'At 30, I lost my job and moved back home due to Covid-19 - This is what I learnt'

Illustration. Getty Images
Illustration. Getty Images
  • Many South Africans have been working from home in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.
  • However, some have been retrenched, like 30-year-old former social media manager Peggy*.
  • She had to move back into her parents' home and says she is grateful for the opportunity to recalibrate and prioritise her mental health.

Many South Africans have been working from home in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. Several industries have been struggling to stay afloat, and this has resulted in job losses, leaving many without the means to pay rent or their bills.

Peggy*, a 30-year-old former social media manager for an agency, is one of the many professionals who have been retrenched. Unfortunately, she has had to move back into her parents' home.

This is her story: 

I remember when I was in my early 20s, my friends and I used to fantasise about owning our own homes, holding senior positions in our chosen professions and travelling the world. We thought we would conquer life by 30. But reality doesn't work that way and Covid-19 definitely pulled a fast one on us.   

I'm now 30 and back in my parents' house. I don't own my own home and I'm not even close to where I want to be career-wise. I've done everything by the book. I went to university, graduated, worked and had my own place. But why do I still feel like I'm not where I thought I would be?  

READ MORE: It's okay to defer your 2020 goals to another year if they are interrupted by the pandemic  

After I lost my job, I continued living in my apartment for a month, frantically trying to come up with a solution. I knew it was going to be difficult finding a new job, especially in my industry. I had to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be able to pay for my rent, and that's when I decided to move back home.  

A part of me knew moving back home was a wise decision and it would be the opportunity I needed to replenish myself, give myself time to breathe, and pick up the pieces. However, another part of me still felt like "the 30-year-old-failure who is unemployed and back at home".

My parents were happy to have me back home and were extremely supportive. As you can imagine, it was a huge transition. But after two weeks I finally accepted my "new normal" and surprisingly, enjoyed my time at home with my parents. Of course, there were things I missed about living alone and having my own space. There have been so many upsides to moving back home. I've learnt that wherever you may be in life and whatever dreams you might possess, hitting rock bottom can give you some much-needed perspective.

I finally came to realise moving back home at 30 isn't failure. I have since regrouped, applied for different roles in my industry, and even landed an interview with a company I've been dreaming of working for. 

Society tells us that by the age of 30, you should have your life figured out. That is unfair. We are all on different paths and there are certain things that are beyond our control. I had to learn that I have no control over a global pandemic, but what I do have control over is how I'll use the time back at home. I've learnt that being back at home is not the end; instead, it can be an opportunity to catch your breath financially.

By not having to pay rent, a tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I've managed to save the deposit I received from moving out and have saved the little savings I had. Taking a breather at home can enable you to save up a bit while you rediscover your passions. 

It's also an opportunity to prioritise your mental health. I acknowledged that I need to attend to my mental health. I've had the time to meditate in the mornings, pray for longer and even keep a journal. I now have time do things that make me happy and I can start my day feeling calmer and energised. Prioritising my mental health has helped me rediscover who I am and what my next steps are. I've been able to reassess my goals and establish what I really want for my life. 

READ MORE: Uncertainty and fear amid the pandemic: why now is a good time to reinvent your life 

Being at home has allowed me to set some realistic goals for myself. I looked at my work history and stripped it down to the basic skills I developed and realised that I have far more to offer than I let myself believe. In terms of my next career steps, I've been looking far beyond my usual line of work, expanding into other interests and giving myself the freedom to play. 

I have also spent ample time looking ahead to the next five, 10, 15 years. It can be daunting, but you can try to break what you want into parts (like starting a family, owning a home, relocating to another city), and set goals for yourself that will help you get closer to these — actionable steps you can take on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. 

Being at home has been a blessing I never thought I needed. I am a 30-year-old woman who moved back home, and do you know what? I am grateful.

I am grateful for the time I have to truly do some soul-searching and plan my next move. I have let go of the notion that I have to have it all figured out. It is, after all, my own race, pace and certainly, lane. 

*Name has been changed.

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