Living in social isolation: Is the grass always greener on the other side?

Think back to a time long ago. 

You’re jumping on a packed train at the crack of dawn, sipping your take away coffee as you pick off a chocolate stain on your blazer that you didn’t have time to take to the dry cleaners.

Your phone is buzzing.

You have 23 notifications of the emails you never responded to the night before. You were too busy taxiing the kids to piano lessons, swimming and ballet. 

You’ve got a group meeting at 9 am, which you’ll never make in time because the trains are running six minutes late. 

You’ll have to forgo the pit stop for a second coffee and apple and cinnamon muffin that was going to be your lifeline, getting you through the group meeting. 

You look at your watch and realise you’ve still got seven hours and 14 minutes until you can finally flee the office for the day, before engaging in parental taxiing duties. Oh and can’t forget dinner at the in-laws at 6.45 pm…what joy. 

How you long for the day you never have to set foot in the office again and be in the presence of your ghastly colleagues. 

You dream about that day when you aren’t frantically juggling after school pickups, mothers group catch-ups, book club hosting and trying to organise your mother’s 75th birthday party. 

All you want is to lie in a hammock with a book in one hand and red wine in the other. 

Washing all folded, kids glued to the iPad, husband watering the veggie garden. 

No more emails at 11.57 pm reminding you of the staff morning tea tomorrow and to not forget the homemade brownies. 

That would be bliss, right? 

The perfect life. 

No more contact with highly annoying colleagues. 

No more having to get up at an ungodly hour so you can look semi-respectable for a day at the office. 

No more lunches with the manager trying to justify why you need a promotion.

No more after-work drinks at the pub, talking about… Work. 

No more having to socialise. 

No more having to be somewhere at a certain time. 

No more having a sink full of dishes from breakfast four days ago and a mountain-high pile of dirty washing that you have to wash, dry, iron and fold before school assembly the next day. 

But then something major happens.

 All of a sudden this global pandemic suddenly hits the shores and you are forced to enter social isolation.

 No more work, school, swimming, piano and ballet lessons. 

No more lunch with the manager or group meetings in the boardroom. 

No more dinners with the in-laws! 

Suddenly, it’s just you, your hammock, the sequel to the book series you’ve been meaning to read for three years; and your glass of red wine.

This was exactly what you wanted, right? This was the utopian fantasy that you dreamt about every day of your working life. 

It’s pure bliss, right? 

 It’s a life without constant distraction and annoying people and having to make an effort towards your appearance.

It’s…Actually very boring.

It’s not what you had in mind. 

It’s not nearly as idyllic as you thought it would be. 

The highlight of your day is when it’s time to go to the supermarket and buy groceries.

 It’s an actual task. It’s something to do. 

But this was what you always dreamt of. 

So as you laze in your hammock, frolicking in your boredom, you start to miss your old life. 

You miss that annoying colleague who always steals your lunch from the work fridge. 

You miss the local pub with the Scottish bartender who insists on playing his bagpipes throughout happy hour. 

You miss the ridiculous team-building exercises your boss enforces to develop ’strong workplace relationships.’ 

You even start to miss the chaos of the school pickup and the gossipy catch-ups at the school gates. 

You start to want that life you always wished away. 

You want exactly what you can’t have.

You want that lifestyle you thought you hated.

So, as cliché as it may be, you begin to realise that maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 

Maybe the way things were isn’t as bad as we think.  

Maybe our fantasies aren’t as good as they seem. 

But this old saying certainly rings true. 

And perhaps the grass is actually more barren on the other side. 

Author Emma Young is a Melbourne based writer, currently studying a Masters of Teaching. Emma enjoys writing about current affairs, environmental issues and mental health.

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