The Pandemic One Year Later: A Letter to My Past Self

Dear March 2020 Court,

First off, let me start by saying congrats on the move back home to Chicago and for making it through your first month at a new job! You handled a lot of life changes at once, and even though you were stressed at times, you made it. Now, I don’t mean to let out all the air in your balloon, but I feel obliged to tell you: There are more life changes coming. Shit’s about to get real weird.

In one week, you’re going to be furloughed from your brand new job. It will be St. Patrick’s Day, and you’ll be wearing a shamrock skirt when you get the news. You’ll feel a bit numb at first, and then you’ll immediately feel like an asshole for being laid off while wearing a shamrock festooned skirt. You’ll then think, “This is just for a few weeks and then we’ll all be back in the office.” I hate to break it to you, kiddo, but you’re being super naive. You’ll still be working from home or the clubs in March 2021 (spoiler alert: You get your job back in June!) with no idea on when, if ever, you’ll be back in the office. But because you’re working from home, you and Elliot will be able to re-do your kitchen, paint your house, and best of all, spend a lot more time together.

Speaking of Elliot, he’s going to make you real proud (more than he already does) over this next year. He’s going to be a true leader at work and will be rewarded with a well-deserved promotion. He’s also going to be there for you when you start crying out of nowhere while stirring chocolate chip cookie dough because you, “JUST WANT THINGS TO BE BACK TO NORMAL!” You’ll also be there for him. Because that’s how you two roll.

You won’t be alone in getting laid off. There are going to be millions of people who are in the same situation as you, but that won’t be a comfort. In fact, when you do go back to work you’re going to feel some survivor’s guilt. But you’re going to work your butt off, so be ready to put in some extra hours. You’re also going to surprise yourself with all the projects and responsibilities you take on over the next year. You’re going to build great relationships with your colleagues remotely and still find ways to connect with people despite not being in the office.

Much like it’s done in the past in times of extreme stress, your OCD is going to flare up. You’ll start going down a “doomsday news” rabbit hole, and trust me when I say it won’t help. You’ll momentarily feel like you’ve failed because it’s been so long since OCD affected your daily life. You didn’t fail. Because instead of letting it take over, you’ll implement new strategies and talk to a therapist to keep those pesky thoughts in check. And you will feel better, trust me.

You’re going to miss sports for a few months, but The Last Dance documentary about the ’90s Bulls is going to bring you some much needed nostalgia and joy for five weeks this spring. You’ll also get sucked into this Netflix show called Tiger King, but I feel that’s something you’re going to have to experience on your own. No spoilers. Oh, and enjoy the endless memes.

Despite having three months with the potential for unlimited ukulele practice, you’re not going to get any better. You’ll learn a few new jams, but you’re not going to be serenading Hawaiian weddings any time soon. You’re also not going to keep a pandemic diary, master tying nautical knots, or learn a new language. That’s okay; don’t feel guilty if you don’t use this “unlimited free time” to master some new skill.

You are going to get really good at completing crossword puzzles, and you’re going to spend hours laughing with your mom completing them together via FaceTime. This time with her is going to be a bright spot in your day, so enjoy it. And no, an omelet isn’t made with ‘yole’; it’s made with ‘yolk’.

Your group chat with your college friends will still be going strong one year later, and you’ll still cry laughing at the random shit you all send to each other. Despite not being able to meet up physically, you’ll feel closer with these women than you did the previous years.

Things will start to open back up in the summer, which will be great because the weather is going to be perfect. That first outdoor brunch at Smoke Daddy is going to taste like manna from heaven, but you might drink one too many Zombie Dusts because you’re so happy to see people. Have a Gatorade handy.

March 2020 Court, I won’t lie to you: this year is going to be tough. You’ll want to throw your TV through the window every time you hear the phrases “unprecedented times” and “now more than ever”. You’ll miss your family and friends. You’ll hate wearing a mask during hot yoga (but you’ll do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do). And you’ll grieve for the half a million Americans who died from COVID.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Uhh thanks for the pep talk, ASS” but the point of all this isn’t to overwhelm you with doom and gloom. It’s to let you know that, despite everything thrown your way this year, you’ll get through it. Maybe not gracefully because you’re still a huge klutz, but you’ll get through it the best you can. You’re still going to laugh in 2020, you’ll still find adventures, and you’ll still make new friends. You’ll challenge yourself and become your inner circle’s expert on the Spanish Flu. You’ll still have lots of great memories and will grow even more appreciative of the people in your life and the opportunities you have.

You’ve got this, and I’m proud of you. And if something pisses you off in 2020, just blame Carole Baskins…

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    Abeona Adiona

    Chicago gal and current Toronto expat with 47 countries visited, four countries of residence, and hundreds of "why does this kinda stuff only happen to me???" stories under my belt.

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