As we near the nine-month mark since COVID-19 took hold of what feels like every aspect of our daily activities, it’s beginning to feel like life as we once knew it is nothing more than a distant memory. For me, 2019 was one of the most turbulent years of my life. I had spent a good portion of it watching my mother fight a relentless battle with cancer and eventually losing in the end. It was earth-shattering to witness the person who had stood by me my entire life disappear before my very eyes. For the first time ever, I felt truly lost and alone. With 2020 on the horizon, I was starving for any sort of normalcy that could bring balance back into my life.
However, barely a few months into the new year, it seemed like 2020 had something entirely different in store for me. By March, I was out of a job, businesses were shutting down and the government was urging everyone to stay home and minimize their contact with others. This worldwide pandemic had taken what was supposed to be a year of self-recovery for me right under my feet. Once again, I was brought back to the very place I so desperately was trying to escape from, a place of solitude and the unknown. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and I spent every waking moment of my quarantine scrolling through social media and seeing friends turning their newly found free time into an opportunity to explore new interests and spend time with family. I turned into a tornado of self-pity, envious of those who seemed to be making the most of this experience.
Lucky for me, a friend of mine who had moved to the States to study had returned back to Vancouver to be closer to her family. Seeing the emotional turmoil I was in, she began to force me out of the house and we would take short walks around Trout Lake. Every day I would tell her about how I was feeling and one day she just simply told me, “It looks like the biggest barrier you are facing right now is yourself.” At that moment it felt like everything clicked, and I was hit with an overwhelming wave of self-awareness. I had spent most of 2019 and 2020 feeling sorry for myself and making excuses for why I couldn’t improve my life. For the first time in a very long time, I began to take responsibility for my own happiness.
I created a short bucket list of things I wanted to do during and after the pandemic. I had dreams of exploring BC and took on new hobbies like reading and learning to play the ukulele. I began chatting and seeing two of my closest friends from school who became my main source of unconditional love and support. I even downloaded Tinder and started chatting with a guy who would one day become my fiancé. These were all things I was able to accomplish simply by freeing myself of the chains of self-doubt and loathing.
Today I strive to be an active member of my community, taking on different volunteer roles and safely interacting with the people around me. At the beginning, COVID-19 felt like a curse preventing me from getting a normal life back. However, it took a harsh wake-up call to realize that although this pandemic does have its fair share of difficulties, the reason why I couldn’t live my life to the fullest wasn’t because of the virus, but because I chose to stagnate in a pool of despair. As we near the one-year mark since COVID-19 took hold of our lives, I have finally learned that although there are many things that are out of my control when it comes to this pandemic, I am responsible for how I chose to deal with them.