8 Things I've Learned During Furlough Life

7 May 2020

'Furlough' isn't a word that I'd heard before all of this lockdown stuff started kicking off and it wasn't something that I ever thought I would hear, but here we are! Yes, towards the end of March, I was furloughed, which means that I've been staying at home, not working, and taking 80% of my salary from the government. It's been weird and sometimes really difficult to wrap my head around, but I'm plodding on and getting on with it.

If my calculations are right, at the time of writing this post, I've been living the furlough life for seven weeks now, which is baffling to be honest. It's gone so quick, but so slow at the same time! But because I've almost had two months of this new lifestyle, I thought that I'd sit down and write a post about the things I've learned from it. Granted, most of these things won't apply to everyone - I know a lot of people who are having totally different experiences and I guess this isn't a 'one size fits all' - but I definitely think there are some things that I can take away from this whole saga, and I fancied sharing them with you all.

1. I'm not as introverted as I thought
Being a bit afraid of social contact and having 'single person' hobbies led me to believe that I was an introvert - no questions asked, 100% loved having time alone. And to some extent, I still think I am an introvert. I find happiness in quiet time and having moments to myself, but my gosh, hours and hours on end every day to myself has been hard. I've craved human contact so much and having Matthew about on an evening has helped, but wow, do I feel drained after a day alone! I usually avoid human contact and feel perfectly fine, but when the human contact is taken away not by my choice, it's a whole other ball game.
2. I'm anxious about going back to the way things were
On the flip side of having minimal humans in my life, I'm so nervous about my life changing all over again and going back to the way things were. I'm worried about transitioning back into work and picking up where I left off - like, will I have forgotten how to do everything? Will my work be up to scratch? Will I be able to keep up? And I'm also anxious about the overwhelming amount of people I'll have to see every day, which is daft after I said that I'm not as introverted as I thought, but I can't dip my toe back into the world of always being around people. I'll be thrown in head first and that terrifies me.

3. Social media is a godsend
Over these past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about history and how people coped during the wars. I know it's such a millennial thing to say, but thank goodness for social media. We've got the ability to speak to people and reach our friends and family from all around the world, right at our fingertips. It's a total blessing and maybe I took it for granted a little bit before, but during this lockdown, it's been a gem. I've loved being able to talk to other furloughed workers, as well as my blogging pals, work friends and my family, all at the push of a button.

4. I get joy from cooking and cleaning
I'm not entirely sure what this point says about my stance on feminism, but being a fan of cooking and cleaning definitely doesn't take away from the fact that I'm also a career girl. Why can't I chase my self-employment dream whilst also making buttermilk chicken and washing the dishes? I've enjoyed planning meals and cleaning around, and granted, I'm not great at both - I get distracted very easily and find things that end up being more fun. But when the kitchen is sparkling or I dish up a spot on homemade parmo, it just sends me.
5. Make time for hobbies
I'm lucky in that I'm a person who likes to dabble in hobbies and see what fits, which is something that I've done a lot of during my furlough period. Obviously, blogging is my one true love and I've poured my heart and soul into it over these last few weeks (and I like to think that it's shown), but I've also been playing about with different crafts. I've been embroidering, doing watercolour painting, trying my hand at calligraphy and I'm about to give macrame a go. Giving time to try all of these things has really helped my mental health and kept me calm, as well as given me a bit of purpose. When I start a project, I want to finish it! So making time for hobbies is something that I definitely need to do more after this is all over.

6. Baking is always a good idea
In a similar vein to all of my new crafty hobbies, I've picked baking back up and it's been brilliant. Me and Matthew have done a bit of baking almost every weekend, which has been fab, but we've also been baking at odd times in the week, just because we crave a bit of cake sometimes. Last night, for example, we stayed up and made a self-saucing chocolate cake until 11:15PM, because we really wanted something sweet for after out dinner. It's been another thing that's helped mt mental health and it's been good to bond over it with my fella.

7. It's ok to feel fragile
I'm always gonna be the first person to hold my hands up and say that furlough life definitely hasn't been easy. The beginning was extremely tough - I felt like I wasn't good enough, like I didn't work hard enough, that I didn't contribute enough - and that simply isn't the case. My mindset has shifted since then, but along the way, I had dark days where I didn't want to get out of bed, I cried a lot and I just felt generally rubbish. And it's totally fine to have days like that. We're only human and no one expects you to be Hercules strong all the time. One day at a time!
8. Furlough life won't last forever
While it feels like this new way of life is something that I'm going to have to do for months and months, I know deep down that it won't last forever. And because it won't be sticking around, I need to make the most of having the time to myself, so I'm throwing myself into all the hobbies I've been enjoying, all the blog stuff and all the conversations. When furlough life is over, I won't have all this time to myself and I'll go back to the work routine, so I'm doing all that I can to make sure I see this period as 'me time', rather than something bad. It's a mindset that's definitely helping me through and reminding me to be grateful of this temporary break. Then once it's over, I can go give my mum and and dog a squeeze, I can buy flour again and I can go out to eat!

If you're living the furlough life, I would love to know what you've learned from it. Or if you fancy sharing what you've learned from lockdown, drop me a comment below!

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