I’m back to work on Monday. Well, I’m dipping my toe in the water, anyway, returning to the office on a part time basis. Our workplace is not officially back to normal but I’m returning in order to break the ice and help prepare for when all the staff are back. It’s been 12 weeks since our office was closed as part of the overall lockdown measures which effectively closed down the country. I’m part relieved, part nervous about the return.
Relieved as this can’t go on forever. Fionnuala knows me inside out and back to front and wisely informed me that the longer I stay off work, then the harder it will be for me to return. She made a very valid point. It’s very easy to slip into the comfort zone, lounging on the sofa while collecting my full salary every month. I need to get up and about again, instead of slipping into a rut and hiding in the house for the rest of my life.
The thought of getting up again at 6 a.m. and going out into the cold, dark, wet mornings doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. Nor does the prospect of travelling on public transport again, especially in these times. Will I need to wear a mask? What social distancing measures will my employers have put in place? Are they adequate and what do I do if a colleague strays within two metres of me? There’s only one way to find out, I guess.
Then there’s the little voice chirping in my ear that I’ll switch on my computer, stare at the screen and promptly fall to pieces. Have I forgotten how to do my job? Will the backlog of tasks and demands simply overwhelm me to the extent where I run screaming from the office with my hands over my ears. Will I be found out as the fraud I’ve always suspected I am? Unable to put the mask back on and play the part of the calm, knowledgeable professional?
These are just some of the thoughts that swirl around my addled mind. I’m a worry wart and a bit of a drama queen, an expert at turning the tiniest molehill into the mightiest mountain. I need to ignore this voice and focus on knuckling down to the reality of the situation. I need to get back to normal for the sake of my mental and physical health. This doesn’t just apply to me but also my family, my friends, all of us. The world hasn’t stopped turning, we need to clamber back on board again.
We will never take normal for granted again. As the lockdown eases we are starting to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. We only became aware of what we had when it was, by necessity, taken away from us. We have all missed the mundane. It will be good to re-establish a routine and engage again with a society we have watched from afar for three months now. We have seen the best and worst of humanity, the best and worst of ourselves.
We will all have learnt during this crisis. It has been a time for introspection and reflection. We may have faced some difficult, uncomfortable truths. Lockdown had changed us all. Some have reopened old wounds, while others have allowed old scars to heal. When we emerge again, squinting into the sunlight, will we change for the better, or slip back into our old ways? The choice is ours, let’s hope me make the right decisions.
If you’re venturing out into the real world again, I wish you well. If you’re looking forward to it with relish, then I hope it is as you remembered it. If you’re uncertain and filled with trepidation, then I empathise and share your concerns. You can do it, though, and the reality is never as bad as the thoughts that precede it. 2020 may be a year to write off for many, but don’t give up on it quite yet. There is still life to be lived if you choose to do so.