Well… This is one of the hardest introductions I’ve ever had to write. To be honest, it’s now been over two weeks of lockdown in Paris (we’ve been in lockdown since Midday Tuesday 17th here in France) and I keep coming back to this post again and again. I don’t know what to say. However, what I’m not going to do is to rehash the numbers or statistics or advice here. For that, head to an official source.
I don’t know where to start. Like the rest of you, my world has been turned upside down, and then shaken up several times more. As it turns out, however, I have written quite a lot over the past few weeks, only it’s been on Social Media instead of my blog. As such, my most up to date thoughts can now be found on my Instagram, though I’ve organised my thoughts below as each ‘Instagram caption’ turns out to fit rather neatly into an aspect of my current life.
On living in Paris during confinement
I used to say that, no matter what, I wanted to be in Paris. I even chose my university course, went through several breakups, and built an entire business just to move here. Well, it seems like this happened since I’m now here in Paris (albeit very alone), even during a worldwide pandemic.
Even if my world has shrunk to 30 metres squared, even if I have no idea what my life will look like in a day, let alone a year, I’m finding joy in the smallest of places. I still consider myself incredibly fortunate and remind myself of this every day. I love Paris and I get to be here, even now.
Dangling my feet out the window while reading a book, writing more than I’ve ever done so in my life, caring for my plants, a perfectly crisp glass of rosé, calling a long lost friend, the warm sun on my face, catching the eye of a cute guy in the grocery shop (he was very cute!), waving at previously unfamiliar neighbours.
The world is different and not in a good way, but I’m trying to navigate it best as I can, just like everyone else. What I do know is this: we’re all here together and we’re better when acting together (even if that is together from a distance). Last but not least, I think we can all agree: thank f*** for the internet!
On staying positive during confinement
Part of me wants to stay positive, while the other part spends a lot of time spiralling into existential dread and despair. It has to also be said that what were once existential dread thoughts are now the reality of our day to day lives.
I try and limit my news intake to a handful times a day because, while the situation is serious, it’s hard to balance seriousness with being able to function through the day. I don’t do this to downplay the situation, I simply do this so that I can carry on looking after myself and those around me- from afar, of course!
Nevertheless, I try to keep creating content, to carry on with the bits of life (and freedom) I have left, because there seems to be little other choice. I spend a lot of time calling my Mum and I’ve discovered that it’s okay to find this whole experience hard.
We can’t be too hard on ourselves for finding this hard, it’s a new and scary experience for all of us. The statistics still floor me every day. Without the ambient city noise, we notice sirens a lot more… But I’m sure you already have the same in your life, so I will not dwell on this.
On human contact and being alone during confinement
I’ve left my apartment exactly two times since confinement began; both times to frequent the grocery store, and both times because I’d completely run out of fruit and wine! As of a few days ago, it’s been exactly three weeks since I was within 2 metres of another person. It’s a very weird feeling to have. Back then, if you had told me I would no longer be allowed to brush past a stranger on the street, allowed to hug a friend, allowed to kiss a boy I like… I would have thought you were crazy.
Now, it’s my reality… And it turns out it’s actually an okay experience. Sure, there are ups and downs. There are good days…. And, unfortunately, there are bad days. However, I’ve also started to count my blessings more than I’ve ever done so in my life. There is no choice to be in this situation, and the only thing I have control over is my outlook on the situation.
I feel grateful to be surrounded (virtually and from afar) by so many wonderful family and friends. I get to sleep in a comfy bed each night. I still get to spend my days making content I’m passionate about. I can still enjoy the sunset (something which has since become one of my greatest passions), wave at my neighbours, laugh at ridiculous memes on the internet.
On loneliness in confinement
I’m not going to lie, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m getting a bit sick of memes on the internet saying ‘all you have to do is sit on your couch’. Yes, that is what many of us have to do but it’s not as ‘simple’ as it sounds. For many, like me, it’s unclear when we’ll next come into contact with another person. And while those are the cards we’ve been dealt, it’s still something we all personally have to deal with.
Prior to this, I found it hard to be alone with my thoughts, I found it hard to like myself as a person. I’ve always had pretty severe anxiety and my two greatest fears of abandonment and having to spend swathes of time with myself have come true. Now, I have to deal with both, all the while dealing with a worldwide crisis and fears for everyone I love. And while this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, I’ve had to quickly learn who I am, how to deal with my dark thoughts, and how to cope with… Myself.
This afternoon, at the grocery store, I chatted to the first person I’ve spoken to in weeks. The cashier at my grocery store was very friendly and even complimented my French accent; even the smallest of interactions can make my day and give me hope for the future. I also give myself plenty of treats; weekend pizza nights, candles, an extra coffee in the morning. Small things are a great accompaniment to phone calls and waving at neighbours.
On being confined to a small space
My view all day every day is the same. It’s beautiful but I also enjoy variety in my life. My previous pre-pandemic entire life feels very far away, like some distant dream. I often wonder what we’ll all be like when this is all over… I wish I didn’t have to go through communal doors to access the outside world and I wish that I even had a balcony, let alone a garden.
But when this is all said and done, I still feel lucky. I can sit and watch the sunset from the comfort of my home, I have plenty of wine (though my wine delivery is lost somewhere lol!), I talk to more people I have in my entire life, I have a nice space to exist in, and I have dozens of plants to care for.
We all miss the outside world and I’ve spent the past week questioning what to do next (read: drinking copious glasses of wine and lying in various places in my apartment). However, I need to be productive. It’s weird when you’re a travel content creator and suddenly you can’t even leave your flat, just because you feel like it. As well as everyone else, I wonder how I’ll pay for future bills, but I try to focus on one problem at a time.
I’ve joked that my ex boyfriend broke up with me because he found it exhausting that I find it really hard to sit at home and ‘just watch Netflix’. I used to always have to be on a road trip, on a hike, seeing a new church/ museum.
Well… That break up story is not a joke but I’ve also discovered that staying at home is okay, but more importantly, necessary. As of a few days ago, I’ve been creating content like crazy, all in the name of keeping myself distracted. I’m a quarantent creator (content from quarantine).
On feelings about post confinement life
I can personally see some of the light beam (not the sparkles or the Eiffel Tower itself) here Chez Sophie and it makes me look forwards to the day we can all enjoy the wonders of the world once more. Nowadays, the sunset is one of the only things I can still enjoy of the outside world from the safety and comfort of my flat. The sunset is also a reminder that the sun still sets and tomorrow is another day.
Two days ago, I spent the entire day in my bed and was unable to do… Anything. Social Media is a highlights reel of our lives and, even if brings us together at this time, it’s important to remember that it’s still (by and large a highlights reel). Some days I feel like I can’t see the end of this, that I can’t imagine what the future might be like, or when it might be, and I think that’s normal.
These times are so up and down for everyone and we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for finding it hard. However, yesterday was a new day and I woke up with this burst of energy as if my thoughts and feelings from yesterday had never happened. Who knows how I’ll feel in tomorrow, in a week… Or even in ten minutes. But, of course, that’s normal.
How I’m Keeping Busy During Self-Isolation in Paris
If you were wondering how I spend my days in Paris, then, as well as writing more than ever before and charging my phone than I’ve ever had to before (on account of more video calls and phone calls than I’ve ever undertaken in my life,) here is how I typically spend a day.
I update my blogs: I have several websites and, since I still have bills to pay, and since my blogs still get traffic (for now), I spend a lot of my time working on updating old posts, creating new ones, and trying to while away the time in confinement in a somewhat meaning way.
I create videos: I have a YouTube channel which has, by and large, been neglected for months now. However, since I can’t distract myself by going on dates, going on walks, or literally leaving my apartment, I would like to edit and upload the videos I’ve never got round to finishing!
I look after my plants: I have dozens and dozens of plants in my flat and caring for them, watching them grow, and thrive is one of the greatest joys in my life of today. They’re the only living beings I come into contact with and to have something to care for (and a slice of nature in the heart of the city) and having them makes me feel so grateful!
I video call: Everyone from boys I kind of fancy to my granny, I have never had so many video calls in my life! I spend hours every evening (and during the afternoon if I’m being lazy regarding work) on the phone to long lost friends, to best friends, to boys I’ve dated, to boys I want to date, to my mum, my dad, my sister, my cousins (we have a nightly wine chat), my grandma… I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.
I keep a diary: Until recently, I never called myself a writer, in spite of the fact that that’s how I’ve spent the past few years making money (my sole income to be precise). However, now, more than ever, I’m using words to make sense of my reality and I encourage you to do the same. Keeping a diary can be an alleviating thought and feelings dump which you might not have realised you otherwise needed.