OPINION: The silver lining to COVID-19

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Candice Mayfield
CONTRIBUTOR 

While being in self-quarantine, it can be the perfect time to pick up an old hobby such as photography or journaling. Photo by Kylie Squiers.

COVID-19 has us all in a self-quarantine. This situation isn’t ideal for many but is needed in order to flatten the curve. During this time, you may find it increasingly harder to focus on anything other than the influx of information we are receiving from the media daily.

Taking the cautious measures in place, such as social distancing, self-isolation and general cleanliness can be exhausting, but are a necessary evil when it comes to slowing down this pandemic. If you aren’t doing these already here is a friendly reminder to stay at home, wash your hands and pay attention to your mental, as well as your physical, health during this time.

But, it is important to take this time not to stress about what you can’t control amidst this pandemic and rather turn your focus inwards. Amid the uncertainty, one thing is certain: this is the time to start becoming certain with who you are as an individual.

All of us are individual works of art, and history has proven on multiple occasions that some of the best pieces of art arise from dark times. For example, “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh, who suffered from severe depression and other mental illnesses. Another example, “Slaughterhouse-Five” and the numerous other famous books written by Kurt Vonnegut who lived through difficult times such as the aerial bombing of Dresden and The Great Depression.

So, what do these two famous contributors of the creative community have to do with us? We are living through history that will be told in depth to generations to come. The hustle and bustle from our formal normal lives has ceased to exist for the time being, and as a result we have some quality time with ourselves.

During this time, we may be feeling anxious, angry, absent-minded, sad or maybe even all of the above. These are all valid feelings, but what if you changed your focus from this self-quarantine to self-discovery and some good old-fashioned selfcare. Although the peel-off facemask, hot baths and a tub of ice cream might be your current picture of what selfcare is, challenge yourself to dive deeper. But I don’t mean dive deeper into another gallon of ice cream, I mean dive deeper and ask yourself the hard questions.

Don’t worry though, the hard questions aren’t algebra equations or rocket science. These are the questions that will help you learn who you are. During this pandemic you are going to be spending a lot of time with yourself, so it is vital and almost inevitable to discover who you actually are.

Think of this time as dating yourself.

The first step? Figure out the basics. Some questions you should ask on your first date with yourself should include, but are not limited to:

  • What are some of my favorites? (Movies, books, hobbies, etc.,)
  • Who am I? (Am I blunt or am I timid? Am I an extrovert/introvert?)
  • Who do I want to be as a person or professionally?
  • Where am I on my personal or professional journey?
  • Where do I want to be on my personal or professional journey?
  • How am I going to be who I want to be?
  • How am I going to get where I want to be?
  • What does your past, present and future look like?

You are your own storyteller. You wrote the book of your past, you are writing the book of your present and you are anticipating the book of your future.

What you do with this information is up to you. However, remember we are metaphorically dating ourselves during this crazy time. With that being said would you want a second date with you? Would you want to spend the rest of your life with this person? Well, spoiler alert, you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person, so you better like who they are or it is going to be one rough ride.

Finding out who you are on this first date is just the start though. You take this information and you adjust. For example, if your passion is photography or writing then I would highly recommend that you stop wasting your limited time in life stuck in a cubicle dreading your day to day life. The next step is to make some goals in order to score that second date with yourself.

First, write down everything in your life you don’t like or that you are lacking. Second, brainstorm how you are going to get rid of the garbage weighing you down and how you are going to obtain what you want. Third, write down your goals to achieve these things, it doesn’t matter how big or small. You could write a 5-year-plan or you could make it a goal to get out of bed before noon tomorrow. Goal-oriented has a nice sound to it and that sound looks a lot like landing a third-date with yourself.

The final step? Make it happen. No one can make it happen but yourself and no one has the answer on how to make it happen but you.

I suffer from a handful of mental health problems and have found myself struggling recently with everything going on. What am I doing during this time? I am doing my best to do the same advice I am giving you all. I have given this time with myself a lot of thought and purpose. I’ve started doing more of what I enjoy during this time.

Photography and writing are hobbies of mine that I normally don’t have time for. Now, I have the time to do what I love without feeling guilty or stressed. Being able to get out of the house, while still social distancing and taking precautions, is a good way to help clear the fog of the same four walls you have been staring at all day.

I have recently started journaling more. I use various journaling prompts I have on my selfcare Pinterest board. These prompts range from very surface topics to very deep, thought-provoking questions forcing myself to look deep within myself to come up with an answer for the prompt.

Aside from journaling, I have been reading more. I love self-help books, so I have kept myself informed, yet entertained, by reading about how to cope with my mental health. My favorite self-help book at the moment is, “Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back” by Gary John Bishop. I find these books help others who are looking for guidance when trying to discover who they are.

It is hard to be alone, but we now have the time we have needed for ourselves for quite some time now. It feels as though this pandemic has hit us head on with a semi-truck, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. A silver lining in a time like this is a must – discover yourself and be your own silver lining.

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