Welcome to the Lockdownland. The world has stopped but the life very much goes on. I must admit when I asked whether people would prefer a blog post about current events / life update or something completely unrelated I was surprised that the majority voted for current events. At the same time, I guess it’s not that surprising. Everyone seems to be in a similar situation yet at the same time our individual experiences differs greatly. That’s my observation from speaking with friends and seeing what everyone’s been sharing (or not sharing) on their social media channels. What about me? Well.

When life gives you lemons

A little over a month ago I started my shiny new job in the hospitality industry. Yeah. I was excited to be back. Everything from location, company, working hours to my new colleagues was exactly what I needed.

Until two weeks ago when cancellations started pouring in and it hit me that dynamics of the life as I know it are about to change. One day I woke up to a call from my mum. She urged me to come back home (in this context Lithuania) before the borders get closed because the whole country was going into quarantine. Sounds like a movie scenario? It certainly felt like one but I’ve studied drama for a reason.

On the same day, I had a meeting at work where I was informed that my position was being made redundant. Effective immediately. Until that moment I only knew what redundancy meant from my employment law reading. Naturally, redundancy wasn’t something I ever expected to happen to me. With two more months of university left and the situation around the world changing literally every hour, I had to decide what to do. Namely, whether to stay in the United Kingdom or pack my things and go back to Lithuania.

Suspecting this worldwide movie shooting might take a few weeks I wanted nothing more than to spend that time with my family. At the same time, I knew it wasn’t the right decision because my job involved directly communicating with people from all around the world and chances were I was (and maybe still am, who knows at this point) carrying the virus.

Don’t worry, I’m not experiencing any symptoms (touch wood), it’s just my social responsibility speaking. Besides, I still have my university and other unfinished business here in the United Kingdom which I am determined to finish one way or another.

use the seeds to plant a whole orchard.

Recently one of my lecturers told me that after you study / practise law for some time you develop a lawyer’s brain and the way you think changes. I’m sure those of you who have studied law will understand. I reminded myself how far I’ve come and by the time I got home from a work meeting, I already had plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H… and plan I, J and K just in case.

I think my brain might be broken because no matter how hard I tried to dwell on the negative thoughts (it felt like the thing I was supposed to do) something positive popped up and pushed me forward. Nevertheless, the first week at home felt surreal. Like a casual stroll in a Salvador Dali painting. There were no guidelines, no set instructions, familiar rhythm of the world shifted with no prior warning. I’m sure most of you felt the same way. Living through something our kids will be learning from the history books.

What confused my mind the most was that there was / is no escape route (unless you have a spaceship, then off you go). The whole world is being affected from so many perspectives. It didn’t help that the news from around the world kept pouring in via various devices, UK’s response varied greatly from that of Lithuania’s (which for once is not completely hopeless and makes me proud to be a Lithuanian). Anyway.

Throughout the week I’ve filled and sent out 115 (I counted) job applications. That’s what it took before I could secure a new job which will allow me to continue to develop in the area that I’m interested in whilst getting paid to do what I genuinely like. It sounds almost too good to be true and I still have nightmares that someone will call me tomorrow and say they have changed their mind.

Only read the following paragraphs if you’re here for the ‘heavy’ stuff. I’m trying to keep this light. The way I see it, this virus situation is successfully exposing what is rotten within our social structures and global economic order. That first week showed the true faces of many people around us. I find it ironic how whilst this was only affecting China nobody paid that much attention. Nobody besides scientists who warned everyone who was willing to listen. Chinese people quarantined at their homes for two months was ‘what they deserved’. It was ‘their’ problem but as I was and will continue to say (and write in all of my university essays…) the world we created can no longer be divided into ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’. Of course, this is keeping in mind that with so many various cultures and approaches now more than ever it’s also important to acknowledge and appreciate the differences. We were living better than ever before and when everything is good and comfortable it’s easy to relax and forget important investments that really matter when something unexpected (like a pandemic) happens. There are way more aspects worth looking at but I’m not going to expand any further, you get the main point.

Yes, this whole situation is extremely overwhelming yet at the same time I find it incredibly interesting. I like to think that in five years we will have a bunch of valuable research come out of this. Numerous findings that will directly contribute to improving our society. Maybe this is what it will take for people to finally start to care about voting. To understand why it matters who our government representatives are. I like to think that 2020 will go down in history as the year that highlighted what it means to be a part of the global human family. At least in my mind which is easy for me to say. I’m not experiencing domestic abuse and can #StayHome as if I’m taking a lovely holiday, my immune system isn’t compromised, I have plenty of food. I don’t have people who directly depend on me. Don’t get me started on the health system workers.

It goes without saying that I understand I’m not bulletproof (or should I say coronaproof). I’m aware of how fragile this calmness that I’m experiencing is. Ever since that very first time it hit me how privileged I am (I was maybe 6) I’ve been constantly carrying this invisible sting of guilt. The world was built around the way I was raised to think. A safety net was tied to my leg before I even knew how to walk. I tried to cut it but it’s always there. Don’t get me wrong, I worked extremely hard for everything that I have. Blood, sweat and tears. Literally. It’s about time (okay just this once) I own it. I can proudly say it in good conscience. All partly thanks to that sting of guilt. Instead of dwelling on it, we have recently became friends. It motivates me to stand up and do something about the way things are. Sort of an add on to my conscience. Moral software upgrade if you like.

I debated whether I should delete or keep the above paragraphs. Am I being transparent or is this oversharing? Does it make me sound immodest? How will readers interpret the meaning of my words? In the end, I decided to keep them because I always give my grandmother a hard time for not writing down her past experiences and this is all part of my learning curve. I don’t know how long it will take for me to fully process everything, there are enough speculations floating on the internet as it is. I’m sure in a year or two I will be reading this thinking ‘you knew nothing’ but this is precisely the thing that gets me out of bed and keeps me going.

That’s what I hope this blog post will inspire you to do. To take this as a lesson. To observe and see the world around you, to remain critical and not to get lost in the constant news float. Allow your mind to rest. It’s okay to have a little holiday at home if that’s what you need and can afford. If you want to bury yourself at work and it helps to get through – go for it. Feeling guilty? Perhaps motivated and want to use those feelings as fuel to go out and volunteer? Even better!

After weeks of unrest, today I feel myself again. Maybe even more than I felt a month ago. I can’t tell you how the new normal will look like. I can’t tell you how long it will take for our daily rhythms to return to what they were. Or how the new normal will look like.

What I can tell you is that tomorrow’s a new day.

Thank you

Grocery store clerks, truck drivers, medical professionals, restaurant workers, generous neighbours, warehouse workers, farmers, janitors, garbageman, sanitation workers, factory workers, childcare workers, education admins, teachers, residential home care workers, postal workers, those who are working with the homeless population, drivers, travel agents helping people come home, flight attendants, pilots, security guards and many more. (x)

Dear Gabriele Marija,

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