#Adulting With Chinae Alexander

#Adulting With Chinae Alexander

This month, your favorite advice columnist answers all things coronavirus related

Wow how things have changed since Chinae’s last column! This time around, she received tons of questions surrounding the big elephant in the room, coronavirus. Read on for help surrounding relationships, job loss, and whether or not we really need to be productive right now…

I am 100% over being constantly with my boyfriend. Our one room apartment is really feeling like the tiniest place on earth. Everything he does just pisses me off, even though I know I’m starting to get really unreasonable. How do I talk myself off this ledge?!

I hate to say it, but my boyfriend and I have been fighting more too. And I find myself in a similar position as you, more sensitive than ever. I’ve done some internal work on this and also a ton of reading so here’s what’s been helping me/us.

  • Finding empathy for how we cope: We all deal with crisis and stress differently, and it sucks…especially when you’re trapped with that person 24/7. So trying to be empathetic for how your partner is dealing with a never-before-experienced scenario is KEY. For example, my boyfriend Craig is a classic non-confrontationalist, I am the exact opposite! I err on the side of needing to talk everything out (perhaps to a fault) and this quarantine is just heightening that desire to “work” on things. I am learning that I have to be understanding that he is dealing with stress differently and that me constantly pressing into issues while under shared anxiety isn’t helpful to him, which ultimately isn’t helpful to me. So I’m trying to manage my needs while understanding his. I think that’s a life thing, not just quarantine, HA!
  • Communicate separateness: The most helpful thing for us has been agreeing to talk about the type of space we both need within the walls of our small apartment. That means good communication about a schedule, work times, and also time we are protecting as “together time”. For example, voicing that you want to take a solo walk, or that you need the space to sit in the bedroom and read a book for an hour…is creating boundaries in your own space. He should also feel the liberty to tell you what he needs as well.
  • Finding the upside: I urge you to sit down together over a nice meal or glass of wine and highlight some unique things you’re able to do as a couple right now. Whether that’s a project you work on together, some quiet time to do things you love alongside one another, or doing activities that you wouldn’t usually create space for like cooking new recipes or listening to a podcast. Also dream up some things you want to do as a couple after this pandemic is over. This could be a future trip or adventure…looking forward to something together in the future is a non-specific way to look past this difficult time to something bright.

Hi Chinae, I’m feeling really down right now and it’s to the point where I am struggling to do all the things I know I should be doing. You know, eating well, signing up for one of those online workouts. I’m just so anxious that it’s stopping me from using this time well, which only makes me feel worse! How do I get out of this toxic cycle?

I hate to be harsh but…WTF “should” we be exactly doing right now? The only job you have at the core of all this is to maintain your health. That doesn’t mean getting a six-pack or finally making that healthy banana bread recipe. When I say health, I mean overall well-being. Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual all working together. You are not going to be as productive/creative/motivated at this time. Most likely because the world literally feels END OF DAYS-ish.. I think allowing yourself the space to grieve loss of normalcy should be the focus, the rest is surviving. It’s extremely hard to see people online seemingly living their best life inside during this time, and I remind you…that’s what the MUTE button is for! Remember that you’re not seeing the full scope of what people are going though and that you’re not alone. Try to create new rhythms that feel good to you RIGHT NOW, and stop trying to force normalcy into an extremely abnormal time. Do small things that build toward overall wellness. An afternoon nap, a comforting meal, or some gentle yoga…whatever it is, make sure it’s contributing to the benefit of your total health, not just the physical.

So I just got fired from my last source of income. I’m a freelance graphic designer and so work is always unguaranteed. I have no idea how to bounce back when it seems like every single person and company is struggling right now. I don’t have a large social media presence like others in my field, and I’m thinking this is preventing me from getting any work that might be left. Do you have any tips for me? Not too sure how to go about this kind of self promotion.

I totally understand this as things have generally slowed in my industry too! My best advice is use this unique time to do the type of building that you normally wouldn’t have time for when things are busy and bustling. This is a great time to post more of your work online, revamp your portfolio, and update your site. Another excellent opportunity we have right now is TIME. Time to actually network and reach out to folks just to “meet”. That might mean introducing yourself to some people in adjacent industries that could use you as a resource for future projects. For example, reaching out to video producers that might work alongside graphic designers in their client work, or advertising agency creative directors to hear what type of clients they are working with. People love to talk about themselves, so while you may not be asking them for a job, you are staying top of mind for future work. Lastly and most importantly, don’t expect yourself to navigate this perfectly, and do what you can. We are wading through the murky, scary waters of a pandemic, all figuring it out together.

To ask Chinae your question, email advice@restlessmagazine.net

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