What COVID-19 can teach us about work and our lives.

You are in despair. You’re losing work, and so you’re losing income. You’re losing life as you knew it. You can’t go out, you can’t meet friends or customers. Your home, and you find that you have to work twice as much. Your company doesn’t trust you will be working at home, so they’re checking on you all the time. To be fair, you’re checking on yourself too. You don’t trust yourself to work hard at home so you work all day, non-stop.

And maybe you’re even working on your bed, which means you don’t even have the benefit of going to a place of relaxation, because your house is your office and your office is your home.

There are many sources out there that will intend to teach you how not to bring your work home, or, now that you are working from home, they will tell you to have a separate area for your work inside your home. This might be a good idea, provided it’s practical for you. Do you have a desk that you can devote solely for your work? Or do you have to use the kitchen table where you are all day surrounded by the rest of the family who is also working or studying at home?

They will tell you that you need to separate your work from the rest of your life, and they’re right. But the problem is not the physical space you inhabit. The problem is how much of your everyday life you allow to be absorbed by work.

And I’m not trying to say, in any way, that working is bad, that work makes life miserable. You’ll never hear me say it. What is bad, is the kind of work we do, the amount of energy we focus on soulless pursuits, on making money for the sake of money, of following other people’s or society’s expectations and guidelines.

And not only do we do this kind of work, but we give it all, our heart and soul, and our bodies too. And so we find ourselves unable to separate our working life from its other aspects.

But perhaps the truth is that we don’t want to separate those two. Because, what will be left of our life if we take work out of the equation? Many times we identify ourselves with the job we make and forget that everything we do in this life is but a facet of what we are. We are work, we are love, we are hope, we are anger, we are fun, we are absurdity.

But we choose to focus on that one aspect to define us because society has told us that our job is what makes us, that being busy gives us value, that without our external lives we’re nothing else.

Being “trapped” inside our homes has been an ordeal for many people for this reason. Because it faces you with who you are, with what you have allowed society to tell you about what you are and where you should be going. And right now, you realise most of that’s not true. That’s not who you are, and if you have been using work as an escape from the other facets of your life, you have been faced with the realisation that a) your work is not all you are and b) now your life and all that you reject or run from and your job are one and the same, they’re occupying the same space, and you have been forced to look at it all.

Use this great opportunity to finally face up to what has not been working for ages. Take a long, deep look at it and embrace it. Then decide what has got to change and start, little by little. Don’t be afraid.

You’ve got nowhere to go right now, anyway.




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