I don’t know about you, but things are difficult at the moment.
Not only has this lockdown left me trapped at home by cancelling my long-awaited travel plans, it has also brought a breakup, a resurfacing of negative-thinking patterns, and a question—what is the meaning of my life? Deep stuff, right?
I know I’m not the only one.
I know that this period has affected people in unimaginable ways: from grief to deteriorating mental health to financial insecurity. We are re-examining our lives; we are strengthening relationships and cutting off toxic ones.
It has been a time of endings and beginnings.
I began this lockdown very motivated, ending each day knowing I was as productive as I could be. I rekindled my love affair with art, started to chip away at the pile of books that have been growing since my university years, and even ventured into writing for Elephant Journal.
Now, though, I am exhausted. The excitement of being given all the time in the world has made me feel like my days are empty. I sit and yearn for a future of feeling something more. A future that is uncertain and, frankly, has no set date.
Admittedly, I have been feeling low these past few weeks—I am waiting to be happy.
I am waiting for this virus to vanish so that life can be normal again.
I have resisted acknowledging that this is my situation now, because to me that means giving up and accepting that this will be my life for a long time; even writing it fills me with dread. I am unhappy now, so does that mean I just have to keep being unhappy?
I keep praying—to what or whoever is listening; I’m desperate at this point—for a change in my situation, when I have been unable to see that we are put in these situations to change ourselves.
I have always placed my happiness on a future event, possibility, or dream: whether this be the most perfect relationship; a job working with street children in Morocco; or a new life in France learning the romantic language whilst sipping wine in a picturesque vineyard.
I’m starting to see that these challenging moments are a journey I’m supposed to take to learn.
And now I am here, as the person I am, because of my experiences.
Life isn’t slipping away; every day is an opportunity, regardless of whether there’s a pandemic or not.
The unknown is a scary place but it is just that, something not known. We’re not meant to know what the future may bring at any point in our life.
The present moment is the only thing we have control over—only that very second—and the control we have is how we use that moment.
It’s hard, I know.
There’s this feeling of being trapped and helpless, our actions restricted by the chains this pandemic, person, or life has forced upon us. But remember that the chains are psychological, not physical. We can still move. We can still take action.
What we can do or how we do things may be limited, but choosing to do something is not—start that project idea you have been putting off, but don’t get caught up in the anxiety around how it should turn out. Just take the first step. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to a friend with a simple, “Hey, how are you?” If life is a bit too much, be kind to yourself and start counseling. Delve back into that one thing that always gave you pure joy as a kid; in my case, it was art.
Better yet, start even smaller. Are you feeling despair this minute? Write down two or three sentences that state the very things you wish were your reality now and repeat them daily.
This could be:
I choose to be happy.
I am in a loving, honest, and fulfilling relationship.
I am confident and brave enough to go for my dreams.
Do what you want—as much as you can; then accept the situation you are in and surrender to it. This may sound like giving up, but no, that’s not it—it means not resisting it.
Life is what it is right now. That’s not our fault, nor can we change it. The only thing we have control over is how we behave in this moment; only in the present can we do something.
Insecurity creeping in again? Don’t think about the future. Don’t think about tomorrow. Hell, don’t even think about anything beyond this moment.
Be in the now.