Cover photo credit to Monica Lie
It’s been 3.5 months since I left my job to figure out what a more purpose-driven life could look like.
At this quarter point review, by all available measures my sabbatical is going terribly.
For example, I should have moved to Spain last month.
Covid-19 obviously had other plans.
Since reality locked us all down, I set up a daily routine to keep things going.
“It’ll be fine!” I told myself and others.
“I can still reflect and craft out a purpose from home!”
There are a couple of things I’m proud of achieving in this time:
- Managing a tripod handstand for the first time (#YogiSonia)
- Cultivating lettuce on my kitchen window
- Posting a crapload on www.soniamao.com (15 new articles!) for writing practice.
Here’s a quick round-up of my faves from the lot:
- Honey, I’m a Vegan: 5 FAQs and how to answer them for a newly-vegan and non-vegan couple.
- The Serenity in Routines: From Someone Who Used to Hate Routines.
- No-jito to Mojito: Tactics to stay dry at parties
I’m sick of the pressure we’re told to put on ourselves in this time.
You know the pressure I mean.
“If you don’t learn a new skill, start a business [enter whatever new achievement here], you’re wasting time”.
I hear where this sentiment is coming from.
When plans and routines get thrown out the window, you start to think:
What the hell do I do with all these newfound pockets of time?
Before we get on with finding more stuff to fill up the spaces with other stuff, here’s what I want to say:
The world is nothing like I used to know 4 months ago.
I’ve lost my plans, I’ve lost my dreams, heck, I don’t even know what’s important anymore.
And while yes I’ll eventually come to adapt to the new normal, I’d like to have some room to grieve for those losses.
I used to feel guilty about feeling about this grief.
That it was so privileged and so #firstworldproblem of me.
This hasn’t been helpful for my sanity at all.
I’ve shelved negative emotions, trying to channel my energy into “being productive”.
So, how has my sabbatical been going?
To be very honest…
I’ve spent most of my days listless, in pyjamas, lying on the bed feeling very much like a useless human being.
Here I am, turning 30 and I’m:
- Voluntarily unemployed to take a sabbatical basically in my bedroom.
- Still living with my parents.
- In a long-distance relationship with my partner who’s back home in Japan.
- Wondering what the ‘new normal’ will look like.
It scares me shitless.
Trust me, I’ve been trying to look on the bright side of things.
I’ve only felt even more useless when that doesn’t make me feel any better.
In the early days of lockdown, I got really restless.
People were organizing fundraisers, using their social media platforms to do cool things, starting home businesses.
So I thought, maybe I could start some kind of business?
I spent weeks planning the details.
But I couldn’t do it.
The grief was too much. The idea was too much. The pressure was too much.
Back to lying in bed I went, feeling even worse than before.
I had never felt so incompetent in my life.
This past week has been a little better.
I’ve been posting fun photos from my morning runs up on Instagram and Facebook.
I’m also planning to raise funds for charity selling energy balls next week.
Sparking a bit of joy in the days of others is how I feel like a useful human being, even if it’s just with punny captions or sweet treats.
I can’t stress enough the importance of prioritising your mental health right now.
We all process things in different ways.
Do what you need to do for you.
And if that’s grieving, being angry, or taking a day off doing nothing, then so be it.
These are crazy, uncertain times, and you shouldn’t feel guilty at all for putting yourself first over picking up a new language or whatever.
If you don’t already use the meditation app Calm, please, take advantage of this free 30 day pass.
The ‘How to Meditate’ series is my favourite.
(Not an affiliate, I just find it useful).
So yes, my sabbatical is going terribly.
But I’m making the most of it, even if it doesn’t look like anything I had in mind.
I’m taking it day by day, week by week at most.
And I’m trying to let that be enough for now.