What the Goldilocks fairytale can teach us about quarantined life

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Extreme change in the outside world due to the pandemic has equaled extreme change in our inner worlds. It has felt at times like our equilibrium is way off and we’re all just teetering on the fine line between blissful peace and insanity. I have found that with both my own habits and my and my partner’s collective habits, we have had to find a balance. Much like goldilocks, we have found that things can be too much of a change, not enough of a change at all, and a balance in between of just the right amount of change.

TOO MUCH of a change. At the beginning, I was feeling the pressure of “but you’re home and have all this extra time”. Why wasn’t all of my laundry all clean? Why didn’t I have time to write a book? Why wasn’t I going on an online home shopping spree to get all of the things I had been thinking we should get for the apartment- new throw pillows, matching bedroom lamps, paint to paint our side tables?

Also, I thought, what a “great time” to identify and change all of the home things I didn’t like about my partnership. It was so easy to pick apart all of the things that were wrong. Should we be making dinner together every night and eating it at a table instead of in front of the t.v.? Did the moldy smell in our washing machine mean we were incompetent? Did we ALWAYS talk so loudly? Should we be saving more money? Did all of the the things we disagreed about need to be reconciled?

It was overwhelming to say the least that I felt an urge to assess and fix everything that I felt was wrong during this “extra time at home”. I had to remind myself to change my inner narrative- I was doing the best I could, we were doing the best we could. Sometimes, simple tasks like making three meals and running the vacuum, getting a walk in and drinking enough water, were victories enough.

TOO LITTLE of a change. When circumstances change, it is helpful to think about adjustments we can make to ensure we are getting what we need. This isn’t just a few days where we are working from home, there have been a lot of changes to the way we live- how we socialize, what we eat, what our sleeping hours are. It can be easy to slip into the easiest habits. The least resistance to change possible is to do nothing at all. But change is also an opportunity. Even though it seems like we’ve been limited, we have to remember the age-old saying: when one door closes, another door opens. Whether or not we’d like to be going out to dinner with friends, going on vacation, spending the day at the beach, the fact is that we can’t and we do have additional time at home. Even the smallest tests of change can result in big rewards — like identifying habits that aren’t serving us and trying to figure out how to change them. Or, finding what does work in quarantine and trying to think how we can apply that to our regular life. For example, quarantine has taught a lot of us that it can be possible to foster meaningful relationships with friends and family that we don’t physically see often- what a shame it would be to forget this when things went back to “normal”. JUST RIGHT amount of change. I don’t think I’m not alone in feeling that the enormous pressure of “having to do everything I never had time for” is debilitating and unrealistic. Instead, maybe we can along the lines of “what is one small thing I can do that I felt I never had time for”, and orient it to the action rather than the result. So for example, if we always think we want to write or draw but never get time, maybe we can set goal to spend 20 minutes a day (or every other day) writing or drawing. This doesn’t have to be a “productive activity”. It can even be as simple as practicing self-care guilt free.

The other day I spent 20 minutes napping in the sun and woke up and fought feelings of guilt. Should I have been doing something else? Maybe, but I am taking this time to practice self care. And it felt glorious.

So like goldilocks, lets remember the rule of “just right”. too much change is unnerving. Too little change is a wasted opportunity. Let’s settle somewhere in the middle.

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