Acclimating to a Pandemic

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  • by Jessup Smith

My home state, Ohio, is slowly opening its doors and attempting to reinvigorate our local economy following the first wave of COVID. While I anticipate facets of life to normalize again, I know that I’ve been fundamentally changed by the experience and will move forward with new knowledge and self-awareness that will inform how I reintegrate. 

For context, I’m a socially-driven three (Achiever) on the Enneagram in addition to being quite an extrovert. In light of the past few months, knowing these things about myself has been pivotal in maintaining sanity and even achieving some level of normalcy during the COVID-19 shutdown. 

**Cue drama...

At first, I was overwhelmed by the need to adapt; lamenting foregoing my daily workouts at the gym, evenings at the dog park and enjoying time with friends and colleagues in neighborhood bars and cafés. Missing my SEEK family, but being teased with their digital representations via seemingly endless Zoom calls exhausted me mentally. I watched in anguish as emails flooded my inbox telling me of delay after delay, rescheduling, and ultimately, cancellation of the events I was most looking forward to and emptying my calendar of the music, art and social interactions that bring me my most joy. 

But as the weeks went on, my mindset shifted and my behaviors followed suit. I began to find new types of joy to fill the voids created and created a new routine that was more mindful, slower-paced and rewarding in a different way. As a social human, I adapted to the strictures put upon us and as a consumer, I settled into brands, products and experiences that brought me comfort, taught me new things, and made me feel like my purchases were most impactful. 

Here's a breakdown of some adaptations I made (and which ones I foresee sticking with):

The Grocery and Cooking at Home

Before COVID: 

I’d usually shop between two and three times a week, hoping to ensure I always had fresh meat and produce and attempting to waste as little food as possible given I’d inevitably eschew some home cooking for spontaneous lunches and dinners out with friends and colleagues. 

During COVID: 

I limited myself to one grocery trip each week and would painstakingly plan out my meals for each day as well as anticipated evening snacks while watching Golden Girls or my newfound dive into the pits of reality TV. 

What I learned:

Exploring in the kitchen brought me a sense of achievement and was also a source of fun for me. Finally cracking open some otherwise decorative cookbooks empowered me to push myself and create something delicious and experiential for me and my partner.

The money I saved dining in allowed me to splurge on ingredients for exploration in cooking while also freeing up extra money to use in supporting local restaurants when ordering my weekend meals out. 

What I envision moving forward:

I’m smitten with cooking now and want to continue the more relaxed weekly routine of being home and trying new things. 

Investing in new cookware is top of mind for me right now as I’ve discerned the necessity for equipment that was, before COVID, “out of my league.”


Shopping

Before COVID:

Given my gym is (too conveniently) located near some of my favorite shops, I probably visited TJ Maxx and HomeGoods at least once a week to peck around for workout attire, festival clothes, reasonably priced candles, kitchen gadgets and random upgrades to home accessories.

During COVID:

Any potential purchase was motivated by a specific need or impetus of curiosity, largely centering around ways to improve my living space, because now I was actually living in it - all the time. 

Plants and decor were paramount, so I rearranged furniture, bought new planters and plants and maximized the green in my space.

I also bought picture frames and other items to display memories of those I love and of times I cherished. 

What I learned:

I enjoyed being home more, in a space of my design and even grew to appreciate some level of isolation because it afforded me time to reflect on everything that meant the most to me. 

What I envision moving forward:

Though I am eager to go on “hunting” trips at my favorite stores, I’ll definitely be doing more research upfront to ensure these ventures are fruitful and plan to do more shopping online thanks to the (too) helpful algorithms that drive my exposures to goods they know I’d love. 


Fitness

Before COVID:

The gym was a place of solace and reflection for me. I’d go five to six times a week and sweat out the stress from life (and earn points through our wellness program to convert into dollars for digital spending). 

During COVID:

With all gyms closed, I was forced to adapt to working out at home or outside. Most retailers online struggled to keep equipment in-stock so I repurposed gallons of water, heavy potted plants and seating to have a makeshift gym in my living room. 

What I learned:

I know how important the idea of a destination is for me as it relates to fitness. Even though I’ve been able to accommodate making my apartment an office, a gym and a home, I don’t want it to serve all of these purposes. 

What I envision moving forward:

The very moment I’m able to get back into my gym, I will. And I will appreciate the ability to do so that much more. 


While I know there are many other facets of life that I’ve learned lessons from COVID in, these stand out as having been the most impacted and taught me the most about what I want to lose ASAP or continue with willingly. 

I’m curious to see how things have changed for you and how you perceive COVID’s impacts on others. If you have any thoughts or questions you’d like to share, please reach out to me directly at jessup@seekcompany.com