My Pandemic Experience
Having lived alone for the duration of the pandemic and worked remotely for more than three years, I often felt isolated from my friends and family. I’d moved to a new city shortly before the pandemic began, so many in my social circle were in different states. At the same time, I’ve battled a sense of stuckness and the most persistent case of cabin fever in my life. During the lockdown period, opportunities to make new acquaintances or form new friendships became nonexistent.
All of my activities, whether relating to work, my personal life, or my hobbies, were happening within the same space—one that felt increasingly small. I also experienced a layoff, lost my grandmother to Covid-19, and went through the process of selling a home. Upheaval seemed to be the only constant in my life, and I struggled to navigate my way through demanding circumstances that had no easy answers. I often felt I had to meet these challenges on my own.
Creating a Journey Map
During a moment of introspection—I’ve certainly had no shortage of time for thinking—I asked myself: What would you do for a client in this situation? The answer was immediate and simple: I’d create a journey map. I’d make a concrete artifact to illustrate experiences that have sometimes seemed abstract. So I did just that. It felt slightly radical to turn a UX tool into a life-management tactic and spend my time and attention documenting my own experiences. To focus the empathy that my work demands on myself.
When making this journey map, I created five separate tracks: one each for my professional life, personal life, health, family relationships, and world events. For each track, I captured key events and significant feelings—the highs and the lows. Completing this journey-mapping activity was surprisingly satisfying. Applying a template to my own experiences enabled me to articulate what had previously felt nebulous. Plus, seeing the different tracks laid out in tandem and looking at the events and feelings collectively gave me a way to understand a set of complex and, at times, difficult circumstances.