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  • Writer's pictureCarly Hanson

How COVID-19 Pushed Me to Live My Life

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has been a cacophony of strain for people all over the world. It’s a looming source of stress for me, to say the least. However, it’s also been the inception of positive change - something I thought I’d never say. Some people’s lives have changed dramatically, some have been lost, and I know that (if I get to keep it) I’ll never live my life the same way again.

If you would’ve asked me a year ago, I lived a dream life. I had a great job, great guy, and family and friends I cared about. Now, don’t get me wrong. Those are all priceless things, but sitting here in the midst of COVID, writing this post, I see them all differently in the best way possible. And that’s what I lacked before.

The Job

Before the pandemic, I was working for a small business as a marketing professional - a job I loved with many people I practically consider family. I was a hard worker and the polar opposite of a risk-taker; I wanted to come to my steady job, earn my steady paycheck and head home (to my house paid for by my steady paycheck).

Then COVID hit. I was lucky enough to still have a job, especially one I could do remotely, which is more than countless people can say. But it occurred to me that whether I would have that option - whether I’d work from home safely, or have to come into the office and potentially expose myself to a virus - wasn’t up to me. It was up to the owner of my company. Suddenly, this sense of success and independence I felt in my life rapidly took the form of instability and helplessness.

At first, I assumed all my anxiety would dissipate upon the confirmation that I could, in fact, work remotely. Then it hit me that my company’s work-from-home policy, no matter what it might be, was irrelevant. Even if my boss told me to stay at home forever, the fact that troubled me was I didn’t have a semblance of control over that decision. As hard as I worked in journalism school and through several writing and marketing jobs, I simply had no say in my life when it came to this one thing - a big thing that would potentially have every effect on my well-being.

That day I made a decision: I will do everything I can from this moment forward to keep the direction of my life out of other people’s hands. Something just clicked, and there was no going back. I wanted to carve out a living for myself where I wouldn’t depend on a boss to make decisions that were hopefully in my best interest. I wouldn’t have to face a situation where I’d need to choose between safety and a job - something I’ve seen countless people struggle with in the last several months. I thought, what on earth should I do? I’ve never had the desire to be a business owner, and I just want to write. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, really. I finally worked up the courage to start a website and put my marketing skills to use, this time for myself and no one else.

Today, I do freelance writing for different companies in my spare time, and every day I get closer to my goal - no, my dream - of a livelihood built solely on that. Some people might’ve expected an update about my now-fabulous and lavish life as an independent writer; I’m not quite there yet, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The point is, I made the jump I never thought I’d make. I did something. For those who know me, I’m not a jumper...unless I’m jumping to correct someone’s grammar. Taking chances has never been my forte, but for once, I was in a position to say, “I want this, and I’m going to make it happen.” Finally, I stepped outside of myself, and it’s one of the best perspectives I’ve ever had.

The People, Places & Things

Once I asked myself what makes me happy in my professional life (and actually did something about it), I was riding a high that I hadn’t felt in so long. Control? Action? Haven’t seen you guys in awhile. All it took was reminding myself that I get one shot at being on this earth. If I don’t live it the way I want to - or at least try to - what am I doing here?

It made me think of all the people I used to spend time with and haven’t seen in months because we’re all staying at home. It made me think of the routines I put on hold, like date nights with my boyfriend, Friday dinners with my dad and Saturday shopping with my mom. All those things might have seemed typical to me six months ago, but now they’re extraordinary. Better yet, the realization that they’re extraordinary is extraordinary.

I thought of a comedy show I went to with my boyfriend last summer. It’s one of the best dates I’ve ever been on, and I laughed until my stomach practically went numb. Of course, the show ran pretty late, and at the time I was hoping it would wrap up so I could go to sleep. But now? Keep me up all night. I want to hear every joke, and take in the feeling of seeing him happy, too.

Friends, family, travel, celebrations - all the things I even avoided from time to time because I was tired or I wasn’t feeling social. They’re the entirety of why I’m here, and they’re anything but mundane.

If and when I get the chance, I’ll say yes to every invitation I can. I’ll find ways to save money for travel, even though I used to say it was a waste. I’ll dance, even though I’m anything but coordinated. I’ll take in the moments I used to find typical. I’ll revisit what I’ve taken for granted. I’ll jump.

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