Thoughts from the first week

It goes without saying that now is an uncertain, uncomfortable, weird time for most, if not all of us. It feels like we’re in the midst of a worldwide cultural reset.

Daily life as we know it has changed, at least for the short-term. We are reprioritizing and reevaluating. The Earth can breathe and grow as it should without our intervention. We’re in sync, suddenly awarded time and room to learn and grow and reflect. I’m convinced positive change has to come out of this tragedy.

In the middle of an election year in which capitalism and democratic socialism are going head-to-head, the pandemic is exposing the fallacies in our systems. The true meaning of a necessity is revealing itself. We are relying on community — social distancing for the safety of our neighbors, supporting local business and sacrificing for the greater good.

The system is shifting, pieces are crumbling — individually, nationally and globally.

Social distancing and self-isolation are not only the buzzwords of the month, they’re major parts of our new daily routines. Suddenly and indefinitely being isolated, and in my case entirely alone, is a shock. I keep wondering, “When will things go back to normal?” But the answer is never.

There has been a disruption in social norms and comforts and it feels wrong. Embracing this change now will decrease the amount of time we must endure it. The longer we reject it, the longer it will go on. No matter how long quarantine persists, I think we will come out knowing better and knowing more.

The hardest part is the lack of certainty — a firm end-date to this isolation and how we will recover are questions that hang in the balance — but I’m trying to find solidarity in oblivion. There’s something comforting, albeit terrifying, about everyone not knowing for sure. This global and indefinite pause poses the possibility of positive change if we take the right steps forward.

I am lucky and privileged enough to say my biggest loss has been comradery. Virtual communication only gives you a fraction of what in-person connection does. Between non-verbal communication and body language and inflection, face-to-face conversations hold much more nuance than text communication ever could. Convincing myself everyone hates me and that I’m insufferable is getting increasingly easier as quarantine continues.

To say I have lost comradery is not to say I have lost friends. When we emerge from our cocoons, everyone I love will still be there. Or so I keep repeating, trying to give myself something to look forward to.

Whenever this concludes and we're welcomed by the world once again, I look forward to hugs and sunsets and eating at restaurants and concerts and the beach and going to the movies. If I focus too hard on the future, I have no choice to submit to the abyss of oblivion, something I'm trying to avoid, as much as is in my control. Therefore, I yearn for the small things.

Any gain or loss we experience during this pause is part of the process, which is being expedited by all the sudden shifts that are occurring around us.

It’s very easy to place all value in oneself in productivity and work — when that’s taken away, we sort of cling and grasp to any morsel of self-identity we can. I do, at least. While I’m holed up, all alone in my studio apartment, I am responsible for holding myself accountable, getting my work done on time and entertaining myself. It’s up to me and only me to keep myself above water. That is uncomfortable.

Self-preservation is not a shameful urge to submit to right now. I think selfishness can be vital to maintaining one’s sanity. Think about your neighbors, loved ones and the strangers among you, of course. But don’t forget to look after yourself.

Stay home. Take a walk. Feed yourself. Feed your brain. Hydrate. Dance around. Rewatch your favorite movie. Don't pressure yourself to acquire the perfect bod. Stay in bed because that's what feels best today. Do anything and everything it takes to feel good. It’s one of the only things — partially — in our control.