I can choose to blame the virus, or I can choose to take advantage of this time to learn and be of service.
I remember the first time I heard about this new virus. It was January, and I didn’t pay much attention to it. After all, it was in China, and I live in Spain. Why should I be bothered?
I was born and raised in Italy, and by mid-February, the situation started to get serious there. My parents told me they couldn’t leave the house except to buy groceries or go to the doctor. That made it real to me, and I began to worry, although at the time we were still leading a normal life in Spain.
Everything changed last week. Cases in Spain spread so quickly that the situation turned upside down overnight, and we’re now in total lockdown — we can’t even leave our homes to go for a walk.
Oddly, being an introvert and having worked from home for almost two years, my life hasn’t changed much. My extroverted boyfriend also works from home, so we’re used to spending the majority of our time at our apartment together. However, this lockdown has been an occasion to reflect on some of the aspects of my life that I usually take for granted. So, here are five things I learned from my first five days of lockdown.
What I’ve Learned From the Lockdown
1. My “normal” is not the norm.
Watching videos made by people who don’t know how they’ll survive in quarantine made me realize that my lifestyle as an introvert hasn’t changed much. I love working out in the morning, so I usually go swimming or for a walk, but, apart from that, I work from home, order groceries online, and love spending my nights on the couch watching Netflix with my boyfriend. I don’t need to go out to have a good time.
I realized what a big shock this lockdown is for people who are used to going to an office and socializing in bars many times per week.
Something else that struck me was listening to people talk about all the time they now have to do the projects they had put off for months. I found myself asking, “What time are they talking about?” That’s when I realized my life hadn’t changed much. I always have so many personal and creative projects going on at any given time.
The other day, my boyfriend asked me, “Are you serious? You don’t plan to go out at all?”
“We’re not allowed to,” I answered. For me, it’s not a big deal. Sure, I miss my morning walks, but I’m pretty sure I can handle it — at least for now.
2. Technology is a gift.
Many people are comparing this situation to World War 2. One meme I saw read, “Our grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch.”
It really put things into perspective for me. As an introvert, I love spending time at home, and I don’t really see this lockdown as a big sacrifice.
Of course, this situation would be very different if we didn’t have the internet, couldn’t work from home, didn’t connect with each other on many online platforms, or couldn’t get instant access to the news.
Many people have had to adapt to a new routine, and for them, everything was turned upside down. That’s why I feel incredibly grateful to be able to work from my laptop, and I’m well aware that not everybody has this privilege.
3. I need to listen to my body.
For the first few days, my body felt fine. But then a backache set in, and that’s when I started practicing yoga.
Living in an apartment, we don’t have a yard, but we do have space for a mat. I started to practice some soothing yoga poses and soon felt much better. Introverts tend to spend a lot of time in their heads, and sometimes neglect what’s below their neck. I realized I need to listen to my body in all situations, and this lockdown is no exception.
4. A crisis can bring out the best in humanity.
Being a highly sensitive person, I get emotional very easily, and the videos of people singing from Italy’s balconies really struck me. They found a way to connect with each other, in the midst of this deadly and isolating crisis, which gave me so much hope.
Also, children all over Italy painted rainbows with the words “Andrà tutto bene,” which means “Everything will be okay.” Here in Spain, every night at 8 p.m., we stand on the balcony and clap to thank all health care professionals who are working around the clock to save lives.
Despite the scary times we’re living in, this crisis is bringing humanity closer, and it’s showing a level of empathy and connection that I’ve never seen before.
5. I can choose who to listen to.
Although my introverted brain — prone to overthinking and hyper-vigilance — would like me to check the latest news every five minutes, I instead listen to many personal development podcasts, knowing I can choose where to focus my attention.
I do want to be informed and follow the rules, but being on constant alert is not useful to me or anybody else. That’s why I’ve put some constraints in place. Now I only browse the news once in the morning and once at night.
The rest of the time, I focus on work, listen to business and personal development podcasts, practice yoga, paint, watch Netflix, and cook. I found that these activities calm my anxiety and redirect my energy to something more productive and fulfilling.
After all, everything is still a choice: I can choose to blame the virus and the external circumstances, or I can choose to take advantage of this time to learn and be of service. And when my brain goes to the worst case scenario, I know I can refocus on the important work I do, on the fulfilling connections I already have, and the ones I hope to build.
Because this crisis, as all crises, will pass — and I know we’ll be stronger as people afterward.