Monday, 1 February 2021

Quarantine Diaries | Part 3 | Hello 2021

      Happy New Year gang! Yeah I know, it's February already. And this isn't my first post of 2021, but seeing as the last one was a long-overdue post about something I did last year, I don't fully count it. This is the first, official post about 2021 and the New Year, and where life is at these days.

     .... which is back in lockdown, if you're here in the UK anyways. Oh what a start to the year! How are we all coping? Who's lost their mind again? I was reading back through my last 'Quarantine Diary' before starting writing this one, and in it I mentioned that my situation then in August was fairly similar to in the first instalment, from May. Well, that's not quite true this time!

Snow covered tree overhanging a river banking - winter in the Borders, Scotland, UK - during the 2021 lockdown
This lockdown features lots of wintery countryside walks


     Yes, I've hinted at a few life changes in recent posts, so let's go through an update, shall we? Things are all very different compared to this time last year - or even just a few months ago! First of all, I'm no longer furloughed. I was made redundant at the end of October, as the tour company decided to shut down entirely for the winter, and couldn't afford to keep me when the furlough scheme ended - yes, the scheme has been extended, but I'd already finished that job and found another before they made that announcement! Advanced warning from the government might have been nice!

     The good news in there of course, is that I have found another job, although it's not ideal and wasn't what I'd planned for this year at all. I was supposed to go abroad again, to Australia or New Zealand, which is still my aim eventually, so my work for now is very much "in the mean time", something I'm viewing as temporary until I can get life back on track. I've ended up teaching English as a foreign language again (for those who don't know, I was in Asia teaching kindergarten English for 2 years), but online this time, with a mix of children and adults, through a couple different websites. I don't love it, but it's something I had enough experience in to find a job at all (which was a daunting prospect in this recession!) and it's pandemic-proof income that hasn't been affected by this latest lockdown. I'm only doing part-time hours as well, because on top of that, I decided to study a CELTA online too.

      For those going "what's that?", the CELTA is a Cambridge qualification for teaching English as a second language to adults. It's a well-known and recognised certificate in the ESL world, and I figured it would be a productive use of my time just now. I looked at some ESL jobs abroad back in the autumn, but more and more seem to be asking for a CELTA than used to (even jobs teaching children!), so although I've said a million times that I don't want to be a teacher forever, having this certificate will give me more options for working abroad in future, especially now that bloody Brexit has made it a hundred times harder to go work in Europe now - I'm hoping have such a qualification will stand me in better stead, and make getting work visas a little easier, if I choose to do that later down the line. It takes 3 months to do part time, and I'm only a few weeks away from finishing - thank god, because it's very time-consuming!

      So that's what my days consist of for now, working and studying online, with all my usual yoga practice, meditation, walks, and Spanish sprinkled in between them all. Oh, and jigsaws. Lockdown two is my jigsaw phase apparently. The other major difference between this lockdown and the first, is that I'm doing it all from my parents' house. This wasn't really the plan either, and no, I haven't moved back home. I was planning to come down for Christmas, and then with mere days to go, we were told that the whole of Scotland would be in Tier 4 from Boxing Day, which meant no travel between regions. My choices were then to skip Christmas entirely (as going for just the day wasn't very feasible), or come home and wait out the Tier 4 restrictions for a few weeks. I opted for the latter. At that point, the new UK Covid strain was only just emerging, so I wasn't expecting us to then be thrown into another lockdown, which looks like it'll last at least another month at this stage! So here I am.

     It's nice in some ways, because we're in the countryside, so I get a change of scenery and a break from the city for a little while, and the fact that I'm working online anyways makes it very easy. And it's nice to spend some time with family again, since other than my stint down here last summer, I don't spend extended amounts of time at home often. Plus, since I'm busy working, I'm not around them constantly, so my siblings and I haven't murdered each other .... (yet)....

     But fuck me, lockdown sucks. I think I'm actually finding this one harder than the first. Yes, I'm busier and have plenty of stuff to fill my time. But it's so bloody tedious, doing the same stuff on repeat every damn day. At least the first time, when I was furloughed, even though I had limited options being stuck at home, I could find some variation in my days with all those free hours. But this is just work-study-eat-walk-sleep on repeat, day after day. I can't even really tell you what my plans and hopes are for 2021, because I have no clue when or what I'll be able to do. Anything outside that cycle seems impossible right now.

     Plus, as you'll notice if you glance over at my blog archive there, I still haven't been writing much in recent months. I noticed I wrote about this a lot in the last 'Quarantine Diaries' too, and I'm still lacking the motivation and the inspiration for it. I've always started questioning what's the point, what am I writing for? I know this is extremely unhelpful, as writing shouldn't have to be for any point; it should be for self-expression, for the joy of doing it. But it's been feeling like more of a task, a chore lately, and I keep comparing myself to other people I see who have found success with it, and thinking well I never will, so what's the point? I'm very aware that I need to get away from these thoughts and ideas if I want to find the enjoyment in it again. I have done some scribbles to myself in the last few months, which is an improvement on much of last year. I may or may not share some of them at some point, but they were written just for me, not for any greater purpose or project or reason. I'm hopeful that between that, finally finishing my Spain posts, and now writing this (which is getting to be far longer than I was expecting, thank you if you're still reading!) that this is a step in the right direction again. I need to relearn to write what I want, and not try to emulate others with what I think I ought to.

     Anyways, I digress. Back to the lockdown bullshit. Last year, I knew the pandemic would take a while, but a few months out of my life didn't seem like the end of the world. Yet now here we are a year later, and they're still saying it will take the whole of this year to even begin to get back to normal with the vaccines now being rolled out. I knew things wouldn't instantly get better with the dawn of 2021, but holy shit, another year of this? I'm just so tired of feeling like I'm wasting time. Actually, I'm just plain tired all the time. I mean, I'm literally doing a job "for now", to make some money until I can do what I actually want. Yes, I'm young and yes, I still have time.... but working holiday visas have an age limit, and my twenties were supposed to be full of adventures, and here I am fast approaching 27, with the distinct possibility that it'll be another year yet before I get away again. It's just so fucking frustrating. Every time something in the news makes mention of the length of time we're looking at, I get a fresh wave of despair and dread. I understand the need to be cautious, I understand why we have these restrictions, I'm not angry at those. I'm angry at the fucking virus and would just very much like for it to piss off now please.

      I think where last year, I felt sad and lonely and scared, and was therefore trying to work on my mental health, and write message of optimism and encouragement.... this time I'm fucking bored and fed up and frustrated and endlessly irritated. Sometimes words of positivity are great.... but sometimes you always just want someone to say you know what? This fucking sucks. Sometimes you need to vent and rage and let some of that frustration out. Because we're definitely all feeling it.

     I keep reminding myself that everything in life is temporary. Everything is impermanent. So this will pass. It will end. None of us can magically fix it overnight ourselves, so we have to do our part and follow the rules, to protect each other, and to help our wonderful, magnificent healthcare workers. We have to be strong enough to hold on through this, and lean on each other when we can't be strong on our own. We have to find the reasons, no matter how small, to be grateful and happy, to try to keep sane.

     But we are also allowed to say FUCKING HELL, I HATE IT, I'M OVER IT, I WANT THIS BULLSHIT TO END. We're allowed to be mad at this stupid, damn virus, and the shit storm it has wreaked upon our lives.

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