(I know I had delayed acknowledging my parents’ statement that there’s something to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic... but this is what I’ve come up with--other than learning to clean my own room.)
If there’s one thing I learned in self-isolation... It would probably be the importance of kindness. Before anything, kindness should begin with yourself. Being alone with your thoughts can be a springboard of paranoia and anxiety. Distraction through succumbing to your darkest vices seems much more tempting - because who will notice anyway?
Actually, some people who understand your worth would. Actually, you may never even know. This is why knowing your worth, enough to take care of yourself in such times of uncertainty and loss, should be something intrinsic. Hence, your worth is not validated by others, especially those who don’t matter.
Furthermore, such kindness should be extended to others. Life is really not meant to be spent alone or lived only for yourself. Pray for and support the frontliners: the doctors, the nurses, the soldiers, your local grocery shop workers who expose themselves to the risk of COVID-19 to contribute to society and to work to provide for their own families. Check on your friends because they’ll never ask you for emotional support. Being in self-isolation, you wouldn’t really know how others are actually coping. Some are fighting for their lives. Some are resting. Some are grieving for loved ones. Some are frustrated being stuck with loved ones. Some are lost in depression. Some are simply bored. I found myself lost in depression. I felt like I lost my sense of purpose.
Sure, I tried to overcome this with self-care, exercise, cleaning my room and accomplishing my university assignments. And yet, I still felt like I had no meaning. I felt like I lost so much that I was looking forward to due to the lockdowns.
Honestly, I just wanted to go to school. I wanted to have a drink al fresco in town with my friends. I wanted to see my parents for my birthday. It just took a while before I realised that other people have probably lost more, including their lives.
When I started to find my inner peace, that’s when I wanted to extend this peace to others in whatever way I possibly could. I knew I had a birthday budget to buy whatever I wanted, but the lockdown reminded me of the most relevant aspects of life somehow. And so, I asked my parents if my birthday budget could be donated to community support programmes which they gladly helped me with.
When I started to find my inner peace, that’s when I began to reach out to my friends again as there was a time when I had delayed replying to their messages. We texted and called more often to check on each other. I tried to write more songs about those dear to me as well as film more YouTube videos for my friends and other viewers with similar interests as me as a form of entertainment and escapism. I also started to make TikToks and memes in hopes of making people laugh.
Somehow, the idea of making someone smile when I couldn’t (that is, consistently smile myself) made me happier. Little by little, I’m personally finding meaning in life again. I just needed to be kinder to myself to support my own physical and emotional stability, to be kinder to the people who support me, and to be kinder to the people who need support the most in these trying times. “If you could be anything, be kind.”