what we’re doing.
We have been given a brief break in the never ending fast pace of life to pause and reflect on what’s important. An unexpected event often reminds us of what we truly value. What makes us happy.
It’s not always easy and for some this period will be incredibly isolating and lonely, so I thought I’d share my advice for how to find the adventure in the unexpected.
While it doesn’t seem like it right now, this unexpected twist in our lives will lead us to new opportunities, new beliefs and actions that will change our lives or our personalities potentially forever.
Focus on what you do have.
With the restrictions at the moment as with the loss of a loved one, there is a great feeling of what we’re without.
It could be a person we cherish or it could be as small and as trivial as fresh milk. But it doesn’t make us feel any better to think about what we’ve lost.
Focus on what you do have right now. I have my Mum and brother, a comfy bed, a laptop and phone to stay connected to my friends and colleagues, cupboards with food in, wonderful people I can call on anytime, two mad dogs and a pile of books that I’m working my way through.
I also am very grateful to have a home gym (part of our garage had been converted a few years ago), my health and creativity to fashion new ways to entertain myself.
You can’t do what you normally do, or maybe you still can, but feel anxious with everything going on outside your door.
It’s time to get creative with how you deal with it and how you fill your time. Just because you have all this additional time without your commute or without your 9-5 job perhaps, doesn’t mean you have to fill it solely with fear. You can enjoy yourself at home and do things that make you happy – you just may have to be more creative with it.
FT friends with a drink rather than go to the pub, join an interactive quiz, pick up an instrument, rearrange your bedroom, cook your favourite meal, paint something, take photos, watch a film you’ve longed to watch (get snuggled up with blankets, candles on an all).
Don’t just do something for the sake of it.
You don’t have to do anything during this time that you don’t want to do. Obviously you have to stay indoors that is non-negotiable kids, but if you want to spend your time watching Netflix 24/7 as that’s what you really want to do, then do it. Nobody’s gonna know.
Unless people can look into your windows, but just shut the curtains eh?
Don’t want to get dressed, don’t bother. Don’t feel like wearing make up, good for you.
This is one of the rare opportunities in life where you can do whatever you like and nobody is really going to know. Obviously don’t be a dick as everyone finds out about that, if you’re wfh then wfh people, but you don’t have to get dressed, and do a million things around the house or learn a new skill or finish several projects for the sake of it.
Only do things that make you happy. You do you peaches.
Lean on people.
Obvs not in real life as keep two meters apart people!
Call your friends or family, take their support, catch up. There’s no need to face self-isolation alone.
It’s an uncertain period of time without an end date on it, so try to form a new way of staying in touch with your loved ones to stay connected with them all. We really are all in this together.
Keep an eye on the small things.
Everyone knows it’s the little things that really count. That message, that card, that hug.
While you might be stressed or anxious at the moment, try to focus on the small things around you; the sun streaming through your window, your dog falling asleep upside down, how cosy your toes feel in fresh socks without holes in them. It will relax you enough to get through day to day life, as you’ll be distracted by normality.
It is a scary and unexpected event, but so many of us are incredibly fortunate that it doesn’t effect our day to day life that much.
We don’t face the symptoms or deaths or relentless battles in hospitals, we’re sat in the comforts of our own homes with a cup of tea. Appreciate that. It’ll get you through this new way of living.
Cherish this time if you are one of the lucky ones at home with your kids or partner, this is a rare opportunity to create wonderful memories inside your own home. How often does that happen?
Trust that you’re moving out of the darkness to the light.
This is true of all unexpected negative events such as a death, diagnosis, redundancy, miscarriage, divorce, break-up, losing your house etc. It won’t feel like it at the time and probably not straight after either, but you will go onto a happy, bright adventure again.
Life doesn’t stop when bad things happen. Thankfully, it continues on and we gain more memories, experiences and values moving away from that place and time to somewhere new. It won’t be the same as before, but it’ll be a path with new opportunities that we only have now because of the knowledge we gained from the unexpected occurrence.
Over time our perception shifts, our experiences don’t leave us or get any smaller, but they’re surrounded by new experiences on the canvas of our life that make us feel brighter, lighter and hopeful again.
I’m sure you had a time in your life when you thought there was no way out, no way to improve your current state of hopelessness and then in time it got better or lighter. It’s true of this situation too, by staying at home we’re all moving towards flattening the curve and finding the light at the end of the tunnel with preventing the spread of this virus.
Read fiction before bed.
Somehow reading fiction before bed allows it to seep into your thoughts and dreams and is a very relaxing tool for getting off to a restful sleep. It’ll help to switch off from reality for a moment to find some peace when there’s war waging outside with a biological enemy.
Just go with it
You might be a go-getter well on your way to doing something you really thought you wanted to do and during this extra thinking time, you might find you have other inklings for different professions, outlets or interests. Go with it. Often in unexpected events, we find clarity of what we do want and value in life. It can be simple or it can be more complicated.
After losing my Dad, I wanted to be able to provide escapism to myself and others through writing film and fiction because that’s what got me through. I realised the value and luck I had in having my family, who double as great friends and provided endless support and guidance for me. Try not to overthink what new positive things you’re drawn to at this time and see where it leads you.
So much is also out of our control at this point, so if your employer, family, friends asks something different of you, or even drops you completely, just go with it as sadly there’s nothing we can do to prevent the measures that are being taken to stop the spread of the virus.
Yes it’s impacting all aspects of our life, but we have to go with the precautions and roll with the changes that each day brings as that’s the way we’re going to save our NHS, save lives and come out the other side of it.
It may be difficult for you right now and if you need someone to talk to, reach out and don’t face it alone. But we will get through this, we just have to be good hobbits and sit in our armchairs until this blows over.
Unexpected events cause anxiety and loneliness, but there are always positives if you embrace your sense of adventure.