Everyone’s talking about what they’re learning through Coronavirus, about themselves, about their families, about the world. How priorities and values are changing, the worth of people in societies are changing. Like postmen and shelf-stackers weren’t valuable before?
Like people didn’t know that downtime was necessary, sleep was glorious and that it’s okay to stop for a while, to not have to keep pushing, achieving, doing, progressing. That it’s okay to just be.
I have an unusual position in all this. I’m currently living in Spain but grew up mostly British, instilled with British values. These British values include ambition, diligence, passivity, and the need to constantly be progressing. I retain my ambition but it has morphed and changed in recent years from being career-focused to being happiness-focused. During university, I suffered with depression, exhaustion, burn-out, and I decided that I didn’t like that feeling. I decided that I didn’t want to set limits for myself, job straight out of university, married by 30, kids by 35, that I had my entire life to do whatever the hell I wanted and after university, I wanted a break, and to be somewhere sunny.
So I moved to Spain.
Spain, especially Andalusia, the hot South, is relaxed, passionate, hot and hot-headed, creative, artistic, unambitious, funny, care-free, shouty. I found it hard to adjust to the pace of life here. I came here because I wanted to slow-down, but it was slower than I’d anticipated.
I managed, I slowed, I breathed and went for walks and settled and found a normal, steady job. At first I had meltdowns, why wasn’t I signing up to the gym!? Joining a sports team!? Joining a meet and greet group for expats!? Going out clubbing more!? Joining a choir!? Doing a dance class!?
After a while I realised that the reason I wasn’t doing those things is because I didn’t want to. Away from England, the pressure, the social norms, the questions, the suggestions, I was free to choose exactly what I wanted to do and it turns out that I didn’t want to do any of those things in that moment, and hey, I was still happy. Happier. Less stressed.
Give me a book and carrot cake over Legs, Bums, and Tums every day of the week.
Then Coronavirus comes along and confines us all to our houses. The world enters quarantine and Spain and England are particularly badly hit. Job security vanishes, activities shut down, people work from home, socialising stops. And suddenly, people are realising that this break is actually good for them, they’re sleeping more, arguing less, laughing more, crying less.
As if stepping off the treadmill of pushy, goal-driven, Western culture might actually feel nice… who’d have thought?
That money and fancy jobs and five trips to the gym a week don’t actually make you happy?
That people are now free to experiment with what truly makes them happy, instead of what makes them money. Which brings me to my first outcome.
A massive boom in creativity
People are at home, reading, painting, creating music, puzzling, playing, writing, drawing, dancing, making, baking, cooking. We suddenly have the freedom to do things we enjoy that don’t directly contribute to our physical health or bank accounts, the two things western society prioritises.
Funnily enough, all these things improve mental health which is becoming more of a priority, but still not enough.
I think that over the next year, couple of years, there’s going to be a massive increase in artists of all varieties producing and releasing creations of all kinds. There will be new music, new books, new paintings, new clothes, new recipes, new games.
And perhaps we will now prioritise more time to read, cook and play, and our artists of the world might be able to make a living off their crafts.
Hairdressers will loose a lot of business
Is it just me, or are we all cutting our own hair now and realising that it’s not that hard to do a straightforward trim? Especially on short hair.
I’m sorry about this, but neither me or my girlfriend will be going to a hairdressers from now on unless we want something truly special.
Introverts and Extroverts are more obvious
I’ve always tilted between introvert and extrovert, not quite knowing where I fit, but this quarantine has taught me that I am most definitely an introvert.
I have LOVED being in my flat all the time. I’m actually kind of worried for the world to start up again, I’m not ready to re-enter life. I don’t need many friends (just the few I do have I who I love to pieces, more so because they’re my only ones), I don’t need much social interaction, I don’t need attention.
If you asked me if I’d rather spend ten days on my own or ten days with ten people, I wouldn’t even need to think before immediately replying, on my own, definitely, on my own.
The extroverts of the world are the ones organising family gatherings on zoom, group calls with friends, game nights over apps. They’re suddenly contacting all the people in their past they’ve lost touch with, sending pictures of what they baked, what they wore, their garden to all the group chats they’re a part of. They’re on the phone constantly. Cycling through their frequent calls list every day.
The extroverts are frustrated, the introverts are in heaven, but I think the one thing we can all agree on is that, despite all the shit going on, it’s nice to take a break.
Disclaimer: I, OF COURSE, don’t think Coronavirus is a good thing and I constantly cry when reading the news, my heart goes out to absolutely everyone affected, infected, grieving and worrying, but this article is not about that. It’s okay to talk about the silver linings.