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Despite knowing how terribly cliché this sounds, I firmly believe that the events of the past year can be considered a pivoting point in my life.
Being confined to the four walls of my house was, to put it mildly, suboptimal. However, it has forced me to become more resourceful in the way I deal with my mental health, my terrible habit of overthinking, taking trips down the rabbit hole of my insecurities, and even with how I maintained my relationships.
I learned to live a slower life, how to put more energy into sustaining my connections with my loved ones, and how to stop beating myself up for things that were outside of my control.
I learned that I am more complicated than I could ever put into words, and so is everyone else.
I learned to breathe deeper and to accept the current of life as it comes and goes. I learned to appreciate the sun, to be softer, to be more grounded. I learned to see the beauty in these intricacies of life.
Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the most important lessons that isolation has taught me:
1. Closure doesn’t always require another person.
“Perhaps you two should meet up in order to get closure,” was a sentence I heard more often than not in my circle of friends. Their advice, of course, always came from a place of caring and good intentions. However, the idea that my own peace of mind depended on someone other than myself, weighed heavy on my overthinking brain.
Being locked inside for months forced me to come to terms with the fact that I might not see the person in question anytime soon, if ever. Realizing and accepting that the only certainty I truly have is myself was freeing; I alone had the power to forgive myself for past mistakes, and am responsible for learning, growing, and becoming a better person. I did not need anyone else’s permission to move on.
In a very Wizard of Oz-esque way, I realized that I had the power to choose how I dealt with things within me all along.
2. Loneliness and solitude are not the same.
This goes without saying, but in order to truly be comfortable and genuine around others, you need to first be comfortable with yourself. I have always considered myself an introverted person and took pride in the fact that I did not need constant company in order to be happy. I enjoy and cherish, and oftentimes prefer, my alone time. But having the option of seeing my friends taken away from me, pushed me into unfamiliar territory. Although it took me a while to identify the emotion, I realized that I was feeling truly lonely.
I had to teach myself that it was important to reach out to people. Needing human interaction is normal and healthy, and I felt its absence acutely during this past year. As someone who is comfortable being by myself (arguably, perhaps too comfortable), I now understand that I still have to make space for others, in order for my occasional and pleasant solitude not to slip into loneliness and withdrawal.
Sometimes it’s nice to feel the touch of another human being on your skin.
3. The world in its tiniest details is beautiful and wonderful.
I never noticed how tall the trees are, how the light shines through the branches. I never took a moment to look at the spring flowers or notice how the autumn leaves fold under my sneakers on my morning runs. It’s slightly embarrassing that it took me 25 years to look at the world. It took me this long to accept that summer comes with bugs and that I can still enjoy being outside in the winter, provided I dressed accordingly.
Being stuck inside forced me to really enjoy each moment I got to spend outside. I noticed the details: I enjoyed what I would usually find annoying and inconvenient (bugs in the summer). I learned to appreciate the crispness of winter air; how clean the snow made my neighbourhood streets. I looked forward to the autumnal changing colours, with its rainfalls and rare sunshine.
I took each season for what it is: essential and inescapably beautiful.