It’s almost 2pm. I woke up before 9am, showered and exercised before
10am. By 10:15am, I was drinking coffee with my computer open, slowly coming
awake and energized from the caffeine. By all accounts, my day started out
well. I was motivated and busy. Productive for a minute, even.
Then my phone buzzed. A notification from Facebook. Oh, and three
friends are “in the house” on Houseparty. An iMessage from my friend down the
street: “Just checking in. Hope today is better.”
These are my days now. A flurry of messages every hour while I sit at my desk, a pen and paper with an ever-growing scribble of ideas and notes and lists (buy broccoli!). I already deleted the Instagram app from my phone to try and reduce the amount of distractions.
• • •
But really: it doesn’t matter. The messages continue to come in and
I’m craving the attention, the connection. My mind feels so lost. I can’t
decide if I want to focus on work, or take the time to digest this crazy moment
The distractions are endless online; exacerbated by the fact we’re all
online right now. Even those lucky to still have jobs are seemingly, suddenly
finding themselves with extra time on their hands. Trapped in their homes with
time to focus on creative crafts, hobbies, or that freedom to digest what’s
Meanwhile, there are others (and I count myself here), that feel
lost and confused. While it feels as if our entire global society has changed drastically,
my entire industry has just, kind of…disappeared. No one is looking to travel
because we can’t really travel right now.
And now, with my industry totally uprooted and my income sources
totally evaporated, I feel lost and hurt and confused and stressed. But I also
know I’ve still got to hustle. That’s my game; it has been for a while.
How do you hustle during a pandemic, though?
With no prospects for future income, I feel this incredible pressure
to figure out where next month’s rent paycheck is going to come from. How will
I pay my credit card bills?
When I moved to New York City two years ago, I tried my best to find an affordable apartment, to save my money, to keep a budget. And as my self-employed income increased and my life in the city has become more stable, I finally started to feel like I was on solid footing in one of the most expensive cities. I’d created an entire business plan and goals for 2020 and was already on track for a blowout year.
Obviously that all came crashing down with this looming recession, and the drop in tourism.
• • •
Now: my plans have all but disintegrated. I’m finding it just so
difficult to focus. It’s terrifying to not be able to plan for a future, to
live day by day. I don’t know what’s going to happen next in my work, in my
health, in the lives of my loved ones. All those questions and doubts and anxieties,
and grief—it’s made it nearly impossible to do what little work I actually
In my new work-from-home life, I’ve been managing my anxiety by focusing on little positive habits and routines, so my days don’t seem too difficult at first. I wake up at a reasonable time. I’m getting healthy sleep (with occasional sleep aids). I’m making sure to have a healthy breakfast, and to try to eat a lunch and/or a dinner. I’m not binging on snacks or on Netflix. I’m really trying.
But every time I sit down at my computer, ready to type or to
research or to send an email. My hands stop. My mind wanders. I try switching
up my music, from early 2000s grunge to tech house to Dua Lipa’s new pop
anthems. I turn the music off. I open the window. Do I want silence or the buzz
from the birds outside (interrupted by the increasingly frequent sound of an
ambulance siren)? Do I want to blast my music from a Samsung sound bar at full
volume, to drown out my thoughts?
My mind is riddled with thoughts and worries, and the focus is
nowhere to be found. Who knew trying to keep a semblance of normalcy during a
pandemic would be so difficult?
• • •
I think my biggest challenge at the moment is the noise online. So
many people, friends included, have suggested to just use this “time off” to reset
and reassess. But when you’re under-employed and already on the edge, how do
you take time (the only resource we have) for non-essential work?
Our society (ie, capitalism) doesn’t really allow for us to breathe. To take the time needed to process our mental health. Or even to process this still unraveling pandemic.
So, I am stuck working on mundane and menial tasks, trying to drum up some creativity and words to write, while the world around me tumbles. All the while, my still safely employed peers get to breathe. In the meantime, all I can do is focus on the little things to keep my spirits up—just enough to be productive…just enough.