A year ago, I was living a great life. I was traveling around the world for my job as an equity, diversity, and inclusion consultant and leadership and empowerment speaker, I was partying it up, I was seeing my elderly parents every week, I wore lipstick and high heels on the regular, I would smother my friends with hugs when I saw them, and so much more.
Never did I ever think that….
a) a “nemesis virus” — which is what I call COVID-19 — would literally change the lives of every single person on this planet,
b) my hometown of Toronto, Canada, where we’ve had some of the strictest rules in the world, would essentially be shut down for months on end, or
c) I would spend almost every single day at home for a solid year — something I’ve NEVER done before!
But all of this happened!
Over the last year, I’ve shared at length some of my deeper reflections on this moment, but in this post, I want to highlight the twelve most unexpected things I have learned from literally being inside my home every day for a year.
1. It’s so dry! As a brown girl, pre-COVID I was obsessed with constantly buttering up my skin to prevent alligator skin, but after a year of being cooped up at home, I am drier than ever. A person can only have so many humidifiers running before she starts to feel like she’s living inside a sauna.
2. I shed like a dog. I didn’t notice this as much pre-COVID, but I shed like a dog. A year of being at home has revealed that I shed hair everywhere! I’ve now reached the conclusion that this was happening before — I was leaving my DNA in taxis, on airplanes, at hotels, in restaurants, etc. — but it’s a pain in the tail that now it’s all accumulating in my home.
3. I make a mess. Being indoors all day — for work, exercise, all my meals, virtual socializing, and everything in between — means I’m making a mess everywhere. Which leads me to lesson four…
4. I hate doing chores. I grew up in an immigrant-run household where daily chores felt like they were the price of the admission. Sooo to say that I hate chores would be an understatement. But now I do them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
5. My soap budget is out of control. As a proud germaphobe, I’m grateful that COVID is making the rest of the world catch up on hygiene, but I’m literally sick of refilling my soap pumps at home. It feels like I’m singlehandedly stimulating the soap economy.
6. Netflix is my bestie. All I can say is thank the Universe for streaming services! At this point, I’ve watched most of Netflix, nearly all of Amazon Prime, and half of Crave (Canada’s answer to the HBO app). I actually don’t know how I’ll feel about leaving my TV at home during evenings out when the world opens up again.
7. Working out at home is the worst. I don’t know about you, but I miss going to the gym. After months of struggling with home workouts, I broke down and bought a Peloton. FML, it was expensive — hard to do given my immigrant family upbringing! — but it’s saved my physical and mental health. (Hot tip: find a friend who subscribes to Peloton to add you to their account — you can have multiple profiles on one account!)
8. I work too much. As nice as it is to roll out of bed and be in my office (and to wear yoga pants for meetings and webinars), working from home has resulted in me working too much. Without the separation of leaving to go into the office or to a client’s boardroom, I easily get sucked into working into the evening — argh!
9. I’m actually a decent cook — but I’m sick of my cooking. In my family, I have a rep for being a meh cook. Well, bring on COVID living! Being forced to cook for myself on the daily has meant that I’ve really improved my food game. But the issue now is that I’m sick of cooking for myself.
10. I love people. As a professional speaker, pre-COVID I literally would interact with hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people a week. I would often come home and desperately need to not see anyone for stretches of time to rest and restore. And now I’m having the opposite experience — I miss people!!!
11. I actually love being home all the time. This is something I didn’t expect at all! Before COVID, I was always on the go for work and play, thinking I loved being on the road as much as I was. But now that I’ve had the chance to spend time at home, I’ve realized that I really love my home and I love being at home! (This said, I’m done with being home almost 365 days in a row!!!)
12. I hold privilege. That I can even list 1 to 11 here screams about the privilege I hold. As a social justice advocate, I’ve always been mindful of my privilege. But this COVID moment has deepened my understanding of my power and privilege in society — and reinforced why I must continue to use my voice to interrupt oppression in society.
These are just a few of my personal musings from COVID living over the last year. On a more serious and meaningful note, this experience really has given me a moment to pause and reflect on my life, on society (don’t even get me started), and on the resilience and strength that we need to overcome challenging times.
Whether the challenges you’ve faced and the lessons you’ve learned are the same or different from my list, I think we all deserve to celebrate having made it through this difficult year.