My life has changed a lot since Covid began. It all started on March 5th, 2020, the day I moved to New York. My boyfriend at the time couldn’t fly to San Francisco to help me move. Since then, I moved in with him, got Covid and had shortness of breath and a migraine for a couple weeks, finally got a job, moved out, broke up with him, started my job, took over his friends’ apartment that I was subletting as my own, travelled to Mexico, the UK, Iceland, Italy and California, published episodes of my podcast, started writing my novel again after 6 years of putting it on hold, founded Book Writing and Connection Builders groups to build my own community online, stayed in New York, stayed in my day job, came back to the UK, took the summer off to finish my novel and recover from PTSD, switched from Squarespace to Webflow, fell out with my best friend from home and stopped speaking to her, went through sexual trauma, got therapy for PTSD and sexual trauma, and that’s all the major stuff I can think of.
I think the pandemic has changed me for the better. I still feel some sense of pull from the world of tech and money and equity and bonuses and driving around my own Tesla at the age of 27 in San Francisco. But the pandemic, luckily, has forced me to kind of go: fuck that. So what if I want to write teen romance fiction? So what if I want to move to somewhere cheaper in Central and South America so I can be a writer? No one said I had to work in Tech. The reality for me is that none of the money or the status of Tech really meant that much to me anyway.
The pandemic started at a pretty important time for me, when I was only a year or two out of college. I was just getting started on the trajectory of my career, and I was so close to dampening my dreams, of falling out of love with art and pushing it all under the rug. Something saved me. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe it was The Artist’s Way. Maybe it was my friend Kristy. No, it started even before that.
Maybe it was the day when my fancy, hot, tech bro friend, Will Walsh asked me if I wanted to join his company as the first business hire. It was October 2019, I had less than $10,000 to my name, and I had just been fired from Postmates when we got coffee at Blue Bottle together in downtown San Francisco, the fanciest and the richest of places, with the best coffee. His company was making recruiting software and had just gone through Y Combinator. Dover, the company is called. I knew when Will asked me that, it was bound to be a big one. It was a lot of money. But instead, I said: no, thanks. I want to work on my podcast and tell stories about women’s health and write my blog. I want my time for myself.
That was the first time I knew, in my heart, that I was turning down a lot of money in pursuit of something that was going to be harder, less certain, more challenging, less lucrative, with a far bigger chance of failure, but that was ultimately going to be more fulfilling. At times, I have regretted that this is my perspective on what matters to me in my life, but somehow when push comes to shove, I continue to defend this position. And I am proud of that. I still have money, though I’m not exactly rolling in it. And I feel far happier and fulfilled than I ever could be helping my already rich MIT friend become richer by scaling his recruiting software. Such is life, I guess. A series of tradeoffs.
For me, the pandemic definitely accelerated helping me get to the things that I really always wanted to do. It challenged me to wake up every morning and think: gee, if we’re all going to die, then how do I want to be remembered? I can honestly say, if it was not for the pandemic, I would not be working on my novel right now.
In the first year of the pandemic, I spent Thanksgiving with some friends in Mexico. We were sitting around the table, sharing what we were grateful for, and many of my friends were married couples in their 30s. When it came to be my turn, I said: I am grateful that none of us have any real responsibilities, either in the form of parents or young children. We all have been very, very lucky.
It has been a lot of ups and downs. But then so would any two years of adult life, surely? At least for me, I’m learning not to take the long road around.
I wrote this piece on Day 6 of Ann Randolph's "UnMute" writing course.