The waves of feelings rush in like the highest waves towering over the Hawaiian sands. Some days I am the professional surfer who can ride it like a champ. The news, statistics and warnings all hit me, but I still find a way to turn and tip my board whatever way I need to stay afloat. Other days, I am the newbie who cannot grab a wave to save her life. The emotions, stress, fear all overtake me until I head home, climb into bed and watch six (yes, I said 6) Sandra Bullock romantic comedies back to back. I can tell by looking on social media, we're all pretty much feeling the same. Some days are just better than others.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I was beginning a new chapter of life. I finally found a job that let me make my own schedule, paid well and didn't put me back in an office setting which I had so grown out of. I was pumped to get started and see where this all could lead. Would becoming a Shipt shopper be enough income? Would I like shopping for a living when I don't even like shopping for myself? Would my anxiety be a factor in this type of work environment? All the normal questions crept into my mind and the answer to all of them were YES. Yes, I can earn a hefty income. Yes, I absolutely love shopping for people. It's like a scavenger hunt each time. Plus, you get to see the store in a whole new way and learn about items that you didn't even know existed. Yes, anxiety is just a part of me. As Luka Bloom sang, "No matter where you go, there you are." The blessing about this new adventure is that when I feel anxiety creep in, I can change aisles and distance myself to catch my breath. I don't have to ask permission to take care of myself. The great part about this job is that I can take work when I want. I can bow out when I need a mental health day. I am no longer chained to a desk and on someone else's schedule. I am free.
Recently, I ran into the shopper with the most seniority in our area. He has done over 1,000 shops and has the jacket to prove it. His jacket is what actually caught my eye. "1k Shopper" I was in awe of one thousand as I humbly try to climb the mountain to fifty. I introduced myself and he explained that it's not this busy or lucrative normally. He still makes a nice living, but right now the iron is hot and so I got in at just the right time. He was so kind and for the first time in a while I realized that I am not alone. For a while there, I would watch Paul go off to work and on our lunch walks, I'd listen to my Mom talk about her job and I felt alone. I was home and not a part of anything. When I was at my desk job, I dreamed of being home and not having to deal with anyone or anything, but as they say "be careful what you wish for." This introvert who stumbles through life with a fistful of depression and anxiety actually craving to be around people? I was as shocked as anyone.
Staying home wasn't what I wanted. Even though that has been the goal since October 25th when I bid adieu to my desk job. Now I know the core value I was searching for was freedom. When you learn these things about yourself, you have to settle into the shift. It's not as if *BAM* you are a whole new person overnight. You really have to sit with it and learn how your values and perspective have changed over time. I only now (6 months later) have come to realize what I was truly seeking. Now I get to cultivate this new experience into a journey of finding more pieces of myself. What was so daunting has become a new lease on life. The amount of times I've recreated myself is now at 6. I have had 6 different pivotal moments in my life where I felt like someone new. May seem like too many to some, too few to others, but for me it is just the normal progression of self discovery and growth.
In this time of uncertainty, there will be a lot of growth for all of us. There are things we are going to go through and deal with that we have never dealt with before. I've become a better bread maker because for a little while we couldn't find bread. I finally tried my vegan burger recipe and made a ton of them to freeze so that we didn't waste any ingredients. Paul sharpened his sewing skills and made us both masks to wear when we venture out. Distilleries in the area have started making hand sanitizer. Some restaurants have turned their dining room into makeshift stores where the public can come buy bread, butter and essentials that are going unused due to lack of dining out business. There are so many ways that people are stepping up and making the most of the situation and it's so amazing to see. Looking after those who cannot go out is also a big piece of that. I check in with my Mom almost daily to make sure that she and my Grandma are healthy as well as ensuring they have what they need for their household. It's one thing I can do to be of service and keep them safe. That is now spilling over into my new career as well. It is so rewarding to be out there helping those who have compromised immune systems or want to adhere to the guidelines to stay home because they should not take all four of their kiddos to the grocery store. People are so appreciative and it is true what Phoebe (F-R-I-E-N-D-S reference) says "there is no selfless good deed." Truth to that. It is somewhat selfish because it makes me feel so good.
Thank you to all the families who are graciously staying home and either sending one parent out to venture for food or ordering groceries in. On the other side of the coin are those families or younger folk who think that this pandemic is a holiday. - Insert steam rising from my head here - STAY HOME. This is not a time to browse through the aisles at Target. This is not a time to try on clothes or grab a new rug for your living room floor. This is not the time to bring your family of 6 to the Toy aisle and let the kids run around so that you can finally tire them out somehow. This is not the time for you and your 4 friends (who are all still living at Cal Poly) to act rowdy, throwing footballs across aisles or taking up the entire game aisle debating what games you should buy because as you so obnoxiously screamed it "we're in a damn quarantine, ya know?!?!?!?!" - Insert eye rolls and people muttering under their breath: well then act like it here -
Why won't people listen? STAY HOME. STAY HOME. STAY HOME?!?!??! If you are not doing essential work, you should be home. When you go out to the grocery store, you should be getting in and out. Yes, Target is enticing with all it's other aisles, but right now it is best to pretend that Target is a grocery store. Get your essentials and get out. 4-5 friends or 2 parents and their 4 children should not be in the stores right now. Send 2 people or 1 parent. We have cell phones and video chat if you need direction or guidance whilst shopping. THERE IS NO EXCUSE at this point. We all know what is at stake and it so hard on the rest of the people who are just trying to follow the rules. I have no idea what it's like to be a parent, but I have very close friends who have little ones and they are home. Period. It's not fun and they wish they could walk around with their kiddos somewhere stimulating to burn some energy, but that's just NOT our reality right now. And those young folk... I just have no words. It is not partay time. There is no school for a reason. Think about that reason the next time you are thinking of going out and don't take the whole crew. I wish it was a let's go out for a fun outing time, but it's all about staying in. You can get creative and make memories inside. Also, no sports. It seems like a no brainer, but there are folks having full on volleyball, football and soccer games. Yes, IT SUCKS... I know, but just try and envision the germs and sweat you're touching when you catch that ball. Germ city! Just don't do it!
We have entered a new normal and it is difficult, but what would be more difficult is to hear that you infected a stranger or your friend or family member and they didn't survive. We all have a great responsibility to act in a protective manner for all of humanity. I feel that our collective spirit is changing and for the better. Change always brings discomfort and uncertainty. However, it is so beautiful to watch the caterpillar become a butterfly. We would never ask to go through something like this and nor do we want to lose people to an illness. Still, to every dark there is a light. To every day there is a night. Innovation and creativity are at an all time high. We are seeing so many people take a step back into themselves. We've been running so fast and not really focusing on what lies within. Now we have been forced to stop. What a blessing in disguise. We get to STAY HOME. We get to realign ourselves and see the world differently. We all get a chance to shift. So many caterpillars are in their cocoons right now. So many butterflies will emerge. What a beautiful day that will be...