I woke up to silence one day. I was exhausted and had used up all of my energy crying to myself. The reality was slowly sinking in. Pandemic is hard, but it is gruelling when you live alone.
Looking back, I was lucky to graduate and find a job in The Netherlands right before the pandemic hit. It had been a few months since we were placed under lockdown as the deadly COVID-19 was rapidly spreading across the world, and I was craving for human contact.
There was no way to fly back home as international travel was halted until further notice. My office had shut its doors and visiting friends without exposing myself to the virus was a distant dream. I was stuck within four walls, alone and miserable.
Across the globe, my counterparts were enjoying the first phase of lockdown like a long-awaited family vacation. But I was dreading it. Although the first few days were enjoyable to me as well, alone quickly wearing me down. I was no longer able to relish the luxury of not having to get up and get dressed by 6 AM. Apart from the isolation, I was living in constant fear. Fear of losing my career, fear of not seeing my loved ones and fear of losing my sanity due to loneliness.
Although Zoom calls and Netflix were slowly creeping into my new routine, no amount of virtuality could replace the satisfaction of human presence. Amongst all of the already existing negativity, being laid off came as a huge blow. Losing employment in a foreign land brought with it a slew of other problems ranging from visa issues to financial instability. Stress and anxiety had inadvertently become a part of my life.
I started spending countless hours contemplating the situation, gazing outside my window at the old tree in the cold and dark weather being battered with rain, which served as a perfect analogy for the current turbulence in my life. This outlook towards these challenges didn’t change until one day I decided. As erstwhile poets and artists have done throughout the ages, I decided to draw inspiration from the tree; Unflinching, unyielding and unrelenting. I realized it was time I stopped wallowing in self-pity and started making the most of the situation.
Being at a low point and with the isolation, gave me the strength to find solace in introspection. In the pre-COVID era, I found myself focusing on outdoor activities such as travelling and was blissfully unaware of the number of things that could be done from the comfort of my own home. I took advantage of the situation and began concentrating on my physical and emotional wellbeing. It is amazing how much can be accomplished from such a small space. In the past fifteen months, my room has transformed from a mere home office to a dance studio, botanical herb garden, culinary school, art gallery and a meditation camp!
While in the rat race that most of us participate in, I forgot to value the simple things life offers. I slowly re-learnt to appreciate the unfettered child-like joy one experiences when trying new things. I gave myself the time to sit back and relax and to reevaluate the situation in this new mindset. I learnt to let things be and live for myself.
To all those solo beings out there, I can understand what you are going through. I know how difficult it can get to deal with all of the negativity on your own. It is something that I can identify with, as I too have laughed and cried at myself before. However, keep in mind that nothing is permanent. A wild storm will always pass, the sun will always rise and flowers will always bloom. To cherish the good things in life, we must learn to admire these hardships. Whenever you’re feeling down, look for something to give you strength. We’ve almost made it to the finish line; as there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Savour the small happiness that comes your way. Appreciate all that you can. Choose to have hope. And be grateful for everything that is still intact.
Stay positive, stay safe and keep going. Trust me, this too shall pass.