You heard it here first kids, the latest thing is... staying home.
I know, I can hear you. "Alicia, lockdown is SO 2020/21. We're not about that life anymore. The odd mandatory isolation, sure, but we go out now. Offices, cities and stuff."
Except... maybe you're not saying that.
Maybe, instead, you breathed a deep sigh of relief when I said we're still into staying home.
If you're anything like 89% of the people I asked this question on LinkedIn, you might be feeling like a bit of a hermit. Check out these results after just a few hours!
Time got weird
I've spent much of the last year (or three?) in a beige fugue state, but I've recently realised that I'm not the only one. Everyone I've asked about this has admitted, somewhat guiltily, to a similar vibe. Many of us have spent months, if not years, enjoying the comfort of home and wondering what happened to our old selves.
My friend Glenn and I played detective over brunch recently, trying to fill in the gaps.
"How long has it been since we hung out? Have I seen you this year? Hold on, was it... JUNE?!"
Time's been a bit like that. Weeks or months go by and if someone asks what I've been up to I go blank trying to think of something. Well, something other than "I don't know, I went to a meeting and had a shower? I think I read a book? Then 6 months went by?"
You're not weird
Feeling weird is painful. The threat of exclusion activates the same brain circuits as physical pain, because we're wired to feel part of a group - even if we'd rather do that from a distance. The good news is: you are part of the group. If you've been feeling a bit hermit-y, you can count yourself amongst an overwhelming majority right now.
Resting and recalibrating at home while the world has become a tricky, murky place is a totally sensible response. Between lockdowns, isolation, fear of sickness, new working norms, awkward social interactions and new hobbies and interests... why wouldn't you feel like this?
It's not just sensible. For many of us, it has been truly joyful.
It's totally fine
None of this means you have a problem. There are some interesting questions for us to start asking about what this might mean - for civic engagement, urban centres and social habits - but I can tell you for absolutely certain that there is nothing wrong with you.
After years of trying to overcome, discipline or ignore most of my physical impulses, I've finally started listening to my body. Whether I was training for marathons, fighting off a cold or resisting a sugar craving, I spent almost all of my life up until now assuming that what I desire must be wrong.
It's only in the beige-ness that I've started to first, listen to what I feel and then secondly, trust it. If I feel tired and reclusive, I lean all the way into that vibe and trust I'll want social time again when it's right for me. Lo and behold, I was out laughing and drinking espresso martinis last Saturday, which would have seemed unheard of a few weeks prior.
If I feel sick or unmotivated, I'm doing my best not to be punitive or fearful about it. I trust that my creativity, purpose and passion will reignite soon, and in the meantime, I go with what my body is asking for. Sure enough, when the guilt and obligation is removed from the equation and I simply relax, new inspiration and excitement starts bubbling up - i.e. the Alicia McKay Show! - and without me having to self-flagellate to get there. Who would have thought?!
I don't have the answers, and I don't know what's coming next. Maybe this is a phase. Maybe this is you now. Maybe you've lost your identity but it's on it's way home. Maybe you're getting a new one. Maybe it's just having a nap. You probably don't know yet, and you probably don't need to.
Just don't spend even one second feeling guilty, ashamed or frustrated about any of the choices you've made throughout the last couple of years - socially, professionally, financially, personally, any of it. You're doing great, Nikki.
You'll figure it out. You will give yourself what you need, when you need it. Trust that if your body whispers "I'm tired" - then it is tired, and you need to rest. Trust that if you want to stay home for a bit longer, that's what you need, and you'll go out when it's right for you.
TL;DR: COVID was weird, time got weird, we felt weird, and now most of us are hermits. There's nothing wrong with it, and we'll work it out as long as we trust ourselves.