• Countries Visited: 24
  • Travel Wishlist: India, Japan, Pacific Crest Trail
  • Locked down in: Melbourne, Australia

I never realised the benefit just a day or two away doing something you love actually has. It keeps you going longer than you think.

I spent the first couple of months in 2020 away most weekends in the mountains, at the beach, hiking and at weddings in country Victoria. At the start of March I visited Tasmania to hike the Overland Track, which as a lover of the outdoors and nature, is a big bucket list item for me. I spent 9 days in Tasmania with 7 days on-trail. It was an amazing experience with a good mate of mine in beautiful country with no phone reception, no electricity, no hot water or showers and loved every minute of it. Corona virus had been in the news a bit but seemed like it wasn’t a huge concern for most Australians at that point in time. By the time we got back to the airport to fly back to Melbourne things were getting worse and as it turns out I was lucky to get it done when I did because now who knows when I might get another chance.

Just prior to lockdown I had moved back in with my parents. Not the ideal situation for someone in their early thirties, but I wanted to buy a property of my own and didn’t want to recommit to another lease. I’m lucky I have good family where I can do that. Lockdown has meant I’ve been stuck here with my parents who are both retired, so they’re also stuck at home pretty much all day every day. They had plans to travel up the east coast of Australia and visit my uncle and also had a trip through Europe planned to escape our winter. I felt really bad for them as they’d really been looking forward to these trips. I’d also really been looking forward to them going on these trips so I could have the place to myself!

Once lockdown initially started I was drinking more. I usually wouldn’t drink during the week unless I was out for dinner, or had a really long day or if it was really hot. I never really drank alone either. I soon found myself knocking back a whiskey or two every night. Partly to relax at the end of the day any partly as something to do. After a while I scaled back and now rarely have a beer.

My work situation has altered a lot. Instead of working in the office, I’m based at home. Being a project manager I’m out on site a lot which I’m really grateful for. It was stressful at first not knowing how long I would have work for. As it turns out I’m really fortunate that I deliver public works that are deemed ‘essential’. I feel guilty sometimes that I get to work while there are so many people who can’t.

At first I absolutely hated working from home, especially planning things that I wasn’t sure would be going ahead. I’d struggle for motivation and really miss the social side of work. I’m lucky that I work with great people. Pretty much everyone I work with I’d be happy to have a beer with, that’s my measure of how I rate my colleagues. We’re pretty tight knit and care about each other’s welfare, which when you see them every day is easy to check up on. Meetings in the office where good natured smart arse comments and sarcasm keep things interesting have turned into slightly awkward skype meetings where you don’t know when you should talk for fear of interrupting.

Things got worse in the middle of winter when pretty much all site visits were off. This has been my escape. I have several conservation projects in national parks and bushland, so being able to get out to these places was a huge release for me. My workload built up and I was really busy and about as stressed as I get in the job. I’ve been desperate for a holiday to go snowboarding or anywhere really but if I were to take a holiday what would I do? Sit at home with Mum and Dad? I get on with them really well but I’d be going nuts.

That’s one thing lockdown has really robbed me of, the little releases from my routine life. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a job I really like, there are plenty of occasions where I actually have to stop and remind myself how lucky I am. Despite this, I still enjoy a break from time to time and also whoever said ‘if you do something you love you’ll never have to work a day in your life’ is wrong. No matter how cool or meaningful your job is there are tough days and days where you would happily not work if you could go on a holiday or just relax. I never realised the benefit just a day or two away doing something you love actually has. It keeps you going longer than you think.

I had a mate from work who I’d worked with for 10 years. During lockdown he was having trouble breathing one night so he had to go to the hospital. At first they thought he had corona virus, which he didn’t. it was worse, he had cancer. Not seeing my workmates as much I didn’t get many updates. In the space of 5 or 6 weeks he went from being fine to finding out he had cancer to passing away. It was really hard not being able to grieve with work mates. Incredibly hard for his family who apart from his wife and son all live overseas. This was another reminder of how short life is and that no-one is owed anything. This also lead to me purchasing a new motorbike that I’d always thought I’d buy one day. I love to ride through the mountains with my Dad and get a coffee. It’s about the only thing we really make an effort to do together and it’s the reason I started riding motorbikes. Thanks to lockdown we haven’t been able to do in months and my pride and joy sits under a dust cover.    

Being at home with my parents and being single as well can be pretty hard sometimes. Having no peers or partner can be lonely and there are only so many skype or zoom drinks you can have because no one has that much to talk about at the moment because no one is doing anything too interesting. After years of saving I’m very excited to buy my own place, however being able to inspect places for sale has been on and off. There’s not too much out there at the moment anyway. The lockdown has forced me to delay my plans, hopefully I can stay patient and not just buy somewhere for the sake of it.

Despite lockdown and the challenges it poses for mental health and human connectivity there have been some benefits. I’ve come to terms that I can’t control it so I try not to dwell on it too much. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of life. I’ve read more books, gone on more walks and challenged myself to stay busy and entertained when not working. Another benefit was born out of frustration. I’ve really scaled back my social media use to pretty much nothing. I gotten rid of snapchat long ago and barely used facebook as it was, pretty much checking once a week to see if I had any events coming. I was on Instagram daily, like most people I’d check it in the morning, throughout the day and before bed.

During lockdown it really frustrated me that people clearly weren’t doing anything worth sharing but still constantly seeking validation through sharing old photos and adding to their story. I’d had enough and deleted it. This was several months ago and I haven’t looked back. I didn’t do this to challenge myself or for the mental health benefits, it was because it was pissing me off. Looking back it’s been great. I don’t compare myself to others anywhere near as much, even though I didn’t realise I was doing it and I have more free time to read more meaningful material. I’ve really just had to step back and try and focus on the positives and the things that I can control, which is mainly my thoughts and attitude towards life.