Add Covid to the List

by Talia Gabay

It was 2:45am. I woke up and found myself drenched in sweat, completely overheating. Almost autonomously, I leaped out of bed and went to go lie on the chilled tiles outside my bedroom door. While I lay there in the passage of my apartment, letting the tiles cool my burning skin, I remembered that I was the only one there. This was the first Covid fever I experienced and after cooling down a bit, I peeled myself off the tiles, leaving behind my sweat angel and added ‘fever’ to the list of symptoms.

I like to keep lists. I feel like they help me keep organized, especially when I can see everything I need to do written out in front of me. In my room, I keep a pinboard and on it you will find a series of lists, calendars, reminders, and sticky notes. The calendars and lists help me keep track of the work and assignments that I have coming up to make sure I do not forget anything and stay on top of things. It is imperative to keep to deadlines and I like to have a gameplan of when I need to complete my work to give myself enough time to get it “perfect” and still have time for myself and my hobbies. You see, I am a perfectionist. An over achiever whose biggest critic is the person that stares back at me when I look in the mirror. My parents never pressured me into the academic mindset. They never had to force me to study and work hard. I did that to myself. Not to say that this is a bad thing.

Balance is everything. I know when I need to keep my head down and work hard and over the years, especially during my undergraduate degree, I learnt how long it should take me to compete certain tasks to get them to the standard I hold for myself. And when all my tasks are checked off my lists, it means I get “me-time”. I am not the type of girl who sees “me-time” as lighting a candle and relaxing with some tea. On the contrary. I try and keep as active as possible.

Me-time is waking up at the crack of dawn and hiking up a mountain face. Every Sunday I take a new route up Table Mountain and find new ways to challenge myself. I will do 6-hour long trails and try get them done in 4, or complete vertical climbs that seem impossible. Speaking of impossible, I have booked to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at the start of next year. Why do I do this? Because I love the challenge.

My studies challenge my mind and the hiking challenges both my mind and my body. I am a complete extrovert. I hate sitting still. If I am not working on varsity tasks /assignments / lectures/ tests then I am out snorkeling, climbing mountains and going on adventures surrounded by people I love. I am always with people. Why am I telling you all this?

Well, we are still in a pandemic. This means that seeing people is not as easy as it used to be. And when you do see people, you risk getting Covid. For a while I thought I was invincible. Yet here I am, clearly a mere mortal. A few days ago, I tested positive for Covid-19. I moved to Cape Town at the beginning of the year with my brother. After my test came back positive and his came back negative, he moved out, leaving me alone. Alone.

The honours deadlines have piled up and assignments/ lectures/ and presentation tasks are at an all time high. Not to mention exams are around the corner and now I cannot get into the lab for my proposal. The Covid fatigue hit me hard and I found working and sticking to deadlines nearly impossible. But the work was not going to wait for my days of isolation to be up. On the contrary. Work kept piling and deadlines I set for myself kept being missed. I found myself pushing to try get work done to the point of burning out. Well clearly till the point of burning up with a fever. I have not seen people, I have not hit my deadlines, I have not stuck to my lists, and I have not had any me time. Its easy to get overwhelmed at times like this but if there is any advice I can give to someone, it is to take a deep breath, and make a list. When climbing a mountain, you do not magically get to the top. You get there by taking one step at a time. The same can be said for university, or anything in life. It can be tackled by making a list and ticking things off one task at a time.

To look at everything going on in its entirety is bound to bring on anxiety and make things seem impossible. But if you take small steps and set small tasks and deadlines for yourself anything is possible. Just because I could not stick to my old deadlines does not mean I cannot make myself new ones based on my new circumstance. Everything is about adapting your plan when things go wrong and by just taking things one step at a time. You will get there in the end, and you will feel on top of the world when you do it.

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