The bottom line is:
There is nothing like a global pandemic to shake up your sense of reality – a time, I am sure, we are all desperate to forget. But before you press ‘delete’ on the events of the past 15 months, surely there must be something positive arising from such a monumental experience?
The only constant of the past year and a half.
I am sure that my life was utter chaos before any pandemic had the chance to change the meaning of that word. Although, somehow I felt in control of it – ordered chaos you might say. Certainly, I found some kind of security in the narratives I reinforced about myself: a socialite, spontaneous, profound individual. But when the first Lockdown began, there was only one identity that I could uphold for two months straight. Anxiety.
My bodily reaction to the global transformation underway was: sweating, heart palpitations, insomnia, irritability, and agoraphobia (the fear of entering public spaces or leaving the home). By the time we reached May, my anxiety only just began to stabilise, but only through lengthy yoga sessions, mediations, intentional breathing, and exercise, was this possible.
The only thing you can really control is evolution of your consciousnessHitomi Mochizuki, Spiritual Lessons I Would Pay To Learn Sooner
You can imagine how pivotal it must have been to realise that actually, you can simply let go of this anxiety if you dedicate significant time to this healing process. You can let go of narratives and identities that no longer serve you to make space for who you actually are. You can find refuge in simply being. As wonderfully expressed by Hitomi Mochizuki: “the only thing you can really control is the evolution of your consciousness”.
It has taken a pandemic to realise we can handle change as we have done so many times before.
Making Space & Art
During the pandemic, I realised one of my lifelong goals: to write a book. No idea on the subject matter but a book nonetheless. Even in a pandemic, I set the bar high in regard to creativity and success. A great way to hinder exactly what I was trying to cultivate. Excuses flowed: I’m not an expert, I didn’t study English at university, I have little to no writing experiences, I am a complete beginner, everyone will think I’m stupid – a downward spiral.
I really gave myself no space at all to actually make the art. Imposter syndrome threatens to haunt us with an internal devaluing of ourselves and our deserving achievements. We start to wonder whether it was our talent or simply luck and nepotism that earned us our place in the world. As a result of this, the most liberating piece of advice was that, actually, no one cares. Your family, friends, and your outlandish neighbour are not simply waiting to witness your failures with popcorn in hand. They are most likely focused on their own relative preoccupations.
So, make bad art rather than none at all.
An Abundance of Time
What is time?
One of the frequent existentialist questions I have asked myself during the pandemic. Some might view the long hours spent staring out of their bedroom window as wasted time. I beg to differ. Only in this time did I realise that actually aside from the basic life processes: eating, sleeping, working, there is a surplus of time to be spent on doing your own “thing”.
We all played the piano, danced, or practised a certain sport at some point in life but undoubtedly gave it up to pursue something seemingly more valuable. During the pandemic, I made a habit of practising yoga for 30 minutes a day and learning about meditation. A year later, I can now say with absolute certainty that it is the sole reason that anxiety no longer affects me to the same extent as it did before. It is quite amusing that we continued to obsess over productivity or our lack thereof, even during a global pandemic.
It has taken a pandemic to realise there is always time.
All my life, I was an extrovert. Compelled to vibrant social situations, parties, events, pubs, and the like, I found value in my interaction with others. What’s more, I viewed learning as a social process. So, every social encounter became an opportunity to discover and envision others and myself through a different lens. Not to say I was wrong, but perhaps I miscalculated the sheer amount of energy exerted by these interactions – no wonder I took so many naps at university.
I find there is nothing more fulfilling than an insightful discussion about humanity. However, there were certainly times where my internal dialogue became clouded by the polyvocality of other’s wonderous and grandiose ideas. Really it was my refusal to spend valuable time alone to reflect on what I actually thought and believed.
It has taken a pandemic to realise we can make space for our minds.
There is no doubt about it, Britons want to return to normality. We felt an unspoken but assured sense of momentum towards a so-called normal life, with each progressive tightening or loosening of restrictions in the UK. Now I can only speak from personal experience but along the rollercoaster of changing Covid policies, I started to wonder what state of normality we were heading towards. Life pre-Covid was lively and exciting, but also misguided, lacking in direction and definitive goals.
Rather than promptly returning to this, isolation and an abundance of time encouraged me to think about the necessities of life that I wanted to return to. For me, they were incredibly simple. Drinking coffee inside Costa, rather than on a bench in the rain. Going for a long drive with a friend – not a walk, anything but another walk. Truly, the pandemic placed life in a sieve and elevated the most important human experiences to the highest level. And so, I contemplated this “new normal” in my head.
It has taken a pandemic to realise that the world needs my full attention – nothing less.