Why So Many Women Have Got FOGO About Lockdown Lifting
Two months into lockdown and my once blonde hair resembles a dip dye, I haven't seen my family since Christmas and my wedding has been cancelled. You'd think I would be desperate to get back to 'normal life'. But I'm not.
In fact, the prospect of returning to my old routine has me filled with a creeping sense of dread that some have dubbed FOGO: Fear Of Going Out.
Not because I feel anxious about coronavirus (although I do, a bit) but because I'm actually starting to love the hermit life.
Don't get me wrong, I'm totally aware that my outgrown roots and cancelled plans are nominal in the grand scheme of a global pandemic. And it's not like I don't miss my family and friends; some days, I'll have a little cry just thinking about how amazing it will be when I see them again.
But despite the fun plans, I am wincing a little at the thought of how jam-packed our diaries are going to be once this is all over.
Having sat on my bum for the best part of two months, I'm beginning to wonder how the hell I managed to wake up at 5:45am, dash to catch my train into work almost always follow up with evening plans - whether it's the gym, meeting a friend or something work-related.
For once, I don't that horrendous sickly feeling the second my alarm clock goes off, where I berate myself for agreeing to go out for mid-week drinks, again.
And although it seems 'wrong' to admit it, I know I'm not alone. People said lockdown would be an introvert's paradise, but I know plenty of social butterflies like myself who have been left feeling the same.
When Jo, 25, found out we would be going into lockdown, she worried she would struggle, but tells me she's actually surprised herself.
"As excited as I am to get back to normal, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, too," she says. "There's something comforting in knowing that everybody is sat at home doing absolutely nothing, and the whole world is on pause along with me. Returning to business as usual is certainly a daunting thought."
It's not just the mounting social pressure, but time too. Ciara, 26, tells me that for her, losing all the hours she's gained during lockdown is inducing anxiety.
"I'm worried I'm going to feel doubly stressed and anxious about not getting as much done as I am now," she explains.
"I've also started running for the first time in 10 years which I'm loving both physically and mentally I'm concerned getting back to normal life will just be another excuse for me to stop."
But why are we feeling this anxiety? Is it because we've realised that, actually, it's pretty nice (and beneficial) not to be constantly on the edge of burnout? Or, as humans have we simply adapted? And will we adapt back just as quickly, once this is over?
TV psychologist Emma Kenny explains: "It's a little bit like the post summer holiday dread of going back to school - even though it wasn't a bad place to be.
"We're adaptable as humans so when we're presented with a circumstance that we need to get used to, we do so pretty quickly.
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"Because of that, we've rationalised that this is the right thing to do - if we can't rationalise it, we feel bad. It's now become comfortable - even though it was once uncomfortable - and suddenly, we have to get back to normal. It feels like a shocking change."
It certainly seems like we've adapted quickly. One friend, Amy, 27, tells me that for the first few weeks of lockdown, she couldn't think about anything but getting back to her normal, busy routine. Now, it's a different story.
"Things have changed since then. I've got used to it now and I'm enjoying taking the time to do things I wasn't able to before. The thought of giving all that up once this is over gets me down."
Similarly, my colleague Maggie explains: "As a woman in her 30s, happily single but open to meeting someone, my pre-lockdown life would hold several nights out a week.
"Whether they were dinners with friends, dates or birthday celebrations, I felt I had a healthy balance of me-time, while still enjoying my four-to-five nights out a week. While initially lockdown was a shock to the system, I found myself slowly embracing the quieter pace.
"Spending hours engrossed in a book, cooking a cake to drop at a friend's or just soaking in the tub felt like the pause I hadn't realised I needed. Rather than feel lonely or resenting time alone, I realised how restorative and fulfilling it could be.
"Post-lockdown, I will try to give myself more nights off and to let go of any FOMO if I don't have plans every night. I now know a Friday night in the bath with a red wine and a book can be just as nourishing and enjoyable as a wild night out!"
One lesson to take from the last few months is that it's not essential to say yes to everything *all* the time and hopefully, many of us will come out of this with a happier balance.
"The important bit of FOGO is that it can be positive. There's an opportunity for you to live a slightly different way," explains Emma.
"So, even though you're afraid of that feeling, it's something you should be promoting. You should be asking yourself, 'what is it that's really mattered to me?'
"Have you realised you need more flexible working? Do you need to stop worrying so much about other things?"
Emma explains that using the fear and anxiety to understand what we would like to change about our lives, means we can come out of lockdown growing in confidence and ready to say no.
It's something Unity, 30, has vowed to take on board once lockdown eventually lifts. "As a bit of a people pleaser, I felt pressured to say yes to everything and anything pre-lockdown," she says. "Tuesday night cocktails? Sure. Bottomless brunch on a death-defying hangover? Why not.
"To me, admitting that I'd actually rather spend the occasional Friday night in front of the TV with my boyfriend and a takeaway was out of the question.
"Of course I'm looking forward to seeing my girlfriends when this is all over - but going out every night of the week, just for the sake of it, no longer feels like such an appealing option."
Emma explains that despite the unease we are experiencing now, we *will* adapt back into our normal routines, just as we adapted into what seemed like an unthinkable, impossible situation two months ago.
"The best part of human psyche is when you just feel the fear and do it any way," she says.
For now, you'll find me basking in my hermit lifestyle for a little longer. And when this is all over? We'll see. At least I have some time to work on my excuses...
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash
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