A new normal | Adjusting to life after Lockdown

I often reach a point where I’ll look around my room to the piles of clothes draped over my chair in a kind of ‘clothing purgatory’ not dirty enough for the washing machine nor clean enough for my wardrobe, or to the empty packages I’ve left in a pile intended for use in case I decide to send that item back- that I actually never will because I kept forgetting to schedule a pick-up or go out to the post office to return. I’ll look at the new books I’ve bought sitting in a neat little pile on the only current available surface because they won’t fit on my already crammed bookshelf or I’ll look to the stack of packaging too pretty to throw away but in reality, is actually just sat there gathering dust and I’ll realise that I can no longer go on watching the endless piles of stuff just build up and build up, each item scattered in random places around my room with no order or organisation in place which then leads me to do a very thorough but very necessary clear out, a process that I find not only lets me physically sort my shit out but also mentally too. 

In a similar way over the past few months since writing 'Thoughts, feelings and emotions from a Cancerian in lockdown' I’ve felt as though I’ve had many thoughts and feelings that have built up, each time I’ve sat down to write a post about how I’ve been feeling post lockdown I found myself waking up to another alarm, another ‘oh shit I’m running late’ or ‘sorry it’s taken so long for me to reply’ message that needs to be sent or errand to run, each one a call for ‘normal’, whatever normal is any more. So essentially this post is for me as much as it is for you, an opportunity to have a little bit of a mental clear-out and lay out what has been in my mind the past few months as well as fill you in on a few shall we say mid-year updates. 

"Each time I’ve sat down to write a post about how I’ve been feeling post lockdown I found myself waking up to another alarm, another ‘oh shit I’m running late’ or ‘sorry it’s taken so long for me to reply’ message that needs to be sent or errand to run, each one a call for ‘normal’, whatever normal is any more."

The transition from lockdown to having to adapt to this idea of a new normal I knew would be hard, for me at least. I’ve spoken previously about time spent out of a job after graduation and my struggles with that so having been in a similar ‘lockdown’ situation during the exact same time last year it’s safe to say it’s been tough. Obviously, I’m not disputing that this global pandemic has been awful and has affected and still is affecting people in some way or another but I feel for a lot of us, understandably our lives were effectively halted for at least 3 whole months, again something that couldn’t be helped and was for our own safety as well as others but being at home so much just ironically bought home how much hasn’t changed for me in a year. I have a job now, of course, that's changed since last year but I’m in no way near where I want to be, so sitting at home day in day out felt at times like Groundhog Day. 

In some ways however at times, it felt, reassuring, something that after having previously spoken to friends was a reoccurring theme due to the fact that whilst being in this situation not just mine, but everyone’s lives were collectively on holt. I spoke previously in my post 'An Honest report on not having a clue what to do with your life' about the feeling of being on this ongoing journey, watching people arrive at their destination whilst I continued on when instead this felt like we were all on that journey riding it out together whilst we all tried to make the best of a bad situation. For many during lockdown that meant taking a break, workingon themselves, taking things that little bit slower, for others that meant catching up on things they’d previously neglected, an endeavour they’d always wanted to explore or hobby they wanted to take up. Naturally, me being me, I struggled to strike a balance of the two. Constantly toing and throwing between taking a mental break or forcing myself into this ‘must get myself organised, work mode mentality’. Which I did to some extent but days spent being busy felt as though I should be taking a break and days spent taking that break made me feel lazy but alas welcome to another day in my mind.

Again something that has felt like a movement for a lot of people is taking the time this year to realise the things they’ve always wanted to do, the passions they postponed or never got round to pursuing, for many that was a TikTok career (just kidding, kinda) but for most, it was an opportunity to pick up where they left off or a chance to really get that ball rolling. Which found me circling back to photography, a skill shall we say I keep coming back to every time I think about what I really love, what I enjoy doing and essentially what I could continue to see myself doing. Of course, deciding that whilst in a time where social distancing and face masks were put in place wasn't ideal so that meant working a lot on shoots I want to do in the near future or work I'd previously created that wasn't up on my portfolio website or edited as well as I'd have liked it to have been but the overall decision to make progress with an ambition of mine, feels good and at times it feels doable, but it's something that I know I have to have a lot of faith and confidence in myself to do but are you even a creative if you don't have some form of hatred towards your own work, or is that just me? Either way creating some sort of motion in the ocean has been good for me, as has continuing to work on my online zine. Something that I had 3 months to work on and inevitably left most of the work until the point of release, again welcome to another day in my mind, leaving things till last minute is a daily occurrence here. Still, about 2 weeks ago now I managed to launched Issue 3 of Everytime Zine, an issue still ongoing if anyone fancies a peek at what I'm on about. It's certainly got it's fair share of challenges, it can be real hard work, for me to do alone but it's a project that in the end has me bursting with pride forall the incredible creators involved, it's rewarding I can tell you that much. For me, for a long time now it's been about taking the bad with the good, finding time for my own endeavours, enjoying the hobbies I have outside of a mundane 9-5, I find solace in that but I'd be lying if I said returning to life after lockdown hasn't begun to feel quite lonely again, watching everyone slowly but surely go back to their 'normal' lives, finding myself right back on that journey again watching everyone safely arrive at their destination whilst I await my arrival.

"I'd be lying if I said returning to life after lockdown hasn't begun to feel quite lonely again, watching everyone slowly but surely go back to their 'normal' lives, finding myself right back on that journey again watching everyone safely arrive at their destination whilst I await my arrival."

This transition has been all that harder due to the passing of my cat Misty, a cat whom for 14 years of my life felt like so much more than that to me, he was quite literally my best friend, my shadow. He was there by my side 24/7, honestly, quite literally for a large sum of that time, watching me as I went about my day, doing a workout, making a coffee, getting ready for work, doing my makeup or spending a day under the sun in the garden. He watched me navigate my way through my teens, doors slams, tears and tantrums in tow. He kept me company whilst I endured stressful all-nighters whilst I was at uni, hungover or poorly days spent in bed. He was even introduced to Jay during that time, someone who Misty very happily came to accept pretty early on in the form of politely sitting behind Jay and wrapping his tail ever so gently around Jay's neck in a loving and caring but sort of threatening way. Throughout everything, I was convinced that Misty always would be there for me for more moments like that to come. However, that inner thought buried deep inside that a day will come where I’d have to say an everlasting goodbye to him, of course, never made it any easier. Losing him has felt like the impact of losing a limb, an irreplaceable hole in my heart, not to mention the devastation it’s left in the house. Life without him certainly has been easy for us by any means. 

 Misty arrived in the afternoon of a day I was at primary school on my sister's bed. A birth of my first and beloved cat Willow, the birth of 3 kittens, 3 kittens that were intended to be given to hopeful cat owners and yet whilst visitors came to see the kittensin the hope to give them a new and loving home Misty had already been claimed as our own. From then I always believed that Misty was ours for a reason. A few months prior to saying goodbye to Misty he sat on my chest a position he often assumed whilst trying to get as physically close to me as he could, I told Jay that to have him a part of my life has always been incredibly important and that having been able to watch this transition from a gorgeous grey furry little baby to become this charming, incredibly endearing little man, in the same way, he was able to watch me grow from a young naive and lost little girl to a still lost but grown woman is something I’ll always be eternally grateful for. Looking back moments without him would have been unbearable, somehow just knowing he was always there with me made me feel content and reassured.

 Which is why now the feeling of him being gone isn’t dissimilar to watching a balloon float away into the sky when you’re little or leaving a prise possession on the train by mistake. That heart-tugging, gut-wrenching moment where you know there’s no going back, the thing you held so dear has slipped away in the blink of an eye. I know that without the need for me to explain that feeling you’d have experienced it at some point in your own life. That feeling of loss, the sudden shock of knowing that something can never, ever be replaced is the most painful and hardest experiences I’ve personally ever had to face but through that, I know that I’m so incredibly lucky to have owned a cat like Misty, to of shared a bond so unbreakable with, that truly meant so much to me. I’m also incredibly grateful to have been given the time over lockdown to spend every waking day with him those moments I spent with him feel that much more special and meaningful. 

This will break your heart, as it did mine but in the night before his departure, I lay face to face with him sobbing, telling him how much I have always loved him to which he placed a paw on my face several times as if to say, it's okay, I'm ready now. That night he slept on my bed with me never leavingmy side. 

 The feeling of him being gone is something that is going to take a long time to recover from, I always knew that after he'd gone I would miss him terribly but the feeling for me feels reoccurring, sometimes I humble myself that he's asleep in his box he used to love at the top of the stairs, or he's laying down the bottom of the garden and when that moment hits me again, and I realise he's gone it feels like being punched back down to the ground again. Not a day goes by where I don't think about him and holding him in my memory feels so important to me, he’s missed by everyone who knew him that's for sure. 

 Like sadly saying goodbye to Misty, this year has felt like a closing of a chapter in many ways for me, continuous calls to let go of my childhood youth, if turning 25 isn’t a big enough call for that I don’t know what is, though I have also started to drink a lot of coffee this year too come to think of it, that's how you adult right? I've always been a big believer in signs from the universe or things happening for a reason and this year has certainly felt like a domino effect in many ways, a series of cause and impact. One thing leading to another. 

 One of the main, major calls into adulthood as late has been another house move in the near future, a decision that has put into perspective exactly how much I and Jay would quite like to do our own thing now and get a place of our own instead of effectively moving from home to home still under the influence of a parent. This time redecorating a new room, moving somewhere new and starting again, whilst also holding the thought in my mind that I'd quite like to move out soon just doesn't feel right neither does making a home somewhere that isn't mine and Jay's home so the decision to do so has been heavy on our minds. Neither of us thought we’d be having conversations about this, this year especially given the circumstances but somehow it just makes so much sense for us both now, after all, it has been a good lengthy 6 years together, if we aren’t ready to move in together now I don’t know if we ever will be. Still, we certainly know it’s going to be a long process and one that may be many months in the works yet, but to get that initial ball rolling feels incredibly exciting.

"This year has felt like a closing of a chapter in many ways for me, continuous calls to let go of my childhood youth, if turning 25 isn’t a big enough call for that I don’t know what is"

In hindsight, the movement so far this year has been welcoming if not surprising cliched quotes on Instagram aside I feel like this year is truly a year for growth, a chance to learn. I know that there was a set of line's knocking about written by Leskie Dwight that quoted 'What if 2020 is the year we have been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw- that it finally forces us to grow. 'A year we finally accept the need for change' Despite seeing the quote posted numerous times across social media I can't help but realise exactly how true it is, or at least could be given that we allow ourselves or force ourselves to change. On that note, before I wrap this post up it, it leads me to a topic I couldn't not speak about and that is in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement that is and always should be ongoing. 

I spoke on my Instagram at the height of George Flloydsdeath but felt it was necessary and important to echo it on my blog too. I spoke about ensuring that we are continually making waves in being actively anti-racist and by amplifying your voice anyway way you know-how, using your platform and shouting about what you're passionate about as an influence and blogger I feel I have the power to do so. Donating, sharing and signing petitions and protesting are all things we can keep doing to make a difference. I know that personally speaking I have made moves in doing so, as well as taking the time to continue to keep educating myself by reading, listening and most importantly learning best I can. In particular, I've spent a lot of time paying attention to black-owned podcasts a source that I feel I can easily listen to whilst getting ready for work or winding down at night. It's also a source I've found a lot really interesting and valid points within, some of which have really made me look at the way I choose to go forward, the attitude I take and the people I choose to keep in my inner circle, the latter being something I've already made movement with. Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinen√© spoke about this on their podcast‘Slay in your lane’ where they spoke about by looking at your inner circle it's about calling out racist behaviour and challenging views we believe to be wrong that's including both friends and family, with family members being the most stubborn to change their views but in doing so can really create change.

Just coming back to those decisions we make moving forward it's also about looking to the brands, celebrities or influencers we choose to support. I actually foundwhilst writing this post on Pinterest reiterates that quite well and that is "unfollow anyone on Social Media & in real life who doesn't make you feel empowered, informed or inspired" but I think that also translates well to thinking about the content we consume on a daily basis. 

As both Yomi and Elizabeth stated on their podcast ‘we are so lost in who we believe our readers are we look instead to brands influencers and celebrities for guidance instead’ and I think that couldn't be any more true especially in terms of this generation. Again as a blogger and influencer myself, the decisions going forward are about deciding wisely who to work with, the collaborations that hold your core values at heart and if they don't I'll be choosing not to take them, those are things that not just me but other bloggers and influencers can do also and that can come down to doing your research first. A tool we can all use to educate ourselves, it's okay to not know the answer, it's okay to change your views or your way of thinking and it's okay for others to challenge those too. We are all open human but we can all do better in some way or another. 

What's your opinion?

@paige rhianne_