I guess I can’t say that I can ‘look back’ at the pandemic, considering we’re still in the throes of it, however, I feel like emotionally we’ve all gone through the worst that the pandemic will throw at us. Hopefully. Luckily for me, quarantine was an almost pleasurable experience. I found the regularity of my routine and the high level of control I could exert on every facet of my life quite relaxing. I was lucky to have work to keep me busy, which is probably the defining factor of anyone’s quarantine experience; as well as two dogs who are suitably entertaining.
I’ve been working on a project started by a friend called Spaces, which offers mental health support groups on topics such as grief, relationships and anxiety due to COVID-19. Having not experienced any such anxiety, (apart from when I actually had COVID-19) I started thinking about what had changed during this time. Was it something in my new life or perhaps the world around me that kept me calm? The more I thought about this, the more I realised what that one thing was that made this pandemic so comfortable almost.
With no one to fake smile at, no small talk to be made and zero expectations on behaviour; the pandemic was kind of a free-for-all. You could behave exactly how you wanted to, and that was okay. It was this kind of emancipating from social conventions where everything you did was acceptable and every feeling was valid. You only needed to speak to the people you really wanted to and say things that you truly felt, thanks to a clever combination of everyone else doing this along with some people really losing their shit — therefore making us feel like our shit was definitely OK to share.
I feel like the conversations I had during this time and the way I processed things were so much more clear and true to who I am than any other time in my life. Nothing I did was coloured by someone else, and everything I did was mainly because I felt like doing it. Looking back, this now feels incredibly liberating.
I think we finally began to speak our minds, to be who we truly are and show this more authentic, real side of ourselves because of that lack of connection and interaction, that many found so difficult to deal with. If this was you, perhaps facing that reality of what you are was too much to handle?
This can be a conversation for another time, but something to think about.
Now that we are slowly emerging from our self-contained cocoons, I’m starting to think about how to maintain this authenticity that has usurped my everyday. I already find myself being swayed by what I see other people wearing, doing and thinking — and this takes me back to the days where I really had no idea what other humans were up to for weeks at a time. I definitely think that the pandemic brought us closer to our real selves, if only for a moment, and that this is something to be cherished, appreciated and hopefully realised for longer than just lockdown.