This time we have ample time to prepare. Unlike March 16, 2020, when everything suddenly shut down, this time is different. We’re going back to the office. I remember lockdown like it was yesterday. The kids came home from school excited that they were going to learn from home for a “few weeks.” I was just beginning to plan out our family’s relocation for the new job I had accepted just days before. Toilet paper was scarce but spirits were still high. We had no idea what was ahead and it seemed like an extended snow day. Wow, were we ever surprised.
Lockdown lasted months. Working, and workout out, at home transitioned from a novelty to a reality. Personally, I started to enjoy my home office. I was saving money and time. I was sleeping more and eating more healthfully. I didn’t need to spend money on new clothes, jewelry, makeup or shoes. I missed interacting with people and Zoom got old quickly, but those were small prices to pay for how stress-free being at home was for me. In a few short days, that honeymoon is over.
I work for New York State and all state employees are returning to their workplaces effective July 6. Today is my last at home day with my dog at my slippered feet and my full breakfast in my belly. Today is the last day I can have lunch with my family. And, it’s the last day my car doesn’t leave the driveway. I am feeling bittersweet.
I started my job nearly one year ago, July 9, during the pandemic. I have never gone to the office more than one day at a time and have never been together with my whole team. It’s been 15 months since I commuted every single day to the office. It’s been 15 months since I had to get up as early as 5 a.m. to get my workout in, as well as have time to shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and get all my things together for work. It’s been 15 months since I crashed on my couch at 8:30, unable to do anything because I was exhausted. These things contribute to my stress and anxiety in ways I never really understood until they were absent. But, they were taken away suddenly. I didn’t have to wonder what it would be like or plan for lockdown. It just came. This time is different.
I have been thinking about the return for weeks now. It’s not that I have anxiety about the actual going back to work part. It’s more that I have anxiety about missing my more relaxed life at home. I am worried about the increased spending of time and money with my one hour round trip commute. I’m not looking forward to the increased effort to meal prep and plan both for my own breakfast and lunch, as well as for the family dinners. I’m wondering what it will be like to be so far away from my family every day, and how challenging it will be to keep up with the family activities come fall when school and everything starts once again.
These are first world problems for sure. I am fortunate to have a wonderful job and healthy family. I know this. But, I also know that my world is going to change. Again. And this time not only do I have time to prepare, I also have time to be anxious. Here’s hoping this three-day holiday weekend will serve as a positive transition and break between two separate lives for me, and that the days, weeks and months ahead will go as smoothly as they possibly can. It’s not like we haven’t all done this before, right?