Time to be honest.
I’ve had a bit of a wobble today. Here in England, we’re starting our ninth week of lockdown and I’m struggling.
Not with the social distancing rules or staying at home. I am really missing seeing my parents, brother and friends but I understand that keeping apart at this time is the best thing for us and the rest of the country.
Having to stay home isn’t causing me stress, it’s not very different to how my life was before the coronavirus turned the world upside down. I’m an introvert, happy with my own company and doing my own thing. I can be more extrovert with my nearest and dearest, but less so with strangers, and it takes days afterwards to recover from the effort!
When the lockdown rules came into force I wasn’t too worried. I already worked from home, food can be delivered and I can stay in contact with my family (and keep them safe) thanks to all the wonderful technology we have ready access to.
Part of me was happy I could legitimately hide out and avoid social situations while working on my art and my business.
Two months later and I’m exhausted.
Lockdown has seen a constant stream of “here’s another course/summit/Instagram or Facebook live you HAVE to watch”.
Initially I pressured myself to attend as many learning opportunities as I could, as the message of using this time to better ourselves was booming loud and clear across the Internet. After a couple of weeks I recognised this wasn’t sustainable alongside still running my own business full time and I cherry picked one, maybe two, a week that I could fully engage with. This number has since reduced further as my own time to focus on what really mattered became eroded and fractured so much as to effectively be useless.
Alongside the call of continuous learning that I've always struggled to ignore, emerged the chatter of: “we should catch up” and “let’s video call”. Often from surprising sources, such as those friends I’d drifted away from, hadn’t seen for years and aren’t really a part of my circle or support network anymore.
As well as an introvert I’m a chronic people pleaser.
I’ve spent far more time than I feel comfortable with on the phone and video calling people. I understand that for those isolating alone, or that would usually be the social butterflies craving human interaction, lockdown is a nightmare.
Even people that would usually happily ping WhatsApp messages back and forth all day with me suddenly needed to have a “real” conversation. I get that. I’ve spent weeks alone before when The Mister was away with work when I really needed a phone call and to actually use my voice in a conversation with a person instead of just next door’s cat. I completely understand.
My days of uninterrupted creating and focus on my business disappeared in a puff of smoke.
The concept of spending several hours painting, shattered.
Blocking out a few hours to concentrate on building a process or researching a new platform, no chance.
I found myself on the phone or screen everyday. Trying to juggle appointments (would you believe it?!) for video calls for when it fit best for everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m lucky to have this problem. I appreciate and love chatting with my friends and family.
I find video calls draining.
Phone calls to “catch up” when nobody has left the house and we have nothing to talk about are hard work.
I’ve found myself resenting the time that I wanted to spend working being given away to socially distanced contact that no longer holds any meaning or value to me. It’s become just another task on the To Do list.
The fractured days have damaged my creative flow and my consistency in my approach to Hannah Kate Makes. A time I had hoped would allow me to quietly grow and bloom has left me feeling frazzled, totally unable to focus or concentrate and my pain has returned at a level I’ve not felt for almost a year.
And it’s my fault.
I abandoned my boundaries.
Through a misplaced need to look after others before myself or to feel like I was needed and helping those others, I’ve put myself in a position of overwhelm and feeling out of control. I disrespected my own physical and mental needs. I treated my business as though it wasn’t important, when it’s my creative baby and my future.
I hadn’t realised how much this was all affecting me until I lay awake for most of last night in near panic because my routine had disintegrated and I felt completely behind and out of control in every aspect of my life. Everything seems worse at 4am when tired, alone and in pain.
It stops now.
My boundaries and means of protecting myself are being put back into place. My routines, such as they were, will be put back into practice. I can’t pour from an empty cup.
I just need to remember: “No” is a complete sentence.
Note: I’m sure any marketing types among you will be frowning at me because this isn’t a blog selling what I do or telling my reader about how I can help them.
I’m not sorry I’m breaking away from that format to tell my story.
It’s important to me that I can focus on my art fully and to the best of my ability to create work that my clients want. My mental and physical state is integral to being able to do this.
Also, I don’t want my business to be a “highlight” reel. I’m a real person and I want to work with people that value my honesty.
There’s no “call to action” on this piece. Just the hope that you realise you’re not alone if you feel the way I do. Or, if not, that you’ve gained some understanding of how other people are coping, or not, during lockdown.
Stay safe x