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Addys Mariana Guerra of Living Fantasea: “FOMO is worse than the actual MO”

The second thing I learned was that my mind craved, nay, ENJOYED, “me” time. The times that I found myself most creative, energetic, and fulfilled was during social isolation. I wrote a song that wasn’t half bad. I even stained my first piece of furniture ever! I felt so much more productive and effective when […]

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The second thing I learned was that my mind craved, nay, ENJOYED, “me” time. The times that I found myself most creative, energetic, and fulfilled was during social isolation. I wrote a song that wasn’t half bad. I even stained my first piece of furniture ever! I felt so much more productive and effective when socially isolated than I ever had before in my adult life. The only other times I remembered being this productive and creative was when I was a child in Venezuela and kept a book of my songs and stories I wrote. Childhood was the only other time in my life when I felt unbothered: with no social pressures, no judgments, and pure creative potential with so much free time. Normally, as an adult, free time is a stressor. It indicates that I must be misusing my time if I have extra time. Surely, I must have forgotten to do something. Either A) I probably need to clean up a terrible mess somewhere, or B) maybe I had free time because I was a freak? Maybe I had free time because no one wanted to spend time with me? Was I a banished loner? But with the pandemic, everyone was forced to be a loner! Even the most charismatic personal trainers I followed on Instagram were now posting stories of cycling at home — ALONE! This mere distinction gave me the freedom from self-judgment and allowed me to ENJOY my free time and be proactive with it.


With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life. With that in mind, I created this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Addys Mariana Guerra

Addys began her journey immigrating to the United States from Venezuela with her family at just nine years old. Thanks to her parents, she graduated with a double major in Marketing and Psychology from FIU. She has worked in the digital marketing sphere ever since, finally launching her own business in 2021 with the mission to make every woman feel as confident, comfortable, and loved on the outside as they do on the inside: Living Fantasea


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

I immigrated to the United States with my family when I was just nine years old. My parents struggled to gain financial stability during the first few years and lost almost all their savings building new businesses. Eventually, they settled into real estate and provided my sister and I with a solid home and education. I think I was mostly shaped by the pressures of being bi-cultural when trying to fit in with family and also American society. I was lucky enough to travel the world while living with my parents, where I witnessed even more diversity. It was impossible for me not to see the world through a cultural lens even as I graduated to new schools, entered the workforce, and switched companies and jobs several times. I always saw the “culture” in place. I never knew exactly what I wanted to be in life. Even now as a thirty-something-year-old, I still feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I “grow up.” Graduating with a dual degree in Psychology and Marketing, I have been in digital marketing, communications, restaurant, and social worker roles. I think my experiences have allowed me to empathize with others in unique situations because now it is just easy to see what makes people human. Everyone has their own motivation, and every system has its own culture and rules. So, every time I enter a new workplace, it’s important for me to first assess the “mini” society that has formed under each roof and go from there.

Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?

I am currently working from home and I love it. The biggest adjustment is probably that I don’t have to have a heart attack every time someone “pops into” my office just to say hi because they’re bored senseless with their workday. As an introvert, I did not welcome these social encounters interrupting me from getting important tasks done. I enjoy being in control of my “social” time. When I want to call my friends or tell a joke to my coworkers, it’s when I choose to do it and with whom I choose — not with the coworkers I least like or during my busiest parts of the day. The only challenging thing is staying on schedule because when you manage your own time, it is easy to get side-tracked, especially with so many tempting chores to get done around the house.

What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?

What I miss most about my pre-COVID lifestyle is not having to think about all the COVID precautions while I’m out. It makes the whole experience of going out anywhere more stressful and therefore, less enjoyable. I miss not having to worry about bringing a mask, staying six feet apart from any strangers, or sanitizing my hands constantly. I also miss not feeling resentful towards my favorite restaurants and companies because they are simply not doing their job in maintaining the CDC protocols. Many restaurants near me don’t respect any “6 feet apart” rules, and many workplaces do not allow working remotely which is ridiculous. Working remotely is easier in 2021 than it has ever been. There are not many real excuses for companies to keep employees working from small, confined spaces to get work done.

The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?

I would like to see the American people becoming more considerate of others. As an individualistic culture, the American culture has always prioritized the individual over the larger masses. This can be great when it comes to fighting for personal freedoms and dreams, but it lacks usefulness when huge outbreaks like COVID happen. No extreme is ideal. To me, the best solution and compromise is always somewhere in the middle. American culture needs to learn to be a little more collectivistic and think of others when it comes to respecting rules and regulations. Many Americans fought the act of wearing masks as they saw it as an infringement on their personal freedom, but really, this freedom needs to be limited ONLY when exercising that freedom hurts others. To paraphrase John B. Finch, a citizen’s rights end where another citizen’s rights begin. Wearing a mask was an easy task for other countries and cultures that value society as a whole, such as Japan. I hope that the pandemic has changed the heart of the individualistic American culture for the better so that Americans learn to value not just themselves as individuals but others as part of themselves in the greater landscape of the United States of America.

What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.

Unexpectedly, I think a lot of companies learned that workers can be trusted to get the job done from home. That is to say, many workers were actually more efficient working remotely. Most roles can be completed with a simple working computer and an internet connection in an isolated, designated workspace. It allows the worker to focus more on their job without daily “water cooler talk,” and it also offers the employees a better work-life balance. With no commute to and from work, time is not wasted, and energy is not spent on road rage. Additionally, many chores and household tasks can be done in between work tasks, saving an employee’s time to really rest on the weekends. I used to use my weekends to catch up with laundry and general housekeeping when I worked in an office, now I can use most of my weekends to spend quality time with my family, friends, and to actually relax. I think shifting from working at the office to working from home offers greater work-life balance, which will only have a positive impact on a workers’ mental health.

How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?

When I heard about our first “lockdown” or “quarantine,” I gladly embraced the idea of having to go nowhere. It’s not like I was confined to a prison, I was confined to my comfy apartment with my wonderful husband and my rescued dog. I could still go outside and go on walks under the sunshine. I did not go “stir-crazy” until recently when I got COVID in 2021. At first, I actually embraced the idea of lockdown. I enjoyed the quiet weekends, spending time with only my husband and my dog. We rarely had “alone time” together before the pandemic because we were usually out with friends on the weekends. However, I did not expect to have so much free time and that I would love it. I began writing songs like I did when I was seven. I tried staining furniture for the first time. I picked up an entirely new hobby and fell in love: aerial sling. With only instructional videos on YouTube, I learned the basics and felt exhilarated. I did not know that I could find something athletic that I enjoyed at this point in my early adulthood. Aerial acrobatics filled a hole in my life I did not know I had. I never enjoyed sports much, but aerial sling became a passion of mine almost overnight which really helped me fill my time during the pandemic. Aerial acrobatics definitely kept me going during the toughest times of the pandemic.

Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?

The greatest pain or discomfort came at the point where I was “COVID-positive.” It was very frustrating being forcefully quarantined, knowing that I had to stay within the four walls of my apartment not only for my safety but the safety of others. My only solace/consolation was that my husband was also COVID-positive, so at least we had each other’s company. COVID was not only a pain physically, mentally, but even financially. As contagious patients, we didn’t want to be anywhere near the public, not even for our basic grocery shopping. We had to order absolutely everything via delivery services. Even basic snacks like chips and Gatorade from the local 7-Eleven was a total of about 20 dollars because of taxes and delivery tips. Plus, it was also difficult to focus on making money since looking at a screen for too long made me dizzy. Working and making sales was impossible for me during this time.

Photo credit:Ohana Studios

Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned from The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)

My number one life lesson was: FOMO is worse than the actual MO. FOMO of course stands for “Fear of Missing Out,” which is colloquially used by the young folks to mean the feeling you get when your friends or others go to a fun event/activity and you cannot go because you have another obligation or limitation. During the pandemic, I saw many of my friend groups still bar hop and attend social gatherings without respecting the initial CDC restrictions. However, my closest friends and I stayed home. We agreed to stay home for the safety of ourselves and others and we supported each other for that decision. With this newfound solidarity and sudden support for “missing out,” I didn’t feel the pressure to go out and be social anymore. And what’s more, I was complimented on my decisions for staying home! As the pandemic went on, I saw fewer and fewer posts on social media of people going out. The world had turned inside out. Being an introvert who naturally wants to stay home was suddenly a good thing. It was as if there were no more social pressures! No more questions on Monday at the office of “how was your weekend?” and having to compete for the best anecdote. Slowly but surely, fewer and fewer people went out. People weren’t posting stories of crazy parties or “Sunday Funday” brunches anymore. And what I felt was a loud resounding WEIGHT off my shoulders. Thanks to missing out, I found that my mental health improved. I was happier, calmer, and less stressed. It’s crazy how much these invisible social pressures of having to post a fun “story” on my feed every weekend dictated my life — to the detriment of my mental health! Social isolation taught me that missing out can be the best thing for me. I spent more time with my husband and dog which made me feel happier, calmer and fulfilled as a person. It was the fear of missing out that was way worse.

The second thing I learned was that my mind craved, nay, ENJOYED, “me” time. The times that I found myself most creative, energetic, and fulfilled was during social isolation. I wrote a song that wasn’t half bad. I even stained my first piece of furniture ever! I felt so much more productive and effective when socially isolated than I ever had before in my adult life. The only other times I remembered being this productive and creative was when I was a child in Venezuela and kept a book of my songs and stories I wrote. Childhood was the only other time in my life when I felt unbothered: with no social pressures, no judgments, and pure creative potential with so much free time. Normally, as an adult, free time is a stressor. It indicates that I must be misusing my time if I have extra time. Surely, I must have forgotten to do something. Either A) I probably need to clean up a terrible mess somewhere, or B) maybe I had free time because I was a freak? Maybe I had free time because no one wanted to spend time with me? Was I a banished loner? But with the pandemic, everyone was forced to be a loner! Even the most charismatic personal trainers I followed on Instagram were now posting stories of cycling at home — ALONE! This mere distinction gave me the freedom from self-judgment and allowed me to ENJOY my free time and be proactive with it.

The third thing I learned is that I did not detest sports or physical activity, I just had not found the right one. For some reason one night scrolling through Facebook, and I saw an ad that popped out at me. I decided to make a late-night impulse buy and purchased an aerial yoga set. I had no idea what I was getting into, I’d never heard of it. In fact, I typically hated yoga for being so still, so I really don’t know what possessed me that night to push the “Add to Cart’’ button except maybe pure, unfiltered boredom. Within a few days I received my set. I followed instructional videos on YouTube and soon was capable of routines much more advanced than beginner-level. Maybe it was thanks to the gymnastics class I took as a child? For some reason, I found the routines just challenging enough to excite me but not too challenging that they would defeat me. After just a few months, I transitioned into a full-silk aerial hammock. I had my in-laws help us hang it from my patio ceiling. I didn’t know that I could love any physical activity that much. The only other times I had this fun adrenaline rush was when I was jet skiing or zip-lining at El Yunque in Puerto Rico, but aerial sling was affordable and feasible to do right in my own backyard!

My newfound love for aerial acrobatics opened a whole creative side of me I did not know I had. I mean I knew I could be creative musically and artistically but being creative with my body was a whole new world of adrenaline rush for me. Now, I know that I can always rely on a bit of aerial sling a day to cheer me up. Even just 20 minutes has proven to eliminate my anxiety completely. I’m so blessed I discovered this new side of life that I never thought I would get to experience.

The fourth thing I learned is to rise above mass panic. With the constant chatter around me about COVID-19, the new death tolls on TV, and my own family’s stories of so-and-so’s friend passing away from COVID, it was rough to not let this affect me at first. Even some of my young and healthy friends were driven into complete hysteria by the media. They locked down their doors and would not leave their homes during the first trimester of the pandemic. I was trying to keep my head above water by taking precautions. I followed all CDC protocols. My husband and I would not get anywhere within 6 feet of distance between us and another group. We only hung out with friends that had confirmed “negative” test results and we all shared proof of the results. We had groceries delivered and even stopped taking our pet to the dog park for fear of contracting it from other dog-lovers. We did go out to the occasional restaurant dinner with friends, but it was at places where we had called ahead and asked for outdoor seating, far from crowds. And YET, a few days after his birthday, my husband tested positive. Working at a public university where the state looked for workarounds and technicalities in CDC protocols, he had been forced to lead tours with smaller groups of visiting students and parents. While they all wore masks, he does believe this was where he caught COVID. Of course, I soon followed with the same diagnosis. Immediately we were inundated with text messages, phone calls, emails, and even LinkedIn messages offering support, advice, and motivational quotes. It was as if everyone already thought we were goners. I had to focus my attention solely on the messages of family members that wanted a quick update, which I answered, and proceeded to throw on blinders for everything else because if COVID did not kill us, certainly panicking would. My husband and I avoided all things COVID. We went on movie-binging marathons from our bedroom, ordering delivery sushi and dessert, as if it was an all-inclusive, paid vacation. In between movies, working (somewhat), and naps, three or four days passed. Eventually, we began to manage to keep our eyes open longer than two or three hours a day. Finally, we reached the light at the end of the tunnel. We were out of the woods. I attribute the majority of our swift recovery to “keeping calm and carrying on.” We gave COVID the importance it deserves but chose not to panic. I hope this lesson stays with me in the future when all hope seems lost or mass hysteria ensues, the most important thing is to keep your cool as much as possible.

Finally, the last thing I learned was to be pickier with my social time. I understood from socially isolating that most of the “social agenda” I kept was just to keep up with my friends on social media. For instance, I did not want to be the only one not doing shots on ladies’ night, froyo outings on ladies’ days, and brunch mimosas on Sundays. But when I would go out and do these things pre-pandemic, it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. I either wasn’t enjoying the outing since I was exhausted from a week of hard work, or I was just uncomfortable with the massive eating and drinking that I felt I was overdoing just to fit in with the girls. And don’t even get me started on clubbing! Even just the prospect of clubbing used to excite my very soul. Throwing on my best getup with four-inch heels and a recently contoured face, I walked up to a club feeling like a million bucks. After the first five minutes, when the selfies were over and the first “boomerang” video of a round of shots was taken, everyone instantly went on their phones. I thought clubbing was a place for dancing and connecting, but no longer. After just an hour of standing around in four-inch needles, I would typically call my husband to pick me up and take me homemaking up some excuse to my friends that I had to run home for the dog or something. Thanks to the pandemic, we kept our social groups small and our social activities even smaller. The groups were limited to people that we liked and trusted, technically we trusted them with our lives because we demanded that everyone be COVID-negative when we gathered. We also only gathered when there were BIG plans such as a birthday bash, a Fourth of July cookout, or a kayak adventure. Since we were willing to risk exposing ourselves to the outside world when my husband and I socialized it was for events that were worth it. That saved us so much energy, so much time, and not to mention money! We realized we have to be choosy with our resources (time, energy, money) because these are limited! And when we do decide to socialize, we have to be sure it will be a quality experience.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?

“Life is too ironic to fully understand. It takes sadness to know what happiness is. Noise to appreciate silence & absence to value presence.”

― Abhysheq Shukla, KARMA

As a millennial woman in a social media, hype-obsessed culture, it took the absence of having to post something provocative every single week to get a grip on what really matters to me. The complete extinction of showcasing any form of socialization online thanks to the new dogmas of pandemic life made me value the peaceful silence of privacy and isolation. Thanks to the pandemic, my social worst-case scenario happened. I avoided socializing for months and months which led to many unexpected effects including boosted creativity and a social media cleanse which — shockingly — did not kill me. I survived. I came out better on the other side. With this new happy and healthy state of mind, I can now achieve things I never thought possible, like starting my own eCommerce store.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to meet and work with Ana Gavia, the genius creator behind PinkColada. I know she won’t want to divulge all her secrets, but I would love to get her guidance and input on how she built her bikini empire with just 5 dollars a day on Facebook to the earnings of 1.5 million dollars Australian dollars per year. She literally has the story that I dream of having one day. I would very much love to pick her brain on how she got the idea for her first bikini design and how she made her first sale. Much like me, she says she only had 200 dollars in the bank to start her shop. I admire all the work she’s done and the hurdles she’s overcome to have such a successful swimwear line today.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please follow me on Instagram or my YouTube channel at:

https://www.instagram.com/livingfantasea/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDoa3cyx6e7wzXwqmfL9BFQ

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.


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