Thoughts from an ‘essential worker’

Ramblings from the many emotions I felt after suddenly becoming an essential worker

Baani A
3 min readJul 16, 2021
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

As the pandemic hit in 2020, I saw myself become an essential worker due to the project I was on. It wasn’t until quite later that I understood what the term meant and all that came with it.

Most of us did not imagine having to live through a pandemic growing up. We might have had a grandparent who lived through one but those were distant, dinner table stories that shaped the lives of those who lived through it.

The past 18 months have been no less than a whirlwind of emotions so here are some of my thoughts from being an essential worker.

I am grateful

Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

It certainly never crossed my mind, in 24 years, that I’d have to live through a pandemic. As someone who did a degree in Computer Science and works as a Data Scientist, I didn’t think I would ever have to think about communicable diseases as much as I did in 2020. Having the opportunity to help fight the pandemic (certainly not on the frontline) was a once in a lifetime opportunity (I hope) for me.

I was constantly thinking “I am so grateful for this opportunity to help in this mayhem”. And it helped to see the same sentiment in those around me.

I am proud

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

In the chaos, through the first wave and the second and everything in between, it was important to stop and appreciate what I was doing. Not only was my role incredibly challenging, with high stakes and high visibility, I was giving it my all in the middle of the pandemic.

With losing my grandfather, nearly losing my father, worrying for the rest of the family overseas, the risk with heading into the office during the second wave, working odd hours in a high stress role, I kept going. It was easy to forget this during the chaos and took me long enough to recognise — I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

Self-care still needed to be a high priority

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

This was possibly the biggest lessons of them all. I had the preconceived notion that self-care and caring for others was mutually exclusive. It isn’t. Giving everything to work left me with nothing to give back to myself. I ignored my own needs for long enough, shutting out how I felt to keep going. What remained was a drained, emotionally and physically exhausted person that needed a lot of self-care on the other side. It took me quite some time to break this misconception but now that I am on the other side, it has become a non-negotiable.

This was my purpose

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Reflecting on what made me keep going — it was the passion I felt for the health sector. I believe better healthcare is a fundamental need for the world, and working towards it (in any small way) is what I want to dedicate my life to. I now need to find ways to continue working in the sector and while I haven’t quite figured out the how yet, I am well on my way to work out the logistics.