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Lessons from lockdown

I'm going to miss lockdown.

If you told me that I would feel this way back in March, or during one of my many "I miss everything" meltdowns since then, I would have balked at such a wild notion. But, much to my surprise, I've grown to love the little bubble that life has become.

The past four months have been, well, many things - at times challenging and scary and lonely, and also re-energising, creative, fun. Most of all, they have taught me so much. We may be pressing play on 'normal' life again, but for me, I feel like everything has changed, and in some aspects, I'm not mad about it.

Here's what I've learned from this extended episode of Black Mirror...

I like working from home

I never thought it would be possible to put an entire magazine together from our dining tables. When it first became clear that we would have to work from home, I felt slightly panicked. How the hell would we manage it? VIP Magazine is a photoshoot-led publication (we print four exclusive features per issue) but with the country shut down, shoots weren't an option. But neither was floundering. We had to adapt, be resourceful and think outside the box, and so far - in these strangest of circumstances - we've put four issues out, something I am pretty proud of. Once I got used to the flow of our new set up, I began to love working from home. Although I've missed my beloved colleagues, we'd call and text throughout the day and do a monthly Zoom call on print day. I still can't wait to see them in person, but this WFH experience has been a real eye-opener about what can be achieved outside an office 9-5, and how when a close-knit team comes together, any challenge can be overcome.

It turns out, I'm more introverted that extroverted

I always told myself that I was 50:50 extrovert/introvert, but I think I convinced myself of this, because of my job; working in magazines is incredibly social, with loads of parties, events, launches, shoots and interviews. Although I adore what I do, I don't think I fully realised how draining it all was for me; how much energy I was using up by constantly being "on" and always running around to the next thing. Spending the past few months at home by myself or with my boyfriend, seeing the odd pal for a walk in the park, just generally taking it easy...I've never felt so content. Yes, I miss family, and lots of of aspects of pre-lockdown freedom, but for the first time in a long time, I have zero anxiety, sleep better, and I'm genuinely happy to have zero plans. For someone who has had her entire week planned out for years, that's big.

The simple things make me happy

It's such a cliché, but it turns out that simplifying your life makes you appreciate the little things. This time has absolutely enforced the importance of health, and the importance of family and good friends. It has taught me who to be truly grateful for, and that life doesn't have to be constantly exciting and full of big events to look forward to for me to be happy. In fact, some of my happiest times have been in my new apartment the past few weeks, cooking up pizza from scratch, bingeing Criminal Minds, drinking beer and dancing on my coffee table to Mamma Mia 2, going for cycles in Phoenix Park and finally getting to visit a beach and run into the lapping waves. Usually, I place a huge focus on planning trips away; a mini break in Europe with tonnes of activities, a crazy week of boozing in New York. This year, Conor and I have booked a few nights in a cabin in Donegal; hikes and sea swims during the day, bbqs and drunken board games in the evening. To me, that's my idea of heaven now.

I'm a total homebird

I already *kinda* knew this, but lockdown has confirmed it. I really, really miss Wexford. There have been days, like Mother's Day or dad's birthday, when all my siblings were home but me, that homesickness hit me with a surprising force. Or just a random Tuesday, if I was feeling a bit down, I'd crave a cup of tea with my mam, or a cuddle from our dog Max, or a good belly laugh with my sister. I'm beside myself with excitement for when I can get back down to my family for a stroll on Curracloe beach or a walk up Vinegar Hill with Maloccas' salt and vinegar chipper chips. Jesus Christ, I can taste them now.

I've without doubt found the person for me

This one is horrendously cheesy, so I'll keep it short. I didn't think that it was possible to spend practically every day for four months in someone else's pocket and still have so much to talk about and laugh over. Lockdown sped up the process of us moving in together by about six months, but it's been my silver lining through all the grey days. After years of toxic relationships, having someone as brilliant as this fella has made me truly learn my worth and how we all deserve to be treated. Okay, cheese over. Soz.

I used to waste a LOT of money

My priorities over the past year have without question changed, and owning a home is now one of my most important goals. Lockdown has forced me to look at how I used to spend, and it ain't pretty. I'm pretty sure I used to keep Boojum afloat with the amount of burrito bowls I'd go through for lunch, €15 for an after-work cocktail was somehow acceptable and I got to know most of Dublin's taxi drivers on a personal level. With the amount of rent I'm paying (eff you Dublin landlords), it's still not easy to get on the property ladder, but I am SO much more mindful about my purchases now. Apart from the odd boredom online shop. Ahem.

I've learned how to let go

This is one of the most important outcomes for me. I've always been someone who likes to be in control of a situation; I become fixated on something and can't accept when the outcome isn't how I envisioned. With quarantine, I had to get used to a lack of control pretty quickly. Suddenly, I had no choice but to surrender to the fact that I was powerless to alter my circumstances. Over time, that quiet acceptance trickled over to every aspect of my life. I now care less if something goes wrong. I shrug my shoulders if the day takes a turn. I'll move on much more quickly from a disappointment. I'll always want to be that person who books the holiday accommodation and who will make a loose itinerary in my head for a day out, but I've learned to chill out a bit, and to care less about the things that don't matter. Pandemic personal growth, wha!

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