Pre- Quarantine Morning Routine: 7:00 AM. Alarm goes off. Wake up. Shower. Get dressed for work. Have breakfast. Exit the house for work.

Quarantine Morning Routine: 8:00 AM alarm goes off. Wake up. Brush my teeth. Sweep and mop the 1000 square feetof floor area. Shower. Get dressed for work from home. Have breakfast.  Enter the bedroom for work.

Runner-Up | RTF Designer’s Days of Quarantine 2020

Category: Essay Writing
Participant: Devi Thakker
Profession: Designer
City: Mumbai

I am a person who lives for routines. Lives well because of them. Fortunately, and unfortunately, we are living in unprecedented times. Fortunately, because we can all make our rules and find our own ways to cope with it. Unfortunately, because there are no set rules or guidelines to help us get through this. Other than washing your hands and staying at home, I mean.

Along with being a routine person, I am an interior designer. So, my brain is trained to think freely but within boundaries. It needs the 4 walls, along with the empty space between them to create something fantastic. It needs the client requirements, along with the freedom to go crazy with ideas. It is always about the balance, they say. So, it does not come as a surprise to me why me and my brain were finding it difficult to cope with the unpredictable extremities of this lockdown.

Apart from being an interior designer who is a routine follower, I am also an overthinker. Like a hobby, I do it pass my leisure time. I said it like that because it gives me the illusion that I am the one controlling it and not the other way around. Yes, I am a control freak too. So, to avoid overthinking that makes me realise that I do not have much control over my situation, I decide to minimise my leisure time. This meant involving myself in different activities. So, I started working out. I started baking. I started painting. I started an online writing course. I started binge watching on Netflix. I started reading again. I started all the above while following my quarantine routine and working as a full-time interior designer.

If you think I was going to burn myself out by the end of first 21 days, you are wrong. I burned myself out by day 15. I began to feel unmotivated to get out of bed and follow my precious little routine that helped me get through my days. So, I stopped doing everything. Except sweeping and mopping because my mother made it a mandatory chore for me. A numbness started to settle in where I stopped caring about all my responsibilities. I started feeling cranky and upset that led me to fight with my family. In hindsight, I now realise I did all that so that my family would leave me alone and let me sink into my thoughtlessness in my dimly lit bedroom. I grew cynical toward nature so I stopped drawing my bedroom curtains and I would angrily shoo away birds sitting on the windows of my house. I was upset and angry and numb and lost, all at the same time. I was starting to realise that I had pretty much zero control over my situation and I was stuck at home with 4 other humans.

Sometimes you know the answer to your problems, but you just need to hear it from someone else. Like you can cook your own pasta, but you still like to order in. Or maybe that’s because you are lazy or a bad cook. That was a bad example, but you get what I am saying right? Also, I knew venting to people about my feelings always helped me.

But I knew that I couldn’t talk to my family or close friends about it. They would worry too much, and I am someone who likes to take my own time and path to feel better. I decided to vent to some new people that I may or may not have met on dating apps. This felt like a good decision because those people would feel like I was trusting them enough to open up about my feelings and I could receive the right amount of empathy from them. Without judgements.

As I had thought, everyone gave me the same advice that I was trying to give myself. That I did not need to turn this quarantine into a productivity contest and burn myself out. You can say “I told you so” if you would like. Now that I had received the echo of my own thoughts from people around me, I decided to follow the advice. So, the following weekend, I did that. I did nothing. Nothing crazy, I mean. I did all the things that one would typically do under the name of self-care. I lay in bed all day, watching some on my favourite shows and reading. I only got up to eat and use the washroom. I let myself overthink followed by giving myself a reminder that I was still living a good life. I let myself mindlessly stare out the window and at the sky, like I used to when I was a child.

By Sunday afternoon, I started to feel better. I felt like I was in control and it only felt like that because I let it all go. I felt like I was on a beach, feeling the waves of the ocean on my feet, washing away the sand from underneath my feet. And yet, I did not feel scared. I felt like I was in control because I was standing still and strong on my two feet. I started to focus on the breeze in my hair and face and I reminded myself to breathe.

The following week, I listened to my heart and my body. I opened the curtains and I did not dress up to work from home if I did not feel like it. I did not work out because it felt like I was forcing myself to. I did not clean the house if the morning every day. I would sleep in a little more in the morning and did the chores in the afternoon when I would need a break from work. I started to feel creative about my designs again and I stopped criticising myself for every bad idea. I just let myself be.

Feeling down on some days is still not inevitable. But I am trying to let myself feel anxious. Trying to stay still while I let that wave wash over me and then catch my breath again. It is still an effort to not judge myself for not being supremely productive every day. But I am trying. I am letting myself do whatever it is that makes me happy or makes me feel like I am okay. After all, it is all about the balance, isn’t it? I realised that I don’t need to get the best out of myself to make the best out of my situation. Sometimes being just okay is enough to have a great day.

To sum it all up, I am doing whatever it takes to maintain my sanity (and insanity) while I am between these 4 four walls. And I have a feeling that I am going to have to do the same once I step out of these 4 walls.


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