As I sit in my poky little studio in Highgate with no frills and limited fancy, I have been in this bunker for many years. My plan was to move out in 2020 as I have outgrown my flat and my flat has outgrown me.
Then on 20th March 2020 the unimaginable happened, the planet went into isolation. I watched in horror as news feeds mentioned the increased death toll across Europe, which was the worst hit until America. Nothing strikes a chord louder than when catastrophe is happening in your own back yard?
My reaction was surprising even to me. I stayed inside. For days. And days. AND DAYS. I became irrational about other people in the street. Crossing the road to avoid human interaction became a matter of life and death and I was singing happy birthday every time I washed my hands, TWICE, for the first month at least.
As a single woman I have no sounding board for reassurance and no one to snap me out of my funk. I can go days in uncertain panic, before I read something that slaps me back to reality. The pandemic was a jolt of bitterness I never anticipated in my wildest dreams.
Being an ethnic woman, something else happened. The George Floyd murder did something to my senses. Not only was I panicking about a viral plague, I was also panicking about an irrational fear that I was under a more sinister form or attack. An attack on my very being and one that was very personal. I felt unsafe to go outside and threatened by everyone in the streets. I had to get a grip.
I saw a planet that came to our defence. People all over the World, in the most breathtaking human deployment I had ever seen. The Black Lives Matter movement gave me some reassurance that I was not alone and that people of all races, colours, ages and religions were able to empathise with the struggles black people were facing with compassion and strength.
I watched the news feeds capturing army’s of civilians all over the world, rich aside poor, shouting black lives mattered. Then I also observed the silence. My close friends and those who I had lived with, loved and cried with all said nothing.
People who I had stood by, defended and gone out of my way for, were suddenly absent in my time of private contemplation. I could also have reached out and said I was hurting but this uncomfortable exchange seemed more futile, when considering there was little consideration for my feelings during a global racial uprising. Silence.
When I spoke to a friend recently he said he didn’t feel like he needed to contact his friends to see if they were alright. He noted that maybe we had just grown apart. I thought it was the wisest thing he had ever said. Definitely. Although I knew it before this summer, Corona reiterated the fact that nothing is permanent. No life, no job, no partner or friend?
What the pandemic has surfaced has been the realities of our fundamental connections, as well as an understanding of how fragile our lives are. Those who we deemed important we made an effort for, checked on them, maintained healthy connections and considered their mental health.
The pandemic also seemed to have had a flip side, the ugly truth. The reality that some of our friendships weren’t that special and despite the air miles and the loyalty points, these friendship were dispensable when it really mattered. If there was ever a time when you were in any doubt whether that guy really liked you or whether that person was really your friend or whether a family member really considered your feelings, a pandemic would have been an excellent time to reach out? ?
“My take on growth is don’t get bitter, get better. “When we look to other people to comfort us we are giving them power over our happiness. Inner strength comes from being able to come out of adversity on our own terms, with strength and inner peace. (M.Isherwood 11.10.2020)
As for my mindset now, it has definitely changed. I went to work calmer when I came out of lock-down. Suddenly my sense of what was important was clearer. I wanted a simpler life and started to focus on my inner voice. I suddenly embraced the imperfections in me and am grateful for every day I am alive. I have also learned boundaries for the first times and am learning the importance of nurturing and appreciating the right people in my life.
Model Tyson Beckford said “Don’t be afraid to lose people that weren’t down for you anyway!”
With grace I have learned that this pandemic was the best thing that could have happened to reset the balance. Don’t be sad with what you now know but instead be grateful that you know it? I used it as an opportunity to grow and learn humility and enjoy the little things in life, as well as learning to like myself. It was a long road but Corona got me there. The pandemic also forced me to look within and finally start to live my truest selves. No filter. We were all sleep walking through life and now we are awake. I still have a long way to go but until I get there… it’s been emotional.
Image; No copy right intended. Source unknown.