Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good.
Today: A 23-year-old looks for work while enjoying Chloe Ting workouts, Trader Joe’s cold brew, and the occasional night out.
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $182/week on unemployment
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $182/week on unemployment
*This diary was written in August 2020.
9 a.m. — Welcome to the 165th consecutive day of March 13. I wake up in my childhood bedroom and scramble to get ready as I told my mom I'd help her get groceries first thing this morning. As of now, I live with my parents and little brother. I planned moving out early in 2020, but thanks to COVID-19 I lost all 3 of my jobs within a few weeks. Without having a stable income, it didn't make sense to leave the house and begin paying rent if I didn't have to.
11 a.m. — We head to Trader Joes and come back with our bags stocked with salmon, frozen fruits, kombucha, greek yogurt, and arugula. My mom paid for the groceries with her credit card as she usually does, something I don't ever take for granted now that I'm only receiving $182 a week from unemployment assistance.
3 p.m. — For some reason, I always tend to feel pretty sad right before my birthday. With my 24th rapidly approaching, I started thinking about what I've accomplished. My trajectory towards working in the music industry (I had an internship at a big music company before COVID) completely disintegrated as I was let go. While this definitely sucked, it has allowed me to reflect on what I truly wanted to do. The answer surprised me: it absolutely wasn't music. Instead, I loved the idea of writing and being a freelancer.
Today, as I’m scrolling through Twitter looking for pitching opportunities, I get a notification that one of my writing pieces got accepted to a publication! I'm suddenly fueled with hope and excitement, which motivates me to work out to Chloe Ting in my room. I'm currently on Day 2 of the Hourglass Challenge. I needed to see what all the hype on TikTok was about this girl, and I've got to admit, her workouts are effective. By the end, I’m lying in a puddle of my own sweat.
Daily total: $0
7:30 a.m. — I get up and scramble to get ready to take the 9:15 a.m. Wall St Ferry to Rockaway Beach ($2.75 for a one-way ticket). I'm meeting my boyfriend there — we planned to have a nice beach day, just us two. On the ferry, I sip a cold brew that I made at home (my family and I buy the cold brew in bulk at Trader Joes for $4.99, God bless) and listen to my new favorite podcast, The Writers Co-Op.
4 p.m. — We spent such an amazing day at the beach. Under the suns' rays and intertwined in my boyfriend's arms, I sometimes forget the reality of the situation from the world around us. It's so easy for me to beat myself down about not having a job, and I get so discouraged. But days like this, where I'm outside and with someone I love, it helps clear my head and focus on what really matters. We take an Uber back to my parent's place and split it ($15).
10 p.m. — For dinner, my boyfriend and I made chicken adobo, rice, and vegetable gyoza for my entire family. I already had all the ingredients at home so we didn't have to pay for the supplies, and we make a really yummy meal for my parents and brother. After, my boyfriend and I go to my room where we split an old bottle of red wine and start watching Love On The Spectrum on Netflix. This show is so damn wholesome, it makes my heart swell!
Daily total: $17.75
10:30 a.m. — Ugh, I hate, hate, hate waking up around this time. Waking up anytime past 9 a.m. sends me into a downwards spiral and makes me feel like I've wasted any chance on productivity. I shake my boyfriend awake and gently ask him to get back to his apartment because lord knows I can't do a lick of work when he's in my bed. We quickly share a cup of TJ's cold brew and then he's on his way.
5 p.m. — My brain feels like it's gonna explode. I spent my day online, applying to jobs, following new editors on Twitter, and brainstorming topics for my next article. I also signed up for a free SEO course, a skill I know I'll need in the future, and ordered a new book on advertising ($14.29) since I'm interested in copywriting as well. This is exciting stuff, but when I bite off more than I can chew, I get so overwhelmed. I decide to take a bath using a vanilla bourbon soap from Yves Rocher (a gift from my mom) and Epsom salt soak with lavender from Dr. Teals ($7.59), while reading How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, a book that's teaching me to be aware of the 'attention economy'.
8 p.m. — I have dinner with my parents tonight. They order pizza from next door and we each have a few slices while discussing what we think is going to happen in the 2020 Election. It's scary stuff. I text my boyfriend to come back over: I can't help but want him here. My parents are really good friends with him and have no qualms about him spending as many nights in the house as he wants. European parents, man.
Daily total: $0
9 a.m. — Phew, I actually woke up somewhat early. And to good news, too! I got an email saying one of my other pieces got accepted to a publication on Medium.com, which normally has a 70% rejection rate! I'm actually so happy and wake my boyfriend up with kisses. We repeat our usual routine, sharing a cup of TJ cold brew, and then he leaves to go back to his place.
4 p.m. — Rinse and repeat of yesterday. Working out to Chloe Ting, applying to jobs, research, learning, editing my piece before it gets published. It might sound repetitive but that's a bit of a theme during COVID, isn't it? I don't leave the house too often, and I'm so focused on building my personal brand/writing/applying to jobs that I rarely find myself leaving the house in the first place, anyways.
8 p.m. — I've had a productive day and tell myself I deserve to be social (while being safe!). I go over to my best friend’s apartment. She's been in my quarantine circle and actually tested negative for COVID this morning, which makes me feel safe. We have some wine, Greek salad, couscous, and chicken. I pitch for the food and drinks, about $30.
Daily total: $30
9:30 a.m. — I wake up in my friend's bed and have a mug of the coffee she brewed. I’m not hungover, which is clutch. Thank you, organic red wine. I take the subway back home to my parent's place ($2.75).
5 p.m. — It’s been another extremely repetitive day. I’ve applied to a job, worked on my writing, finished reading a copywriting book, and worked out to Chloe Ting. The sadness starts creeping up on me again unfortunately, so I quickly hop onto my bed, sit down, and start to meditate to “21 Days of Abundance,” a guided meditation podcast. Usually I’m extremely wary of words like “abundance” “vibes” “manifestation” but this guided meditation is actually really relaxing. I start feeling a bit better after.
9 p.m. — After having dinner with my parents, I hop on my computer for one last SEO lecture. To avoid getting stressed out, I simultaneously put on my Summer Fridays hydration mask that was given to me by a friend (it’s so, so good) and light a peony candle from Trader Joes ($3.99). I pass out pretty early.
Daily total: $6.74
8 a.m. — Today my entire family and I are heading to Governors Island for a small day trip. It’s a beautiful summer day and I feel so at ease on the ferry as the wind blows through my hair while I continue to read How To Do Nothing.
4:30 p.m. — It’s been such a nice day with my family. We got tacos together, then went to this little gelato store tucked away in Red Hook and ordered limoncello and macaroons (Dad paid). My family is complicated, and we don’t always get along, but today I’m super grateful to have spent such a good day with them.
Daily total: $0
8 a.m. — I wake up and straight away get to work. I NEED SOME KIND OF JOB. $182 a week pays for next to nothing in NYC. Even though I don’t pay rent and or groceries, I still feel anxious with this little money coming in. I hop on Facebook, where I was told by an old neighbor who had a kid that there’s a family FB group in my neighborhood, and apparently there is a hot market for babysitters and tutors. I post an introduction, and five minutes later I already have three message requests. Yay!
12 p.m. — Success! I’ve set up a few interviews for next week to offer tutoring and babysitting services. I’m eager to get some cash flow again, but I find myself a bit anxious again. I don’t want to babysit full time. I really want to have a career someday. But applying to jobs won’t pay for my necessities, so I'm going to babysit for now until that’s sorted.
8 p.m. — My boyfriend comes to my neighborhood and we decide to bike around Carroll Gardens and Red Hook together. We stop in the middle of seemingly nowhere and find a pie shop. We split a slice of key lime and some black coffee ($5). Later on, we eat dinner at a Yemeni restaurant and split the bill ($22). Also so good! Then, we finally stop at my local liquor store and buy a bottle of cabernet ($9). It’s definitely been a splurge with the spending, but summer days like this make me so happy, and it's a decent way to say goodbye to August before it slips away.
Daily total: $36
Weekly total: $90.49
Reflection: My wellness routine is important, but not vital. I don't have the money to splurge on fitness classes, retail therapy, makeup, sex toys, or anything else that would fall under the "self-care" regimen. But it's okay because for now spending time with people I love is more than enough. The most positive impact on my routine is working out and writing. I think each is their own form of therapy. The former allows me to clear my mind and focus on the way my body moves, while the latter lets me spill all my thoughts onto paper and see how I'm truly feeling.