Every week in the month of October, I will be sharing reflections on the Very Scary Things I’ve had to face in 2020 — emotionally, physically, spiritually. This is the fourth and final installment. For the previous one, read here.
Change is scary. Many of us understand that life is a compilation of changes, big and small, but on the micro levels in which we experience it, it feels shaky and uncertain. Months into a pandemic in a country hellbent on plunging itself into ruin, we may very well be the most uncertain any of us have ever felt. About life, about our futures, about our dreams and goals. Life is always sure to throw us curveballs; yet, it feels more than usual that our futures rest on the shoulders of careless people — whether they are passing executive orders in the White House, or refusing to wear a mask in your neighborhood.
I am a routine-reliant Virgo, comfortable in the predictability of my weekly schedules. Before the pandemic, I’d say I had a pretty firm grip on my responsibilities and emotions. Now, with no job to wake up to or set hours of required productivity, I feel sallow. When scrolling social media feels like a gamble on seeing something anxiety-inducing all day, every day, I no longer feel as in control of my emotions as I used to. The nature of COVID and of this administration is that of rapid change. One day, I may be able to relax about COVID danger, and the next I may be paralyzed in a puddle of tears. One day, I may be able to avoid political news and feel at ease, and the next I’m stressing about the fallout from another abuse of power. The kinds of changes we’ve collectively faced this year — to our lifestyles, our emotions, and general outlooks on life — are so numerous that it makes sense for many of us to spiral in response. If you are feeling shame for the way you’re handling five years’ worth of changes in one year, please let me assure you that your feelings are valid.
We’ve had to change nearly every facet of the way we interact with the world and our peers. That is hard, and it is dreadful to think about how long we may have to do it for. I believe strongly that 2020 is the year that taught us we were never meant to be alone. We need each other; it is a truth that was hard to see when we took being with each other for granted.
In the funhouse mirrors of horrors we’ve been trapped in this year, I also believe our lives have been put in greater perspective. I’ve come to realize a multitude of things about myself in quarantine that were just not possible to fathom in the Before Times. There have been so many beautiful emotional breakthroughs for me, and I’m sure for you reading this as well. I know for certain that I both love the city I live in and that I still want to move West; I figured out that I want to explore dance as hobby and healing when it is safe to take in-person classes, and more generally that movement is medicine for me; I found an appreciation for reading that I’d begun to explore shortly before the pandemic. In short, I found the changes I want to make in my life and, where possible, have begun to implement them. Often times, harrowing times can bring transformative changes. The phoenix did rise from the ashes, after all.
So the next time you are despairing about what changes you’ll have to adjust to next, remember that your feelings are valid. I’m so sorry that the world is less than compassionate right now; you deserve more. When you’re just about done crying, screaming, what have you — get up, put the blanket down. And remember that you are a phoenix. Your transformation from this adversity is a welcome change for your evolution. Embrace whatever new information you find about yourself, and fly, the best way you know how.