May 25, 2020

So it’s been a lifetime since I’ve sat down to write a blog post, something I used to do all the time. It’s the reason my job is what it is, I started my blog because of my love for writing, fashion, and documenting things. I’ve kept diaries all my life and I can definitely express myself better with written words that I can get across on video sometimes.

But times have changed, and I changed with them. People prefer watching videos than reading, that’s what the numbers on my Google Analytics tell me anyway, so I decided to put my time where it’s more valuable – in Instagram & YouTube (that’s where you’ll find most of my updates these days).

Quarantine is a strange time for everyone, a lot of us have found time to do things we haven’t in ages. The blessing of Quarantine. I’ve been journaling quite a bit. Writing about my experiences, my feelings having come home from New York in the middle of this crazy time, my hopes for my career, for the future.. when I don’t even know myself what is going to happen over the next few months. It’s allowed me to find so many positives in this strange time. It’s allowed me to get my head around everything I’ve learnt since moving to New York alone in September, and it’s helped me get through days when I don’t feel so good.

There is definitely a weird mix of good and bad days in Quarantine. When my social and personal life is so quiet I have no choice but to feel those feelings I sometimes just wake up with. It could be something as small as a bad dream that sets my mood for the day. Or it could be something rational that has stayed on the forefront of my mind longer than it does on other days. I think what I want to get across in this blog post is that it’s ok to have those days, and it’s totally normal. I want to practice what I preach and do that “self care” thing we all talk about, which for me is writing. My hope for Quarantine is to come out of it better than I came into it, which means going through the hard feelings, feeling them, accepting them and hopefully learning from them. One thing is for sure, I’ll never take normal life for granted again after all this, I’m sure none of us will.

Good days

Ok let’s start with the positives – which you may have heard already if you watched my YouTube video talking about what I’ve learnt in quarantine (click here to watch) or in the podcast I did with Georgie Crawford for the Good Glow (click here to listen)

In general – after moving to New York, and experiencing the sometimes lonely times that come with moving country alone, I am very grateful to be home with my family. I live alone in New York, and with work slowing down a lot due to COVID I just couldn’t imagine trying to fill all day every day by myself. It would be really hard. I’m someone who’s naturally happier around people, chit chatting and just being in the presence of others. I’ve learnt that since moving. So in that sense I know I made the right decision in coming home, to be around people I love for 8 weeks (so far) of quarantining.

The downtime – how incredible has it been? I know for a fact I would never have taken this time off… I would not have allowed myself to sleep in until 9 mid week. I would not allow myself to not have plans on the weekend. Fear of being bored. Fear of not being productive enough. Fear of “if I slow down how will I speed back up?”. I was living life at far too fast a pace, putting a lot of pressure on myself to always be busy. I hadn’t written in months, read a full book in about a year, caught up with some friends in too long… it has given me time to pick up activities I haven’t done since I was a kid: knitting, baking, running in the fresh air.

Speaking of which, Quarantine has definitely made me appreciate the simple things in life so much more. I’ve realised in order to be happy it’s really just making time for the simple things that I need to do (which in normal life I stupidly don’t, too busy rushing around). Taking the time to enjoy a nice cup of coffee, going for a long walk on a nice day, listening to or reading a book, spending hours on the phone catching up with friends, finding a good song I love enough to listen to on repeat, playing with my dogs (to be fair I always made time for this, but maybe not enough). These are the things keeping me going at the moment, among other simple things. I think for a while I thought I needed more to be happy, but it’s really that simple.

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Bad days

Ok I have focused a lot on the positive sides of Quarantine, and there are so many. I’m sure I’ll look back on this time and be so appreciative of all the reflecting I did, and the growing as a person that happened as a result. I do believe we grow from the hard times, the times your out of your comfort zone (which for me has been nearly a full year now but what can ya do? lol) but I want to mention some of the things I find hard about this time too. Mainly to share it and get it out of my head, and also so hopefully any of you reading this who feel the same will know you’re not alone.

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I found a note in my phone I wrote on April 16th:

So we are currently in the weirdest time of our lives, a pandemic that none of us could have seen coming. Would I have still moved to New York if I’d known my year would be this disjointed? This is my third trip home in 7 months, and this one is for a long time.

I moved to New York with the hopes that it would be a new, exciting, happier chapter for me & although it definitely was at first. The novelty wore off when I realised how hard it would be to move country & do it all by myself. To make choices that really are going to affect me forever. To be away from the people I have spent all my life cultivating amazing relationships with.

I think back to this time last year & how trapped I felt. I needed to go, I needed to experience this on my own, maybe to learn how much I love and appreciate home but also just to live freely for a while where no one knows me, in the city where I learnt years ago that anything is possible.

I went there with the highest hopes that things would fall into place. Not stupidly though, I had done my research, I had saved and planned. I’ve lived there before, I sought advice from my friends and most of all I followed my gut. I knew as much as I could have known & it felt like I was definitely making the right move. But now 7 months into this journey I don’t know if it was.

I recorded a video reflecting on my first 6 months in New York last month and it was a lot for me to share, very personal, everyone has their own opinions on what I should do. Some people say stay longer you’ll learn to love it, others say go home you’re happier there. It’s not an easy decision to make.. I’ve spent so much time and money to move my life there I feel like I will give it more time but I guess the magic I remember from before isn’t there for me now. Maybe I’m older and I appreciate being around the people I love more, maybe that’s not the lifestyle I really want anymore, maybe it’s just been a lot of changes and I need to give it time.. I’m not sure. I’ve learnt since coming home I’m definitely happier when I’m with people, living alone was probably not the best decision for me.

I stopped the note there, it was probably a lot to think about and consider. It’s kind of the thoughts I’ve had to deal with since coming home, as well as thinking about how much money is literally going down the drain in my apartment I’m still renting in mid-town Manhattan. When these thoughts come into my head and stay, it’s not gonna be a fun day. I’ve trained myself to not over think them most of the time, there’s nothing I can really do right now. “There’s no point in worrying about things you can’t control”.

It’s a month since I wrote that note, and I’ve realised even though it hasn’t been plain sailing or easy. I had to go to New York in Sept, I was dying to. And my gut told me too. I have faith it’ll work out one way or another with time. If NY is really not meant to be this time, how bad, I’ve learnt how much I love home too, so I won’t be sad to come back here. But I do think/ hope when I get back, with all I’ve learnt before and during Quarantine, I’ll be able to be happier there.

I’ve no idea yet when the travel ban will be lifted, I’ve booked a flight back at the end of June. I really hope that I can go back then, hit the ground running, and make the best of what’s left of the summer. The summer I had dreamt about having there for so long.

Another thing I want to mention, but not dwell on (lol), is the fact I’m 27 and am back at home, having lost months in this year. That does get me down sometimes, as much as I’m enjoying being home. I want to be out meeting people, socialising, being independent, progressing my career and life, and I can’t do any of those things. It seems unfair, as silly as that seems to say. I know we all feel a bit like that at the moment. It’s unfair that people have lost their jobs. It’s unfair that other countries lockdown is being lifted before ours. It’s unfair that so many people have been sick and so many have died. This whole thing is a bit unfair isn’t it?

Perspective is so important here though, think about how much we have the opportunity to learn in this time. I feel like I have. I feel like I’ll be coming out of quarantine knowing myself a lot better, feeling more comfortable in my skin, and being aware of the changes I need to make in New York to be happier and feel more settled there.

On the podcast I did with Georgie the other day, she said it was “a gift” to learn these things so young without having been sick. That struck a chord with me.

This time has really given us all time to reevaluate our lives: small changes we could start making, things that make us happy, the type of people we want around. We’re lucky in a sense because if we can learn these things and implement them we’ll end up living a far more fulfilling life than the one we had been rushing through before Quarantine. I know that’s the case for me anyway.

For now, we have to deal with the fact that some days are shitty. We have to try and find positives where it feels like there is none. We have to be easy on ourselves and allow ourselves to feel sad about our current situation. It’s ok to feel worried too, I know I do. Talking about things does help, I try and vent to friends, and let them know I’m here for them when they need to vent. Writing stuff down helps me too. Or listening to uplifting podcasts. Or even taking a bit of escapism on Pinterest, looking at pretty pictures and reading motivational quotes. Sounds silly but these things do help. It’s such a weird time, I’d thought about writing something like this for a long time, but it’s such a complex time it’s hard to mention all the feelings. I’m sure I’ve missed some and look how long this post is already! Lol.

If you made it this far I hope it made you feel a little better, and less alone,

All of our plans have been messed up, the rug was pulled from underneath us with this pandemic, everyone is struggling in different ways – but we’ll figure it out. Things will go back to normal eventually – a slower normal, where we’re all a bit more compassionate and understanding I hope,

Anyways, I’ll stop babbling on now,

Hope you’re all keeping safe,

Lou xxxx

Louise Cooney

Fashion, Lifestyle & Travel blogger from Limerick, Ireland.  

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