Manchester, UK

My Personal Struggles With Isolation While Working From Home

Rachy looking into camera

It’s been just over a year since I began working from home. At that point, it was no longer unusual to do, and those who did were no longer perceived as different or in any way unique. People had stopped posing curious questions to the only person they’d ever met whose daily commute was only five steps from their bed to their desk. It is human nature to be curious about things that are non-traditional, but by then there was really no point. After all, by that time everyone had already experienced working from home in some way. In fact, we had reluctantly experienced everything from home as we wrestled with the global pandemic the new decade gifted us – it’s been rough, hasn’t it?

I’ve only travelled once for my job, and that was when I had to go to the office to retrieve my work desktop and other necessary equipment. I got to meet my colleagues and manager through a pixelated screen and interacted solely through upvotes on chats and team meetings on video every couple of days.

After university, I never really imagined I’d ever be working from home. But then again, I never imagined the last three years would play out as they did. It’s been a heck of a ride and whilst I had no prior experience as a homeworker, it has been both everything I thought it would be and everything I did not expect it to be.

Since then some things changed while others are still the exact same. My work computer remains on the right corner of my table, the same side I placed it on when I tore the box it came in. The office chair I opened my wallet to buy is now worn out and doesn’t quite spin smoothly like it used to – a testament to the time that has passed by so mercilessly fast. My alarm still rings at 07:08 every morning to allow myself a good snooze before any stressful day and as always, I don’t get up until 07:15 sharp. My enthusiasm withered with the passing of time too and perhaps, that’s the most apparent change…

Believe it or not, when I sat down to write this my working title was along the lines of ‘Ways To Stay Sane While Working From Home’ or ‘Tips To Make Working From Home More Enjoyable’. Maybe one day I will write those posts, but if you clicked on this post willingly, (I hope you did!) well you know that’s not what you’re about to get.

When I wrote down my goals and intentions for the year, something I knew was bound to be on my list long before I even picked up the pen was my desire to make changes in my work.

My current job was my first out of university, and my contract was always meant for homeworking. With a virus swimming in the air and everywhere in between, it honestly felt like a great idea at the time – until it didn’t.

I won’t even try to deny that having extra time in bed in the morning is great, perfect even. Not having to fight the temptation to buy an overpriced drink in a paper cup or pop into my favourite store ‘real quick’ every day has been magnificent. The amount of money I’ve been able to save puts a smile on my face when I think about it. Needless to say, things would not be the same if I was roaming around a busy city every single day. Creating the kind of comfortable workspace I want to work in has also been something I enjoy very much. Likewise having zero eyes around watching my every move as I get work done is rather calming too.

All of these things though have quickly become a double-edged sword that has left me despising the same exact things I once enjoyed about homeworking life.

There are a couple of reasons why I am not enjoying working from home anymore. At the very core probably lies the fact that I don’t enjoy my current job very much, or at all for that matter. Once upon a time, I felt like I was gaining some much-needed skills whilst experiencing ups and downs that pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was hard and honestly, I struggled to find my feet at first, but I was growing in ways I did not expect I could which I liked. Then it became stale and stagnant. My every day has become so predictable to the point I’ve been living on a perfunctory routine I know all too well. You know that overused answer that’s pop up in at least 97% of job interviews; ‘I’m looking for a new challenge in my career – blah blah blah, well that recycled phrase sure does sum up where I am at the moment.

If that wasn’t enough reason for needing a change this year, mixing a job you no longer enjoy and the immense isolation working from home can come with is by no definition a good combination.

The fact that no part of my daily routine forces me out of the door in the morning and into the streets is a fact I didn’t expect I’d come to dislike. The zero-commute lifestyle is all fun and game until sometimes it dawns on you that you have not left those four walls in days. I used to enjoy speaking to strangers on the bus and conveying the insights gained through my conversations in my writing. I don’t think I’ve done that ever since we put on our masks. I wore a mask to protect my health but somehow it aided my silence – eyes out the window, music in my ear, noise in my mind.

I’ve really tried my best to step out of isolation. I’ve returned to the gym regularly and have been trying to go to church every Sunday, although at times I fail to and end up watching online. I’ve been making an effort to keep up with my friends and the paths they are on, but adulthood has us chasing schedules and to-dos that nothing feels the same anymore. Speaking of to-dos, that’s exactly what it feels like these days as I try to get myself out there again. It feels like just another box I have to find ways of ticking every day. A chore I currently don’t enjoy.

It may sound silly, but I think I miss that feeling I used to have when chasing after a bus on a rainy morning. The urgency, the annoyance, or heavy sighs. The drumming heartbeat that I could hear ringing in my ears. The daily empty chat with a stranger who swiftly goes from non-stop talking about the weather to oversharing about why they are currently giving their partner a cold shoulder. Bumping into bodies throughout the day and craving my bedroom by the time the sun begins to hide away in the distance. Tired eyes that look to the darkening sky as the bus drifts through the city. The jingle-jangle of keys unlocking the door. The familiar aroma of boiling stew coming from the kitchen. Hm, I’m home.

Maybe this is nothing more than my stream of consciousness coming through unrestrained. Perhaps, there’s no big lightbulb moment here and I wonder if a ‘how to’ blog post may have been more helpful really.
I guess I wrote this for those who just like me somewhere in the world experience the same reality. Strength to me is recognising when change, although uncomfortable is necessary, so I believe I’m somewhat on the right track.

Your restless romantic roamer

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2 responses to “My Personal Struggles With Isolation While Working From Home”

  1. This is such a relatable post. Well written as well.

    xx Val

    • rachylewis says:

      Thank you so much for reading. It’s very much appreciated! Not sure if I should be glad you found this relatable though cause that would also mean you can relate which isn’t something I am pleased about. I hope however that you have found your own tips and tricks that help you cope. xx

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