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Copenhagen Business School

I wish I was in a crowded bus

(Illustration: Shutterstock)

2020 started like a horror movie for me. The job I loved so much turned into a serious nightmare, my depression and anxiety were showing their worst side ever, I was in constant fights with my family, and my friends were not interested in hearing from me.Val

At some point, I started to convince myself that my luck had finally turned around and all those years of winning Instagram contests were over. I even had ideas about the reasons why: was it because I kissed a random cute stranger at a party, like what happened to Lindsay Lohan in Just My Luck? (if you haven’t seen that movie, you now have something else to do in your quarantine)

The lack of time in my life was painful: I was working from 8:30 to 12 midnight every day, skipping lunch, sleeping too little. I had lost touch with the things that I liked doing, almost feeling like my identity was lost. I didn’t even have time to look at myself in the mirror, let alone make sure my hair wasn’t messy. I was using my spare time in taxis to cry and respond to WhatsApp messages.

I needed my life to slow down. I dreamt about becoming one of those people who quit everything and move to the countryside or go to work in kiwi farms in New Zealand – but if I did that, how would I pay for my very expensive monthly gym subscription? What would I tell my parents, who were very proud of me? What would I write on my LinkedIn profile?

Destiny is funny. You find yourself wishing you could get a break at life, and then a pandemic hits. You find yourself desperately wanting to leave your workplace, but when your manager tells you you’ll start working from home for an indefinite amount of time, you feel a sense of emptiness inside because you’ll miss it all.

Argentina (my country) has been on full lockdown (you need permission to leave your house) for 5 days now, and it’s my 9th day of quarantine (I started before to protect my family). I had to move from my new home (I guess I’ll tell you about that some other time), to my parents’ house, and the lockdown is supposed to go on until March 31st, but believe me, it will be much longer.

It seems like I finally got what I wanted: I can now, in between Zoom meetings where people use a beach picture background to imagine they are outside (Zoom meetings are all I do every day), look at myself in the mirror and do my nails. I can watch TV shows, cook, and bulk message random guys on Bumble. I can’t go to the gym, but I have time to workout at home.

I wished so much that everything would stop and it ended up stopping. And now all I’ve got are live videos of workouts on Instagram, newscasts with stats about the virus, and, once again, Zoom meetings (yes, they are so present in my life that I should mention them twice). I’m not crazy enough to believe that my wishes and thoughts can cause a global pandemic that forces everyone to stay at home, but I have felt a bit guilty at times.

It’s terrible. The first days feel like a holiday, but then you start slowly going crazier every day. I follow all advice available online, like showering and getting dressed, talking to people, and meditating, but it can’t be enough to feel calmer or better about not knowing when things will go back to normal.

Despite all of this, there is a thing that I believe can feel like a silver lining for this truly shitty situation: think about all the things you usually hate. Think about those things that you roll your eyes at when you remember them, the stuff you really dislike doing.

Think about being in a full bus after a long day, or sober at a crowded nightclub, going to the dentist to get root canal treatment, or to a shopping mall when there’s a huge sale. Think about waiting in traffic, listening to your work colleague tell you about their new relationship, or attending a birthday party being held for a family member that you don’t get along with.

I miss all the things I used to hate so much. Oh boy, how I wish I was in a meeting that could have been an email. I’m not a hugger, but I truly want to hug everyone. I feel happiness inside knowing that at some point, I’ll be able to leave the house again to go and work for 14 hours.

After all this ends, we might have found a way to love what we usually hate. This does not mean that all this time locked in our houses will be fun or that I’m happy about it (but please, everyone, stay at home even if the law is not forcing you to), but it’s happening anyway, so there has to be some sort of silver lining.

I might not be happy about the present, but I’m excited about the future. I should also be committed, and keep this attitude no matter how long this continues, so that when things go back to normal, I don’t go back to rejecting every invitation to go out that I get from my friends because I want to stay home and watch documentaries.

We will get through this. I want to specifically point out to anyone quarantining alone or feeling lonely even in a house full of people, that you can text me at any time (I’m on all social media, with my full name), and I’ll try to make some bad joke to help. Stay at home and stay safe. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another Zoom meeting to attend…

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