At home for one year

The 19th of March, 2020 was the last time I visited the office, and there were only a couple of other people in.

Lockdowns have come and gone, restrictions have changed frequently and unexpectedly, and so I’ve lived the last 12 months as a hermit. Since that final day in the office, one year ago today, I’ve only left my flat once or twice a week, and that only to go shopping.

There is a vaccine now but, judging from the timeline, I’ll still be at home for a few more months.

The Good and the Bad

It feels a bit selfish to type this, but frankly I’ve been having a great time:

  • My sleep has improved. The lack of commute means I get an extra hour or so to lie in bed.

  • I’ve saved money. Partly due to the lack of commute, but also due to not going out to buy lunch. Even one or two lunches a week add up.

  • I’ve been reading more. I now have more energy in the evenings after the work day ends, so I’ve got back into the habit of reading before bed. And over 2020 I read 99 books.

  • I can cook whenever I want. I used to get hungry in the afternoons almost every day. One day a thought hit me: if I’m at home all the time now, I can cook a proper meal for lunch! And so I switched to having my main meal of the day for lunch, and a smaller meal in the evening.

  • I’ve started a second RPG group. I did get a bit bored after a couple of months, and so I reached out to some online friends to see if anyone wanted to play games. I’ve now got a group which has been going strong since May, and I’ve deepened those friendships.

  • I’m not in an open office any more. I don’t like open office layouts. I always feel like someone is peering over my shoulder and watching my screen. It’s not an issue with just my current job, it’s been an issue everywhere. At home, I know there is nobody watching me, and I feel much more relaxed, even when I’m not slacking off.

Of course, there have been a handful of downsides too:

  • I’ve not seen any friends. I’ve got a small group of friends who meet up a couple of times a year, and we’ve missed a few of those meetings. We’ve made do with Zoom calls, but it’s not the same.

  • I’ve not seen any family. I normally only visit home at Christmas, and Christmas got cancelled.

  • I came down with shingles. Not very fun, possibly caused by stress. I’ve got a few small scars on my forehead which, now that it’s been nearly 6 months, will likely not heal. However, other than that one week of illness, my health has been great.

But the upsides definitely outweigh these. I was already only physically meeting friends and family three or four times a year, so missing one year isn’t a huge change. It’s not like I’ve gone from hanging out with people at the pub every week to never seeing anyone.

…and the Strange

The weirdest part of the past year, by far, has been the discovery that a significant number of people just cannot cope with being alone, and break down after spending even a fortnight by themselves.

I was regularly spending weeks by myself even before covid!

It makes some sense though. I fill my time with reading, programming, playing RPGs, and socialising with online friends. Most people don’t do any of those to any significant degree (or at all). If everything you do for fun requires the physical presence of other people, the past year will have been tough.

I also have appropriate desk space, and don’t have noisy children or housemates. Being a loner with a nice flat during lockdown is life in easy mode.

I’m sure I will have to return to the office at some point, but I’ll fully enjoy being at home until then.