Frankly, the fall of 2020 was terrible! It was filled with uncertainty, loss of control, loss of people, loss of self, experiences, jobs, time… Everything spiraled downward for everyone so quickly. By mid-winter, I became emotionally numb. You know what I mean? Nothing was exciting or agonizing anymore; I was just a walking blob, doing what had to be done. Something shifted around that time, though. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what had shifted, but after many days of introspection, I realized that it was my own self. I had changed so drastically from the fall to mid-winter that it was hard to define and process the transformation all at once. Accepting this shift has led to inner peace. Two huge parts of my pre-pandemic identity (reluctant productivity and a constant internal spark) had run off somewhere. Ironically enough, allowing myself to acknowledge what has been lost during this time has helped me stay grounded and connected. Hopefully this process can help you, too. Pam always says that “being an adult means learning to hold the paradox of emotions”. It’s so true.
Here is what happened after accepting the complexity of emotions, of the self, and of the 20s:
The daily heightened awareness and panic about what was happening in the world dissipated. Suddenly, I was walking slower outside and paying more attention to each step. I was having more meaningful phone conversations with friends. I was focusing more easily on schoolwork. I became quieter and more realistic. I let go of the massive pile of expectations that are impossible to uphold during a pandemic. Most amazingly, I stopped judging myself for having changed. This was revolutionary. Granted, this transformation happened after spending many hours and days working on self-care, but it turns out that you can only spend a certain amount of months in fight and flight mode before crashing and changing. It seems so logical now, but the adverse and unexpected effects of the pandemic do not exactly make life logical. That’s alright, though! I have realized that the more we can accept the unknowns and illogical aspects of life, the faster we can heal.
Holding loss and calm simultaneously has become my new norm. Sure, I’m not as bubbly or idealistic anymore. Sure, I’m not dreaming about the future as often or as extravagantly as I once did. Sure, I never met my cohort in person this year. Sure, my dad has cancer and we will always have to be more careful around him now. Sure, it’s not easy to long for the past and to be painfully aware of what we touch, who we see, and what we do on a daily basis to avoid getting sick and getting others sick, but other things are true too. The birds still chirp in the morning, a walk around the block still creates endorphins, a good movie or phone-call can still boost a day’s mood, the smell of a freshly baked loaf of bread is just as incredible as it was a decade ago, vaccines are being distributed, venues are starting to reopen…
We are now over a year older and a pandemic wiser. We are currently surviving one of the hardest times in modern history. Of course we are going to change. How could we not? It’s okay. It’s really okay. Honestly, it’s the one thing that remains certain.