We all have very different coping mechanisms.
And these can differ day by day, or hour by hour.
What we are feeling right now and how we cope with these feelings are so unique to everyone.
Just to be honest, I don’t really know what I am feeling. There is anger, and negativity and frustration and annoyance, and loneliness and happiness and hunger and positivity.
My plan for this year was to work on my business full time and to live in NYC for 3 months.
The best way to describe what I am feeling is that emoji with the women with her arms flung into the air, shrugging her shoulders.
This is a snap shot into my life over the past few weeks as a creative entrepreneur and as a human who is self isolating alone.
Do you remember that kids book, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, by Eric Carle?
It started out with a caterpillar hatching from an egg under the sun, and then eating its way through different foods throughout the week?
The book had illustrations of each food and a hole through the illustration on the page, to show that the caterpillar did in fact eat that food.
I am that caterpillar.
And instead of eating my way through the week, I’m eating my way through each hour.
At 10am Kate ate 1 slice of pizza.
At 11am Kate ate 2 chocolate digestives.
At 12noon Kate ate 3 chicken nuggets. *
And I rationalize this by saying to myself, “Oh yeah, I went for a 45 minute run this morning.’
Numero uno way of coping.
Then there’s the I’m gonna figure out my business in these crazy weird times.
How can I launch my new apparel collection to customers whose primary concern right now is hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer and figuring out how to mute themselves on Zoom?
Yeah, that one didn’t get very far.
Numero dos way of coping.
There was also the, ‘I’m gonna learn a bunch of new skills.’
I signed up to Duolingo.
After a week of fighting this guy named Jett for the #1 spot, (he started following me to find out when I came online to do my lesson or that was the story I told myself) my competitive side emerged and I was up til 11pm attempting to maintain my gold title.
And then I got bored (& the lessons also became a little tricker).
So how’s my Spanish going?
Una pregunta dificil.
I also signed up for a Creativity Thinking course through edX and I’ve learnt how to brainstorm in multiple ways. It’s a once a week kinda course.
Numero tres way of coping.
And there’s the mindless scrolling through social media for hours at a time, whilst curled up on my couch; beautiful blue skies outside my window.
There is everything from inspirational / motivational quotes (yeah, may be slightly guilty of posting a few myself), to requests for food assistance, to I’ve just come back from a 10k run and now I’m gonna do an online power yoga class, to horrific scenes of what is happening in NYC, to picture perfect views of Mother Nature.
All in the space of 30 seconds (or depending on how fast you scroll).
Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride with this method.
Numero quatro way of coping.
As a creative I love making product. Something tangible that is useful in daily life. So I started a challenge with myself (yes, you may be starting to realise that I am a little competitive?!).
A hat a day.
I have a huge supply of yarn and I love knitting, so I decided to knit a hat a day.
This is actually really therapeutic as the repetitive nature of knitting allows your body to relax as you get into a rhythm. So my circular needles have been busy as my eyes consumed Homeland, Community, a bunch of animated movies and yup, Tiger King.
And as much as I didn’t want to be a designer who started making masks, I also became one of those designers who started making masks.
It’s a way of making something that some people find useful and it gives my brain something to focus on and I get to do one of my favourite activities; sewing.
A bunch have new homes with friends and family back home in NZ and also around Vancouver.
Along with the knitted hats, these will all be donated to those that are in need.
Numero cinco way of coping.
And last but not least, I’ve been reading plenty of self help books and listening to every podcast on creativity that I can get my hands on in an effort to improve my mindset and to try to understand the why behind what we do.
There is the question, ‘Is there something wrong with me because I am not where I think I am supposed to be?’
And there is also the question, ‘Why am I not stressing out and becoming anxious like I see so many people around me are, because I can’t do what I had planned to do this year?’
And then I hear of another book to read, or another creative person to follow on Instagram that thinks the same way I do, and so I am caught in a bit of a loop.
Numero seis way of coping.
I realise that I am in a very privileged position at the moment.
I can look back and have a bit of a giggle at myself and a hard look at my patterns and see where I get caught up in thoughts and emotions and what the end results are.
I hope that in another 4 weeks I can do the same again. And hopefully I have learnt a thing or 2 and the results will be different.
But I also know that there are a lot of people who have been laid off, or are facing an uncertain future, or are on a rollercoaster ride and they keep checking their safety belt to make sure it is securely fastened.
Whatever you are going through, remember that there are others out there that feel the same as you.
Toilet paper, hand sanitiser and zoom meetings are all crucial and all have their place in our lives.
However, what is more important is to know that there is no one way of coping right now.
There is no right way of coping.
What you feel is what you feel.
I hope I’ve made you smile, or you can perhaps see a little of yourself in my experiences and most of all I hope you know that you are not alone in this.
*Portion sizes may have been played down in an attempt to make the author feel better about herself.