Working Remotely In The Pandemic And The Realisations That Come With It.
I started a new job at the end of November, when I came to Berlin. It’s been nice, the people have been lovely, the work has been interesting and relatively satisfying. And despite that I’m in a figuratively empty apartment (I have an air mattress, an office chair, the box the chair came in for a table, and no kitchen), it’s been better than feared.
Yet, working remotely during the pandemic is hard. It’s hard because you lack all of the mechanisms normally used to demarcate work from non-work becaue you can’t leave the house, can’t meet people, can’t go out, leaving only an endless stream of “time before work” and a much larger stream of “time I should be working”. The already tenuous human connection to your coworkers becomes even thinner, and the task of not being a partial being becomes even harder.
The pandemic also messes with my ability to get situated: I moved to a large city, one I’ve never been to before and thus hardly know anybody in, but it is mostly dormant. As such, I don’t have people to see regularly, and so it becomes more isolated.
So, after we checked all the boxes on everything that’s bad on working remotely during the pandemic, let’s get to the parts that I’m enjoying about it:
- Not having to commute, especially during the pandemic, is excellent,
- Forcing me to be alone with my thoughts has raised quite a few points about my standards, ethics, thoughts and desires, and most importantly,
- I’ve realised that for the first time I’m unmoored in a sense that feels positive, rather than negative.
Let me explain. Before moving here, well, maybe before moving to the states, I’ve always had the “next big step” in sights. Finishing university, moving to the states, finishing school, getting work authorisation, everything had a next big goal after which everything opened up and I would be significantly more free to do what I wanted.
In a sense, this has happened: there’s currently not a single goal I’m waiting for that feels like I’m just waiting for it to come to pass. This leaves me to grapple with what I actually want, and that is a much harder task. The primary realisations so far:
- I’m a much more social creature than I thought. The times I was happy being a cave troll and spending weeks without deliberate social time are most definitely a relic of the past.
- On the same note, time spent alone and purely for my own sake is a treasure and I depend on having it for my sanity, and coping without having it is even harder than not having social time.
- The gradual removal of trauma and other baggage has left me with the realisation that I’m a far better person than I always told myself, and
- I enjoy being myself.
I’ve enjoyed the new people I’ve met on my own volition, I’ve enjoyed gradually working on myself and fixing long-standing problems, I’ve enjoyed tinkering and finding out what happens.
Amidst all of the pandemic/work induced fugue and depression, I’ve come closer to having lasting contentment, and that has been invaluable. I’m doing what I can to make sure that that stays that way after distractions become easier to attain again (I have a desktop coming, the plague might recede, furniture and cooking become a thing again), and I shall see where that leaves me then.