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No more shoulds: what lockdown has done for me

Caz Makin

I’ve been thinking and I’ve realised what lockdown has done for me. It’s given me freedom. Freedom from my social anxieties, but also the freedom to live how I like to live, without the guilt that I’m not doing it right.

That feeling of feeling a bit wrong for not wanting more. I’m happy in my little bungalow messing in my garden. I like wearing no makeup. I don’t really want to travel or eat at fancy restaurants. I don’t care that my clothes are from charity shops.

Before COVID-19 I felt that I was defective for not aspiring to the same goals as my peers.

I used to get that uneasy squirmy feeling you get when you think you ‘should’ be doing things differently.

I hate that word, should

It’s a bit of a passive aggressive word I think. When we think we should do something, whatever it may be: lose weight, not eat so much chocolate, wear more make up, it can create a huge unease in our fragile minds.

I think that we aren’t already doing those things because quite simply, we don’t really want to, or we’re just not ready to make changes within ourselves just yet.

Should. It’s a word that gives you guilt all day. If you are doing something solely for you, you would mentally rephrase it as ‘I want to.’

Should can be a comparison word

We think we should because other people are. We think we should because society tells us we should.

Sometimes life is like this. We try so very hard to blend in and have what others have, when it’s just not right for us.

Should is also a word which can make you a bit depressed. When your mojo is a bit depleted, and your energy levels sapped - this is when we tend to use the word should. Which makes us feel worse about ourselves not better.

When you start to do more of what you want, you start to understand yourself more, and when you understand yourself more, you start to listen to yourself as a good friend and adviser.

And maybe you do want to do some things, but aren’t in the right place to do them. It’s OK to give yourself some more time, some more understanding and set a slower pace for yourself.

Small steps make big strides

I have a burning desire to help the world.

But I also accept that I’m not able bodied and can only do so much. And that might mean I can only try and help and be there for my people, and my local community. But it’s enough. Small steps eventually make big strides. I like to think I can do this with my writing. I dare to dream that my writing might connect with someone.

I have definitely been finding myself since my diagnosis of MS, it changes you. But since my dad tragically passed my finding has been accelerated.

Me and dad were peas in a pod. And I’ve never hurt and been as broken in my whole life as when he died. But in that grief I found something else. That from that pain, you can become. And becoming more than you were is what life is about.

You do heal and you do put yourself back together. But you are not the same. It’s OK that things you previously enjoyed you now don’t. It’s OK that you feel things more deeply. It’s OK that you’ve changed.

The more I learn about stuff, the more I grow and feel. And this is good. The more I feel, the more I love. I’m not fighting it anymore.

I’m not fighting to stay the same. Because it is right that we grow.

Love and understanding

Love is contagious. More contagious than COVID-19, more powerful than hate, more addictive than any substance.

The more you love, the more you understand. And the more you understand, the more you love.

And once you start, you can’t stop. It starts to seep out of you and into the next person, and the next, and so on, and then that person is so full it starts to leak from them too.

And love is inside all of us.