By Gabbi Traub
I recently read an article about the three questions you should ask yourself for your “Coronaversary.” The author also mentioned how the term “Coronaversary” wasn’t quite the right term considering it’s not something to celebrate, and I happen to agree. But there isn’t a better word for “the one-year mark for when the world shut down and everyone lost something due to a global pandemic.” So, Coronaversary it is.
But her questions were really thought-provoking, and I thought I’d share them with you, as well as my answers, or what I’ve come up with so far.
- Where were you last March?
I’m going to answer this question and all subsequent questions both literally and figuratively, because I think both are important to note, and because it really has changed for so many people.
Let’s see, last March, the Before Times. I was living in Jersey City, commuting 5 days a week to a job at a restaurant in Manhattan, and dreaming of a day when I wouldn’t have to work in the service industry anymore (LOL). I was overworked (though I didn’t know it at the time) and simultaneously stressed about money (I had just taken a week off work to attend a friend’s wedding out of state, and no, servers do not get PTO). I was exhausted, but complacent enough as I was making good money for easy(ish) work and thought I was “doing what I was supposed to be doing”. I was also happily cohabitating with my partner and the cat we had just adopted.
I remember thinking – man if I could just afford to take a month off of work and do nothing and reevaluate things maybe I could finally breathe and get my sh*t together. (Little did I know my wish would be granted, tenfold). Looking back I see I was doing it all to myself – I could have taken fewer shifts when I needed to, I could have buckled down and looked for a new day job. But I had always moved very quickly, filled my days to the brim, overworked myself until I had to completely shut down for a time and reboot.
- Where are you now?
Physically, still in JC living happily with my partner and our cat (who I have come to love more than any other creature in existence and that includes my partner – don’t worry, he knows and feels the same about her). But wow. This past year has kicked me in the a$$. I just hit my one-year unemployment-versary (this “versary” is also not quite so celebratory…). My restaurant still hasn’t opened back up, and I just didn’t feel safe looking for another restaurant job during the pandemic. Plus my partner works in healthcare and I didn’t want to add to our risk. I’m currently at a crossroads of what I want to do with my life in terms of profession, though my path has recently become a bit clearer. I am living in a constant state of limbo- and that has a lot to do with my partner’s career being up in the air as well. It’s hard to start anything new when you don’t have solid footing.
- How have you changed in the past year?
I could talk for days about how much I and my life have changed. Here are my most important highlights:
My priorities have shifted a lot. I have always been career first, relationship second. However, being with my current partner and making it through quarantine and covid together (so far) has honestly saved me, and, at least in my eyes, really strengthened our relationship. We’ve always been pretty good at communication, but having to share a space 24/7 while having totally different personalities has been quite a…challenge. This was definitely a make-it-or-break-it scenario for so many couples and I just got lucky. I wish I could joke around and say we were at each other throats or wanted to kill each other but sappily this just reaffirmed why we chose each other and why he is a priority for me. (And for anyone who knows me well, is a HUGE world shift).
The pandemic (and subsequent political issues and racial reckonings) put a lot of pressure on my relationship with my family and have really redefined how I view my relationships with them. I have always been close with my immediate family and still am, but it has definitely been an eye-opening year. Cryptic I know, but there are some things strangers on the internet aren’t privy to (no offense, I’m sure you’re all lovely).
My relationship with my body has changed. I honestly don’t know if that’s better or worse. I gained most of my pre-covid “working too much eating too little” weight back. Not being busy and being forced to sit still has left me with no choice but to both “make an effort” and to think about it constantly. I spend much more time thinking about why my thighs don’t gap and why my skin isn’t clear and glowing. On a positive note, I now have a consistent workout routine, and I have gotten very creative with my cooking and baking adventures. But it’s no longer “easy”. Which I know is a luxury to say, but it’s still such a challenge for me. I will say, with a year of workouts under my belt, my butt has never looked better.
Finally, theatre, my true love and professional aspiration since I was a little girl- has fallen by the wayside. I barely sing anymore (except the occasional Bridgerton Musical sing-a-long on Instagram; don’t @ me, it’s incredible). While performing will always be my first love, my drive for being a professional performer just isn’t there anymore. I want to love what I do, not fear and loathe the process. I hope it comes back into my life in a fun and loving way, but my priorities have shifted so much that there isn’t room for it to be my whole life anymore.
On that mildly depressing note, I do want to say that overall I feel much more secure as a person than I did a year ago. Granted, I’ve been in therapy for 6 years now and that definitely has something to do with it, but having the past year of forced stillness and reconciliation has taught me so much. It’s kind of like that saying “the older you get the less you know”? I’m just excited to learn and move forward in a way that’s just unapologetically me. I think I’ll get there, but change takes time, and patience is not my finest virtue.