I can't lie. This week, I am feeling the grind. And I know that I am not the only one. No matter who I talk to, everyone is feeling some form of corona fatigue. Paired with winter fatigue, it can feel like a inexplicable weight.
In December, my parents, my baby sister, my younger brother and his girlfriend decided to join us in New York for the holidays. It honestly meant a lot to have them in our new home town and have the people that mean so much to me get to spend time together.
We were lucky enough that by the end of the year I still had a good portion of vacation days left over. Paired with German national holidays and weekends, I was able to join him in New York for a little over 3 weeks throughout December which was a big luxury.
Our first Christmas together was a roller-coaster. We were living in Hamburg (Germany) at the time and had made plans to spend Christmas eve with my younger siblings and their significant others at our family home on the outskirts of Berlin.
This year has been a grind for all of us. The ups and downs in short succession can feel like the ocean is tossing us all over the place.
On a Wednesday in May, I suddenly had trouble breathing and my heart kept racing. Additionally, my throat was scratchy and I lost my sense of smell and taste. I felt super fatigued and I had a hard time formulating clear thoughts and concentrating.
By the end of that first month, my cabin fever was raging. I was miserable, physically and mentally. I was anxious and lacked perspective, maybe I was even slightly depressed. My spirit felt caged with no end in sight.
I was still optimistic when COVID-19 started picking up speed back in March and thought that we would be back to normal within 1-2 months.
Living abroad and/or with a significant other from a different cultural background, you sometimes see yourself and your upbringing through a different set of eyes. Things that you might not otherwise question and usually take for granted can very suddenly be open for interpretation and reflection.
Another interesting difference from my German experience is an outwardly focus on the positive. In Germany there is an unofficial saying "Keine Kritik ist Lob genug." ("No criticism is enough praise.").
Another thing that I noticed with some, was the need to save face. Even though a lot of my colleagues seemed very confident, brave and open at first glance, I slowly began to register that it was oftentimes outward pretense.