In my recent posts, I have covered a variety of pandemic experiences. It all started when my friend in California posted about his ER visit on Facebook. With his permission, I shared his story in The Stories That Don’t Make Headlines.
His story inspired me to start the Tell Me About Yourself series by asking my other friends about their experiences in the time of Coronavirus. I learned things about them that I would not have known otherwise—or at least known as quickly and as deeply.
My friend who lives in the New Jersey area outside of New York City had to put her IVF plans on hold. My other friend who lives in Iowa found that the pandemic made her stay-at-home life as a mom easier. Another friend in the Boston area realized that he wanted a more interesting life after the pandemic. My de facto cousin in Manila figured out what parts of her pre-pandemic lifestyle were extra. My cousin in the Chicago area has enjoyed the solitude of quarantine life, but her independent self still really misses people.
Today we will follow my friend who already has had a few major life changes since the pandemic started. He left his job, lost his father, and moved across the country.
What losses have you experienced since the pandemic started? How have you responded to them? How do you hope to move forward?
This Q&A has been edited for clarity.
Tell me about yourself.
I am in my late 30s and single with no kids. I recently moved from the Bay Area to the Boston area to live with family.
What was your life like before the pandemic?
My life before the pandemic was one of markedly less anxiety.
I remember spending quality time with friends and not worrying about getting sick when leaving my house. I also miss going to restaurants and traveling freely.
I used to watch my favorite late night talk shows, which provided a daily dose of laughter to my life.
I was also starting a new job so I was going into the office daily.
What is your life like now during the pandemic?
When the pandemic hit, it took a huge toll on my ability to make critical connections when I was forced to work from home. That and other factors ultimately led to me leaving my job. Now I’m in the difficult spot of looking for a job when no one is hiring.
Though I did like the convenience of working from home, it also felt very isolating which exacerbated my depression and anxiety. I have since moved back to the Boston area and am temporarily living with family, which is nice because it feels less isolating, but it also robs me of my independence.
I’m worried about moving out for fear of feeling isolated again. I also have not been able to do things for or with dear friends that I’ve been apart from for so long.
Dating is impossible right now, and that is something I would like to do.
What have you learned through this experience? To what extent does this clarify or confuse what you want from life?
The pandemic has taught me the true value of human connection. I recently lost my father suddenly due to an unknown cause. I partially blame the pandemic for his passing because he was very isolated and suffered from severe depression.
Above all, the pandemic has reaffirmed to me the value of personal relationships and the need to take advantage of them while you still can. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
What do you hope to experience in the future?
I look forward to life after the pandemic—whatever that looks like. Some things I don’t think will ever return to “normal” and even if they do there will still be the fear that something like this could be lurking around the corner again. Some things like meat shortages, hand washing, and the reduced carbon emissions associated with working from home and reduced travel seem like good things, but they of course come with a huge economic cost.
I look forward to returning to work, regaining my independence, and seeing my friends without fear that I might infect my family and vice versa.
What action steps do you think you can take now?
All I can do now is mourn the loss of my father, take the recommended precautions, apply for jobs, and enjoy the time that I get with my family. There doesn’t seem to be another way to live.