A Look-back on Life Before the Pandemic

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I want my life to be like once the pandemic ends. It may be just a fantasy for now, but, with vaccines being distributed I sense some hope in the air.

Before the pandemic I thought I was finally getting my life on track. I’d just accepted a new job that I was to start at the end of March. The new office was a short walk from my apartment and promised much better work life balance. I was looking forward to having more time spend with friends and to focus on training for the San Francisco marathon. I had family time on the calendar too – my sister was going to visit me in a few weeks from southern California and my parents and youngest sister had just booked flights out west from Connecticut.

I felt like everything in my life was finally coming together. 

Then, in the matter of days, it all unravelled.

Now, here we are, almost a full year later. We’re used to pandemic life now. Many of us are working from home, barely leave the apartment, and rarely wear anything other than sweatpants. Some are going to work, but they’re wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from co-workers. There are no Friday afternoon happy hours or meeting some friends at the wine bar to complain about how shitty our weeks were. 

The question is, do I really miss that? Do I really miss my life pre-pandemic?

For me, the feelings are complicated. Some weeks are filled with intense nostalgia for times that I never thought I would wish for again. Other weeks I think I’d like my life to stay like this forever. Most of the time though, there’s a balance. So I’m thinking, when life begins again, what will I want back, and what do I want to go without?

If you follow me on Instagram you may already know at least one topic that’s been top of mind – work. I asked on my Instagram story last week whether or not people were looking forward to going back into the office….eventually. The responses were, unsurprisingly, divided.

I also asked people to share their why– why they were or weren’t looking forward to going back to the office. My hope was to find some perspective on how others were feeling and maybe provide reassurance that we aren’t in this alone.

Still, regardless of how we feel or what we want, most of us aren’t going to have choice when it comes time to go back to the office. Our companies will say it’s time and we’ll go running back because we need our jobs, for better or worse. 

So, aside from work, what are some of the things that I miss about life pre-pandemic? What are the things that I will want to bring back into my life and what things will I want to live without?

New Friends. My favorite Instagram story response/argument for going back to the office was, “So I can make new friends.” It’s not just because the person who wrote this response just joined my team at work and I want to be best friends with her….no, pressure ;). It’s also because I’ve worked for this company for almost a year and have barely met my co-workers.

At my previous company I met some of my best friends and it’s hard now to not have friends at work. Even if I don’t find my new best friend at the office, it’s nice to just be able to build rapport and get to know the team on a personal level. At least for me, job satisfaction increases when I feel connected to the people I work with.

Happy Hours. Before the pandemic I actually started going to a Friday evening yoga class so I’d have an excuse to skip happy hour, or dip out early. I found that people are less likely to force you to take a shot when you’ve got a yoga mat in hand (shocking, I know). Overall though, I do miss happy hours. I don’t miss the excessive drinking and the pain I’d feel the next morning when I got up to meet my running group, but I do miss socializing with friends and co-workers. I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to grab drinks and bond with my new team.

Routine. If there’s one thing I miss the most about life pre-pandemic, it’s probably my routine. Since going remote, I’ve struggled with routine. It’s too easy to let myself sleep in or say I’ll just do it later when I know I’ll be home all day. Pre-pandemic though, I had the routine. I would wake up at the crack of dawn to workout. Some days I’d lift or take a spin class, but most days I ran. I’d run the Embarcadero and watch the sun rise over the Bay.

I miss it. I miss my walk from the gym to work. I normally hate crowds, but I miss the throngs of commuters stopped at the cross walk. I miss the random lady who paused to a minute to compliment me on my outfit. I miss settling into my spot in the conference room and making small talk with my team. I miss the walk home at night. I miss returning home exhausted, eating dinner, and then curling up with a good book as I dozed off to sleep. But most of all I miss doing it all again the next day. 

The Gym. While running has really gotten me through the pandemic, I miss going to the gym. Before all of this I was a member at Equinox, which according to it’s slogan, is even more than just a gym. “It’s not fitness, it’s life.” I have kept up an overall healthy lifestyle – I run, I strength train, and I eat a balanced plant-based diet. But I miss being around other people who do the same. I miss the community feel of being surrounded by other people who enjoyed spending their morning hours striving to improve themselves.

There are certainly many more things that I miss. It’s been so long there are probably little things I’ve forgotten how much I miss, like running into a friend on the street or smiling at a stranger. On the flip side, there’s one thing I don’t miss; the rush. I don’t miss pressure to constantly live a certain lifestyle, to always be out and about, to never take pause and reflect on what I’m doing and determine if I’m actually happy.

I’m grateful that the pandemic has given me this time to think and figure out what truly brings me joy. There were things in my life in March 2020 that weren’t serving me. I plan to leave those things behind and move onward to a better life. 

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