May 2021 | By Chelsea Catherine
The Pandemic and Personal Values
The other day, I finished work, sat down and just thought, “Holy cow. I am wiped out.” I have been tired for months now, not necessarily because my life is hard or particularly bad – it is neither of those things. I am tired because the pandemic has really helped me clarify what I want my life to look like, what my values are, and what I want to spend my time doing.
I have never been more aware of these things than I am now.
For example, on Sunday I went up to the Brandon area to dogsit for one of my best friends. It wasn’t until Tuesday evening that I noticed I hadn’t packed any makeup or a hairbrush. I didn’t even want to do any makeup, but my hair needed brushing and I keep the comb with the makeup. . . When I realized it, I laughed. I used to never go a day without doing my hair and makeup. Now? I do it when I feel like it, which isn’t often. I am tired of beauty standards. I am tired of having to dress up to go places.
During that same time, I received a notice from the HR manager at my company that I would have to start coming back to the office twice a week. The thought of it is exhausting. Makeup? Work clothes? Making small talk with coworkers? I used to love going into the office to see people and get dressed up. Now, none of those things sound even remotely appealing to me anymore. I do not want to spend my time or energy on my appearance, especially for people I am not close with. I don’t want to be forced into small talk or idle chitchat. I don’t want to waste my day commuting. I love what I do, and I want to do just that – work and not all the crap that comes with it.
A week or two ago, I went on a date with a girl. While talking, I admitted that I find myself being tired a lot now. “That’s called depression, sweetie,” she said.
I wanted to scream at her. Of course I am tired. Of course others are tired, too. In the last year, the American public has been through so much. We have had a complete reset. Now, with things opening up again, employers are complaining that there are not enough workers. They blame unemployment. I blame capitalism. For so long, we have been forced to work for pennies, to not complain, to sacrifice so much of our daily lives to the grind. . . and for what? To make someone else a buck?
I work for a nonprofit, so it’s a little different, but my labor can still be exploited, like everyone else. Nobody here in America is free of that. And we (the working class) are tired of it. That much is clear.
This realization has impacted the way I view writing, too. I do not care much anymore about writing a bestseller. I know that monitoring the industry trends is important for success, but I just can’t. I want to write what interests me. I want to write all the things that no one else is writing, or what they want to write but are afraid to.
This pandemic and this year have been awful because of the lives lost and the long-term health impacts COVID can have. But I am thankful for the time isolation gave me to think and evaluate my goals and values. I know who I am and what I want from life. That has been a blessing.
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You can explore Chelsea Catherine’s work at chelseacatherinewriter.com