(A peaceful early morning taken in London. Last week of February, 2020)
"What does it even mean?" Not gonna lie, I had to google it when I first saw that coronavirus was officially a pandemic on the news. The last one we had was the H1N1 "swine flu" in 2009 -- I still remember what it was like in those days when I was in Vietnam, but was it the same? Pretty sure it was not, we still had to go to school (which I was so disappointed at the time), versus now almost everything is shut down on a global scale, the kids study online, the adults work from home. Me included... Ha! I guess I belong to the "adult" world in this pandemic so that's also new. But yeah, that word was never in my English dictionary.
The first week of quarantine was... interesting. My emotions swung from "Yessss... chill time!" to "please don't tell me I have to worry about ONE MORE THING because the world is going crazy and my life is in chaos and I'm alone and I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS!" in just a few days. Three days to be exact. I swear I'm not bipolar.
I remember saying goodbye to my brother when he left to go back to Vietnam last week. Tears ran down my face when I came back to my room, alone, and my heart felt so heavy as if it was wartime again like in my grandparents' generation watching their son leaving to go fight for his country (!) Well, it is technically a war, isn't it? Except that we are all in this war together, and we fight together! That sounds pretty heartwarming, to be honest.
Back to "not being bipolar"... I had a good one hour staring outside of my apartment's window that day with all of these WHY questions spinning in my head when my never-ending-to-do list was staring back at me as if I was high. Why am I making it even harder for myself during this time by letting things that are out of my control control me again? Why do I worry so much about things that don't matter? Why am I not feeling OK, and is it even OK to feel not OK when I have to be even more OK than ever because I'm all by myself now and being OK is the only option to survive?
I disagree with the idea that everyone needs to learn how to be alone. There have been lots of posts and books about it, and it's the perfect time to learn how to because of social distancing (?) I believe we humans are not created to be alone, and I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason -- but this is not the reason. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all mastered "being alone" so well that we needed no one else in our life but ourselves!? I believe the pandemic we are going through doesn't happen to teach us how to be alone; rather, it's teaching us how to feel complete from within, and care about things that are bigger than ourselves while living together in a codependent society.
Now we know what it feels like for people from the other side of the world when they had to shut down on their New Year's Eve, because we couldn't go out and get drunk on our St. Patrick's Day either, or why hungry poor people steal food when we fight each other over toilet papers (seriously it's not even funny, guys; there are so many other alternative options including jumping in the shower).
If anything, 7 days of quarantine at home has taught me not only to feel more complete but also to be more complete. And what I've learned over the last week of social distancing is perhaps more than what I learned over an average 7-year period in my life.
More than ever, I've slowly but surely come to a realization on what and who is truly important to me, now that the noises are filtered out. I've got to facetime with my family every day since I started working from home, which has been amazing. I have a small circle of super close friends that I've spent hours talking with each time we call each other. I've also made time to dedicate myself to doing what makes me feel truly fulfilled -- blogging again is one of them :P Oh, and I've made time for myself too, which is also important!
I've learned that it's OK when you can't do it all (who can say that they do it all anyway!?) Instead of trying to do it all, I'm a massive believer in setting up priorities and focusing on that, then all the other things on your wishlist will follow through one step at a time. Quality over quantity, always.
I've always been a proud Vietnamese, but learning about how the pandemic is handled in Vietnam makes me become even prouder. It is probably one of the "safest" places to be in now during this time *knock on wood*, because the government takes actions quickly to ensure necessities are available to all residents from big cities to small villages (masks, hand sanitizers, food, etc.), control the situation to minimize spread (even international students like my brother will have to spend 14 days in quarantine camp after arriving at the custom border and get tested before going back to their family), and prohibit any acts of discrimination against foreign tourists while providing full support to protect their safety. But more than that, I was so touched to see our people reminding each other about safety practices regularly and making sure they themselves also follow through with these practices, not only for their own sake but also for their family and their community.
Oh and, fun fact. If you know me, you probably won't believe me when I say this... but I've learned to love working out now! I never felt that way before (obviously), and if I worked out it was more because of the pressures of being... "in the public eye" (lol). But no one even sees me now so who cares!? Being social distancing makes me realize that when I still work out, take good care of my skin, eat weee...(..eeell...trying to!), I actually do it for myself, because I love myself, and because it makes me feel goooooood! But yes, I'm typing this out while sucking in the pain from working out because my body's not used to this :(
I've also learned to (slowly) ditch perfection -- being a perfectionist has served me both good and bad in many ways -- but the greatest thing coming out of this change is that I've learned to just do it, versus spending too much time thinking about something I've always wanted to do but never felt like it was "perfect" enough to be worth pursuing. This blog is also kinda spontaneous too to be fair... oops!
To some of us, it may feel like 'I can't do anything right now' kinda mood or the world is coming to an end (remember 2012?); while to some others, it may feel like a new beginning is just about to form into something greater, brighter, stronger, deeper, and life will start taking flight again but on a much more meaningful level than it's ever been before.
That's how I feel now. What about you?
By the way, if you know anyone who lives by themselves or doesn't have a family during this time, I would check on them to see how they're holding up there. It's nice to be reminded that we're not fighting this war alone, and not that we should just know how to be alone. We got each other!
You take care of yourself, too ;)