It’s been 8 weeks since I was told I’d be furloughed. I didn’t want to believe it. I held back a whimpering sob as we bid farewell on our last team video call – because if you didn’t know already, I’m a big bag of erratic emotions (the pandemic probably not helping) and my colleagues are great in the sense that they can handle this with just the right balance of comfort and light hearted humour. They are the most wholesome people I know and I have always ensured they get their cups of tea just as they like them because I value them that much. I joined the marketing team almost a year ago now, and within the first ‘lets get to know each other’ meeting, I knew full well that our banter was only going to go from strength to strength. Luckily, I was right – and looking back, it’s the daily belly laughs that I miss the most.
Going from being hopelessly unemployed to having an ACTUAL place of work to go to 5 days a week for 8.5 hours of the day, with exceptionally lovely PEOPLE, doing PROPER work, is exactly what has made the last 12 months so good to me. I can’t lie, I’m a purpose thriver; and I really do relish that happy rush of satisfaction when you’re interacting, bantering, chatting, exchanges ideas, producing an outcome that makes a difference to others. Am I lucky enough to love my job and not hate Mondays? I sure am – and I would count my blessings every time I’d put my leftovers lunch in the fridge at 8:30 and ask who wants one of my spesh frothy coffs.
The start of the furlough period was absolutely the hardest. I had been working from home for a couple of weeks prior – making it work seamlessly with regular video calls and firing off emails left, right and centre to stay as connected as possible. THANK YOU STEVE JOBS. Then, just like that, it’s all cut off from you. I couldn’t possibly fathom having months ahead of me without a purpose, or regular interaction with the rest of the team.
‘What on earth am I going to do with my time?’, I asked the guys. ‘Ah, you’ll find plenty of things to do – I think you’ll surprise yourself how quickly you can fill a day’, I was assured. Of course, I didn’t believe them. They’re just making me feel better, as they always do so damn well. Yet here I am: immersing myself in a creative cocktail of activities that admittedly, I am quite enjoying.
People have been surprised whenever I’ve told them I’m finding the furlough life quite okay. I think they expect me to say I’ve been terribly bored, counting down the minutes until I can go back to whole packet of M&S biscuit meetings and a colour coded Excel document to validate my time.
Hold on, I’m not saying it’s been easy. Oh, no! Some days I feel so low that the thought of getting out of my coffee stained pyjamas is frightfully unappealing. In those occasions, I take baths in the middle of the day even though it feels so wrong to do so – and I attempt to drown out the thoughts of missing working life with 2009 episodes of Come Dine With Me. It’s not always successful, however I do enjoy the disapproving side eyes the guests exchange over the table when Karen tactfully skims past the fact that the pastry is actually shop bought.
Thankfully for a majority of the time I have a remarkable burst of vitamin D powered energy – and I’ll throw myself in to anything and everything that enlightens me even further. One of the silver linings that has come out of lockdown is that I am able to notice the simple pleasures and get so much joy out of the tiniest, most mundane things that my pre-pandemic self probably wouldn’t have even registered. I catch myself smiling for no reason other than I am feeling so #BlEsSed. It’s… Nice. Really nice. Which feels wrong to say, given the constant dread we are all going through at the same time. Eugh.
Regardless of the mood, there is always a stale sense of terrible guilt that continues to linger at the back of my brain. On the low days, the thought ‘Get over yourself: You’re furloughed – not redundant. Just be grateful you still have a job, whilst so many have lost theirs. Also, incase you needed another reminder, PEOPLE ARE DYING’, hits pretty hard. On the better days, it fires from another angle: ‘Woah, you’re enjoying being furloughed? HOLD ON. Just think of the key workers out there grafting all hours, or those who are working from home with a family to take care of at the same time. Also, PEOPLE ARE DYING. It’s sickening how easy you have things.’
This week I went for a socially distanced walk with a friend from work who was on her way back from a one off day in the office to oversee some things. She’s been working from home during this time, so understandably it was quite a shock to the system to be back in the same office, seeing how things are continuing even through this incredibly unsettling time. As the actual CEO of over thinking everything, the prospect of going back to work after such a long period of being at home in this very safe ‘bubble’ reeled off a whole A4 Pukka Pad of anxious thoughts:
How am I going to adjust to that quick pace of living again? How will I take to being around HUMANS for 8.5 hours a day? How will I be handle picking up all the jobs, and for that matter – remember how to do them?
Guilt, more guilt. I know just as well as you how inconceivably privileged I am to even have a job to return to. And surely, I really shouldn’t have been enjoying being furloughed that much – because in todays society, being at home and not doing work is generally considered fruitless at the best of times.
But in hindsight, it’s the not the thought of going back to work that’s overwhelming – it’s the thought of going back to the high pressure and fast paced way of existing. I’ve really liked not feeling I need to be socialising, attending, performing this busy life that I don’t always feel like living in order to be ‘productive’ or ‘successful’. I’ve come to find a simple life is far from wasted: if anything, it’s fruits are far juicier than any Instagram worthy life could ever be. *hair flip*
Does enjoying being furloughed mean I don’t like my job? Far from it. Does it mean I am a lazy piece of worn in furniture? Absolutely not. I guess it just means, ever the optimist and creative bug, I have been able to make the best of a rubbish situation. It has taken a global pandemic to make social and modern day expectations have come to a firm holt, and whilst one side of my mind hates everything about this – the other half is content with discovering more and more every day simple joys.
With all that in mind, I’ve decided to work on trusting the not so wild idea that things could actually be alright with going back to work. There is a high chance I could take to it the minute the kettle is boiled – a tempting comfort to say the least. And as for the dread? Well, I’ll have a good go at kicking all its draining negativity right up the arse – because as far as I’m aware, self deprecation never did anyone much good. Just letting it be and being a good human who does the best she can to keep happy throughout furlough? Sure, that could work. Because ultimately, it’s all we can do.
Alas, I would like to end this post with a generic quote: if you can’t serve up a slice of inspirational cheese on a cracker during than a pandemic, then when can you?
We are not all in the same boat, but we’re all in the same
storm shit show. Support each other, don’t judge, and be kind.
Right, m’off to water my sweet peas now. Ta Ta!