23rd March 2020 is a date I don’t think many of us will forget anytime soon. It is a date that will be etched in history books for years to come. One year on, I often wonder how it is changed us, not just as a society but also as individuals. Will it change how we interact with each other? Has it made us face home truths? Have we made life changes that will impact our post-pandemic life?
Chances are if you’re reading this, you will have some of the above thoughts too even if it just for a second. Personally, this year has been a year of clarity and discovery. Clarity because I feel right now, I am content warts and all. Discovery because I have learned a lot about myself and in turn my family and friends. I have stuff I need to work on (Haven’t we all) but that is the whole point of growth no?
I am generally an optimistic person and while some may see that as a sign of weakness, I find it is a strength but I would be lying if over the past year I said I didn’t feel rage, sadness, anger, and even jealousy from time to time. In fact, I spent a long time wondering what these feelings were before I recognised them and in turn allowed myself to embrace them. We spend a lot of our time thinking we shouldn’t feel these negative emotions but the truth is, it is part of being human. Getting angry or feeling jealous is part of human life. What impacts our personality and what is more important are the actions following this. I general my feelings and emotions were a lot more intense over the past and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.
If there is anything that can show you the passage of time it is key life events. During the pandemic, I have had friends who have gotten married, graduated, or had babies. All of this would normally result in some form of celebration. I love spoiling my friends and celebrating them but this year like many others. I have had to be happy just checking in with them all through technology and send them gifts when I can but ultimately, I cannot wait to see them all in person and be able to show them how happy I am for them and share their joy.
I also found the introspection many of us have done during this time, interesting. Many of us seem to be asking ourselves, What makes up happy? Why do we do the things we do? Is there anything in our lives we would like to change? Ultimately wondering what serves us and I was no exception. I spent the first part of 2020 (pre lockdown) in a state of grief and numbness which continued during lockdown but when I was ready I came out of that mindset and spent a lot of time writing things down, journaling, learning, and truly listening to myself. It allowed me to see what gives me purpose and the steps I need to take to achieve that.
So as you can sense, I was a bit of an emotional cocktail. Bouncing from being fine one minute to bursting into tears, the next. It has been a hot minute since I sat down with a professional and discussed my feelings but I needed it this year more than ever. Being closed off from the world, moving my life back up north has made me realised there were things I needed to talk through in a safe space. So I opened the door and sought help. I will admit the first try did not go well (nothing wrong with the counsellor but more to do with the fact the sessions were serving me correctly but I tried again and this time feel a lot happier with my choice. Part of this also means I have had to learn to open up to people in my life. Looking into the relationships I have, I realised I need to open up a little more and be a bit vulnerable. I am always authentic and genuine but there is always a block that I need to breakdown.
A big challenge for me over the past twelve months, like many women, has been my relationship with my body. For years it has been a bit of a journey. I won’t lie this was one of my main worries I had when it came to lockdown. Not just in the sense of my past food issue but looking after my body by listening to what it needs, moisturising it when it needs it, going for a walk, doing some stretches to release the tension it may be carrying. I suffered my worst dermatitis attack in years during the pandemic and it was hard! Now, I am slowly reconnecting with my body.
I also think it is important to remember the entire pandemic has not been doom and gloom. The year had its good moments. Remember Normal People? or how we collectively watched Bridgerton? Even some of the Zooms were fun for a while. Those moments brought us joy and shouldn’t be forgotten. I enjoyed the summer when things opened slightly. I was careful but it was still wonderful and I will be grateful for those moments. Recently my family (who I live with) sat together to watch Marvel shows and Star Wars more regularly which I love and are moments I will cherish forever. Moving back home allowed me to spend more time with them and while it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses (Anyone who says otherwise is lying) I was able to spend big moments like Ramadaan with them but also it is the small moments we have shared that reminds me, you know what, even amongst the doom, we have a lot to be grateful for.
It also allowed me to find a new mantra. One of my favourite quotes comes from a book I read called, Power Hour by Adrienne Herbert and it is You can do hard things. This year more than most we have faced times where we have felt overwhelmed or in situations where we essentially need to pull up our big girl pants and just get the dang thing done. I think I repeat it back to myself daily and I find it really helps my mindset. Now read that back to yourself, You can do hard things.
Overall, I think the big takeaway from the year has to be, be kind. Be kind to yourself, to your loved ones, to your colleagues, to the idiot on Twitter, just be kind. It is cliched but vital and something we need to remember.