We’ve been through the wringer – but was lockdown all bad? Capsule’s editors talk about what’s changed in the last few weeks (spoiler alert, we all lost our jobs), what we’ve learnt and the lessons we’re taking with us
Nicky Dewe: Locked down and lonely
“In the beginning lockdown wasn’t so lonely. I was still working and so there were constant emails and texts and calls from colleagues. Friends I hadn’t seen for years were sending Zoom invites so we could see each other again in small boxes. I felt dizzy from the amount of contact but also deeply unsatisfied by the medium (not to mention distracted by my own face). It left me wanting both more and less.
Then the axe came down on our jobs and the frantic work contact morphed into supportive talks for the shocked and frightened, and then that too dried up. People have disappeared off on their own journeys and rightly so. The friends who still have jobs are either insanely busy or desperately trying to look like it.
I’m at home with my husband and kids and so not (for one single second) alone and yet I often feel it. It’s a strange new form of FOMO. We know our friends aren’t at a party without us but what are they up to? How do they feel?
As the days have gone on I have, out of necessity, settled into this new regime but I still feel shocked by the sight of empty shops and people standing two metres apart. To know that we can’t go to a gig or a game, a play or a party because we can’t be near each other is an awful blow.
I lack the energy that only comes from being around others but I hold on to the knowledge that we are more than the sum of our parts. We’re united in a simple cause and that is: each other. For now we must be content as a team of five million. We’re in it together and so we remain apart.”
Emma Clifton: Rediscovering the concept of having time
“Never in my life have I been less attached to what the time is. Ever since I started school, time was divided up into slots of work – and punctuated by a large school bell. So, we learned to always think: what’s next. Every day was carved up like a pie graph; so many hours of study, so many hours of commuting, so many hours of homework. Then the clock would reset itself, and we’d do it all again. This timetable eventually switched out school for university and university for work, on and on, until suddenly a giant pandemic comes in and wipes it all away. Now, for the first time in living memory, I don’t have to set a morning alarm (this is perhaps the greatest silver lining of losing your job).
Since Covid-19, and the inevitable lockdown, time is the flat circle True Detective warned us about. It stretches on and on and has no rhyme or reason. March took three years to plod on. April was over in a heartbeat. May is here, allegedly. But if you were to tell me it was actually September, I would believe you. Seasonal dressing means nothing when you’re indoors for 23 hours a day.
It was only once life hit lockdown that I became aware of how much time, and speeding through it, comes into the language I use. “I’ll just run to the bathroom,” “I’m just going to nip into the bedroom to grab my teacup,” “I’m just going to quickly go and get my jumper.” There is absolutely no rush to do anything at all now (no, I don’t have children, why do you ask?) and my pace is still that of a woman on a deadline, trying to beat time. Slowing down has been foisted upon us, and turns out, it’s pretty good. So the lesson I want to keep with me, whenever we get to Level Two or One (like I said, dates and clocks are now irrelevant), is to take my time. Reclaim my day. For the first time since I was five, there’s no school bell or deadline. Currently, the world is divided into before Covid-19, and whatever the hell post Covid-19 is going to look like. Time is, for once, on our side.”
Kelly Bertrand: Letting go of my first love
“Since I left the comfort and safety of university, I’ve only ever had one job. I wrote for a mass-market weekly women’s magazine, and I loved it. I loved it through everything – the deadline stress, the constant fear my job would be lost (self-fulfilling prophecy, anyone?) and the financial stress that comes with being a journalist.
I remained chained to my desk as I watched my friends leave for London, make enough money for a house deposit, embark on six-month worldwide odysseys. It didn’t matter though, because I had my job. My job was cool. My job was interesting. My job was glamorous (well, people thought the job was glamorous, which is the same thing. I can assure you it was not!). Therefore, I was cool. I was interesting. I was glamorous.
When I lost it, I was, of course, heartbroken. But as I got through my second bottle of wine with the tears still running down my face that night, I realised why I was SO upset. I’d lost what I thought was the coolest part of myself. I wasn’t cool, or interesting, or glamorous anymore.
I don’t own a house. I don’t have a partner. My job was my ‘thing’ – the thing that made me fun and fabulous, the thing that gave me my conversation starters, the thing that people liked me for. And that hurt, deeply.
I hadn’t realised how much of my identity was wrapped up in my professional persona. And now, I had to figure out who I was without being a magazine editor.
And it’s been wonderful.
For the first time, I no longer have to represent a brand. I don’t have to write for a reader, I can write for me. There’s no longer anyone to report to. There’s no longer anyone to live in fear of, or to disappoint.
I’m free, and liberated, and confident, and happy. As Emma Clifton put so eloquently, it’s the perfect time to try something new, the Covid-induced carte blanche allowing anyone to take a chance, make a change, live a different life.
So, out of this lockdown I’m taking with me a new me. One who is confident, cool and interesting, with or without an amazing job. I make no promises about the glamour, though. I’m not even sure if any of my pants fit anymore.”
Alice O’Connell: Slow and Steady
“On the eve of lockdown I stood huddled over speakerphone, nervously trying to bid on a first home at auction. It had been months of scouring listings, driving across town, visiting open homes, daring to hope, and having those dreams dashed at auctions.
I was already working from home and was too busy to go the auction in person – it was deadline day at New Zealand Woman’s Weekly – and we were discovering all the challenges that come with making an issue entirely remotely, a first for us. Little did I know then, it would also be our last.
Adrenaline already coursing, I briefly logged off my laptop to dial into the auction – by now I could feel my heart in my mouth.
But, thankfully, when the time came, the idea of buying a house in a world of so many uncertainties seemed too outrageous, so, a little disappointed, I turned back to my computer.
Just a week later, I’d be out of a job.
Now, more than a month on, it feels like a lifetime ago. The pace, the pressure – a life that was a constant race against the clock.
Before I’d even had the chance to fully wake up each morning, I’d roll over, look at my phone and start scrolling, bleary-eyed through my messages, email and news sites to check what stories might need to be covered off in the current issue or immediately posted about to Instagram. I’d carry that pace throughout the day until lights out – the days blurring into one another. Looking at my diary, I’d constantly be surprised by the day, the month, sometimes even the year. I’d take holidays, and make promises to myself by the end of them that I would book another one in soon and slow down more in between. Thank God I took the ones I did – they’re memories I can still taste and smell when I close my eyes – but they’re promises I never kept up with.
Looking back on the achievements, the milestones in my former work-life – sadly, it’s hard to picture them clearly or revisit the emotions I must have felt at the time. To be honest, I really just remember the exhaustion.
Lockdown has wiped the calendar clean – making no day too discernible from the next. And, surprisingly I’ve loved it.
While I certainly miss the Weekly, hugging my friends, cheap tacos and delicious dinners out at Azabu, I’ve finally learned to slow down. I’ve learned what it can feel like to not be constantly rushing. I’ve learned my job never actually defined who or what I am. I thought redundancy might make me question my worth, but instead it’s brought about the opposite feeling – I now know I’ll be more discerning when deciding who I work for and how much of my day I give towards that job. It’s too precious a resource to spend in a constant blur.
The right job will come, the right house will come – but for once, I’m enjoying doing it all without a pressing deadline.”