A lot of mental health advice out there right now is all about living in the moment and being “present.” Personally, I have always found that very hard to do. When I was younger, I used to escape to daydreams or books, and now I escape by ruminating on the past or future. But I think right now, our present is a little (or a lot) intolerable. We need to find ways to cope with our present, and I think it’s perfectly fine if to do that by escaping our present and looking to the future.
To be clear, I don’t think it’s helpful to obsess over the future, trying to control the uncontrollable. We don’t know when all of this will end, and obsessively trying to plan an unplannable future isn’t going to help anyone right now. But there are ways to think about the future in a healthier way, a way that might make us a little happier.
In the past, when I’ve been at some of my lowest points, I would nevertheless find myself making plans for enjoying myself in the future. I think there was some subconscious part of me that was determined to feel better again, and wanted to have a schedule full of opportunities to be happy when that time eventually arrived.
Unfortunately, right now I can’t make any solid plans for doing fun things because we really have no idea when all of this will finally end. But just because I can’t make solid plans, that doesn’t mean I can’t find things to look forward to. So here is my post-pandemic bucket list of sorts:
1. Dyeing My Hair Strawberry-Blonde
I absolutely love dyeing my hair. So far, my hair has been caramel, platinum blonde, auburn, purple, pink, coral, red, orange, and most recently, dark brown. Not to sound conceited, but I kind of love my hair any color. I don’t think I’ve ever dyed my hair and thought “…yikes.” I think the dark brown color I have now is gorgeous on me. I don’t want to dye it because it looks bad, I’m just getting that itch to change things up. Usually, I’d just order hair dye online and do it myself, but I do not have confidence in myself when it comes to lightening my hair. I’ve done it once before, and my hair didn’t fall out or anything, but it was a gnarly yellow-orange color. Now I leave lightening up to the professionals. I’ve never done strawberry-blonde before, and I’m super excited. As much as I want to get it done right this very second, I’m looking on the bright side. If the pandemic goes on for a few more months, then my pixie cut will be more fully grown out and I’ll have more hair to dye.
2. Taking My Son Back to the YMCA Nursery
There are so many different aspects of this one that I’m excited for. First, by the time public gathering places like the YMCA are opened again, my son will be much older than he was when he last went to the nursery, and I think he’ll really enjoy playing with other babies. I’m also so excited for all of the employees at the Y to see him and how big he’s gotten. They all fawned over him before everything closed down, and I know they’ll be amazed at how long/tall he’s getting. Finally, I am so excited to get those precious two hours to myself again. Before the pandemic, we used to go to the Y almost every day. They would watch my son for two hours and I would work out, do some writing, or just veg on social media while drinking iced coffee. Those nursery hours were my time to do what I needed to do by myself, whether that was work or self-care. I’m definitely missing them right now, but instead of dwelling on what I’m missing, I’m trying to think of how wonderful it will be to come back after being gone. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
3. Going Through the Car Wash
This is going to sound weird, but I love car washes. The automatic kind with all the pretty lights. Something about them reminds me of being a kid. For a minute or two, I just float through bright lights and sparkling mist and to be honest it really soothes my anxiety. I used to take the cars through the car wash once a month before the pandemic, and when this is all over, it will be one of the first things I do.
4. Returning to Our Dungeons & Dragons Campaign
Before the pandemic hit, my husband and I met up with a group of friends once a week to play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign that’s been building for the last year and a half. I was skeptical when I started, but D&D is genuinely one of my favorite hobbies now. I love collecting dice, I love seeing how my tiefling barbarian character, Marcyra, grows and changes, and I even love how my husband, the Dungeon Master (DM) laughs maniacally while planning our sessions. Although there are online options for D&D, having both of us working from home with a 5-month old baby has been hard on both of us and my husband hasn’t had time or energy to set up an online format. Even though I miss our weekly games, like a lot, this time off has given me a lot of time to consider my character’s arc and who I see her becoming when the campaign does eventually resume, which has been great.
5. Getting a Pedicure
When this is over, I am 100% getting a pedicure with some friends. We’ll drink wine and sit in massage chairs while a kind soul scrapes off our foot gunk, and with it, all of the stress and pain from these past months. I honestly don’t even care much about getting my toe nails polished, I just love the experience of pedicures. I love the hot towels on my legs, I love realizing that you and your friends haven’t spoken for several minutes because everyone just got so comfy they forgot to keep up conversation, and I just love having plans with friends.
6. Bringing My Son to His Grandparents
My parents and my husband’s parents have been dying being away from their grandson this long, and I plan on taking full advantage of that fact when the pandemic ends. I love my son more than I realized I could love anything, but being with him 24/7 without a single break for months on end has been…a lot. When this is finally over, he’s going to go for a nice little sleepover at both grandparents’ houses for a few days, and my husband and I will catch up on some much needed sleep and enjoy the silence that can only come from not having a baby in the house. (Oh, and I’m really excited to see how happy he is to see them in person after only seeing them on video for so long.)
7. Getting Iced Coffee With My Sister
The very second that all of this ends, I will be waiting outside my parents’ house to pick up my little sister and we are going to go to a cutesy, overpriced coffee shop to get the girliest coffee drinks imaginable, and I cannot wait. I miss that more than just about anything else on this list, just our fun little coffee dates, catching up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. Sure, we talk on the phone now, but it’s just not the same.
So what about you? What’s on your post-pandemic bucket list? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to add a few things to my own list and I need more ideas!