Baby steps and high hurdles

As Scotland eases itself out of lockdown this April, I find myself thinking of feet. Yes, feet.

These foot thoughts were partly inspired by wearing actual shoes for the first time in 13 months. Wow, that felt weirdly constricting after a year padding about in trainers, slides and slippers! Needless to say, “fashion” footwear has never featured large in this diehard DM wearer’s wardrobe, but daily workwear, including proper shoes, were abandoned early doors in favour of practicality and comfort.

Being forced to think about what to wear ahead of a return to my co-working office space this week created a bit of unexpected discombobulation. Squeezing on proper shoes was symbolic of the slight discomfort I felt about stepping back into the old routine. Except of course, it isn’t the old routine, it’s a new one, and it takes time to get into the swing of new routines. Baby steps (taken in loafers) seemed like the only way forward.

Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury of taking teeny, tiny baby steps back into “normality”, but I’d like to think that employers will be kind and considerate as their staff settle into the new swing of things. I’d also like to think that skivers and shirkers won’t spend too long playing the pandemic card as a reason not to step up to the plate. But for those of us who are returning to work (or play), there are some psychological and practical barriers to be overcome as we emerge blinking into the light.

One of the major benefits of being self-employed is that I’ve been able to schedule my work to fit in with finding my feet, and for me it’s been okay to go slow. Which is lucky, because my own new routine is less than a week old at time of writing, and boy, it’s been odd. Getting back on the bike for the daily commute felt good, and familiar, but remembering to pack lunch, keys, waterproofs and stacks of paperwork from WFH was a complete faff. Walking back into the office to see the plants all withered and dying, and a fine layer of dust settled over everything was strangely demotivating. And don’t get me started about a bewildering lack of Covid concern from some co-working colleagues. Of course, the daily routine is falling back into place, but whew, it’s been downright disorientating.

For me, emerging from lockdown and that interminable winter wasn’t nearly as simple as throwing off the shackles, slinging on the high heels (that’s a JOKE) and running straight down to the pub (cannae get a bloody table, and anyway, it’s too bloody cold for alfresco alcohol). There’s been a bit of stumbling and bumbling so far, plus a degree of low grade anxiety, but the baby steps are already picking up pace. The People’s Republic of Partick is beginning to buzz again now that the shops, caffs and boozers are opening their doors, and it’s brilliant to get back in amongst it.

So if you’re feeling a bit reticent about stepping back into the world, you might just consider joining the baby step brigade. Re-entry to society is like approaching a high hurdle a couple of times before beating a nervous retreat. But you quickly suss out that, actually, you can clamber over that hurdle with just a wee bit of huff and puff.