My pre-pandemic answer to “Do you want to …?”, would almost always be “YES!” (within reason).
I’d say yes to some outrageous stuff – sometimes not even knowing if it was even possible to do. I always just figured out how to make it happen, as I went along, and, most of the time those yeses made for some memorable and magical moments.
It was those yeses got me through the pandemic. Memories of chances taken; wild ideas turning into experiences I never planned to do; desires (I didn’t even know I had) fulfilled. I have been so thankful to pre-pandemic me for living in those moments. Seeing the joy, and possibilities for joy, and just going for it.
During these last, long, two years, I’ve been counting down to the days when nos and can’t could become yeses and can do. The thing is, now that it is possible to say yes again, I’ve been retreating back into the pandemic safety zone of no/I can’t (an answer that used to make me feel uneasy). Two years of staying home and saying no, to keep others, and myself, safe, is hard to get rid of.
Truth be told though, it’s not always the safety element that is making it hard to say yes. Something has happened during this time that has been unsettling. My confidence has taken a knock. Things I was certain of, I’m not so sure about anymore. If I’m asked to go to a social event, my instinct is to say no.
The extra kilos I am carrying has made me very self conscious and I’ve lost my clothing mojo. I feel like I don’t know what to wear anymore. I never used to wear athletic gear in public – only if I was working out. Now I don’t think twice about it as, the gear has been something I can hide behind. Being in my sports gear makes me feel like I can go about unseen, be invisible. I don’t want eyes on me.
Zoom has become another safety net. It’s another place where I can go to hide. I still get to engage with people and have a laugh but they only get to see half of me. I get to be invisible while being visible – does that make sense?
I’ve stopped putting myself forward for stuff. I’ve declined things that have been offered – both socially and professionally. Imposter syndrome is starting to sneak up and it’s getting harder to push back.
It’s taken my friends and family gently nudging me in the direction of saying yes for me to get out there. I’ve not always been happy with them in the moment, but, when I am at the thing I have said yes to, I am grateful.
I want to jump on the YES again. I really do. I want to find the exhilaration of being out of my comfort zone and yet still feel good about myself and confident that I will make it.
I need to remember that home is not the only safe space anymore – so is the outdoors and the great unknown. It’s time to jump out of the zooms/computer screens and get all of me back out there.
I know it’s going to take lots of small steps, so here is the first of (hopefully) many of those yeses. It’s not a big deal to anyone but me but I am going to put this piece out there. I am going to press “Yes I do want to publish this” – even though that little voice is telling me otherwise.
Here’s to YES!
Such a great, honest piece Sarina. I can absolutely relate. Really hard to jump back into normal life again. We’re so hard on ourselves but you are so absolutely brilliant at what you do and you do it with such spirit, grace and kindness. That will never change. x
Thanks so much Clare. I hope you’re doing well and you’re getting your novels out there x