You, too? I needed this time to slow down, also. It’s definitely not easy to navigate our ‘new normal’ where no one in the U.S., who is alive today, has ever experienced a severe pandemic. The last one was in 1918 with the influenza pandemic. Our entire world around us has slowed down in every manner, and some serious discussions within our inner circles or neighbors need to be had. It’s now six months since WHO declared COVID-19 is indeed a pandemic, and a national emergency was declared.
Six months into a pandemic and going strong with quarantining & social distancing
In other words, we’ve had six crucial months to get our shit together. First, trying to identify what is even going on. Second, trying to figure out how to alter our everyday lives because it’s been impacted from the pandemic. While doing all this we have to stay safe by practicing social distancing and not go insane.
In the first few months, I was constantly on my phone… scouring the internet and social media on any piece of news I could get my hands on to understand even a little bit of what was happening in our world, and what does that mean for me and my family. It. Drove. Me. Insane….. Literally.
I would have panic attacks and severe separation anxiety from my phone because literally every hour, there was something new ‘discovered’ on Twitter that the mainstream news outlets weren’t even able to catch up on… let alone trying to figure out which news was real vs. fake, and unbiased vs. biased.
The anxiety and overwhelmingness about our local/state/country’s leaders and their everchanging decisions, lack of transparency, and distortion of media are downright crazy. Anyone reading this who thinks they are 100% mentally in good shape is either a billionaire or a millionaire. This pandemic alone has affected every average person in more ways than one, and we’ve learned to adapt and be a bit more empathic with our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
Being open about how the pandemic affects you is not a sign of weakness, its the act of accepting reality and the new normal
Whether you are a parent who is scared af about sending your kids to school, or the student who is worried af to wake up and go to school, the pandemic has affected you in more ways than one. To add onto that, double the anxiety when you have to get tested for COVID and the results take forever to receive. Or you are a professional getting less sleep, binging more content/entertainment to release some stress from seeing other content that has a negative impact on you, or simply not feeling like doing ANYTHING because ANYTHING is overwhelming on top of all the news or confusion of information overwhelming your mind, body, and soul.
Self-care is a thing, and it includes reflecting and confronting the uncomfortable in your head
Reflecting on the last six months of this pandemic, I am grateful I have yet to contract COVID-19, but at the same time, I am also thankful that the world has slowed down a bit. To be super frank, I think I really needed this time to heal, restart, and understand who I am as a person.
Turning 30 years old has been interesting, but more than ever, have I ever felt more strongly about what I like, dislike, want, and not want. In my teens, I was running around aimlessly, not fully processing everything that was happening around me.
Like everyone, my today is rooted from somewhere in the past
In my 20s, I was hustling like mad in the advertising industry, building and leaving my life in Sydney, Australia, and recovering from unfortunate personal situations. So, naturally, I needed to take a step back to reflect and heal before I can step forward.
In the past 29 years, I felt like I had to run… all, the, freaking, time. Whether that means accomplishing my studies, or getting a white-collar job, or climbing the ladder so I can pay off my student loans, or running from the toxicity of people or situations.
In January, I felt that this year, 2020, is my year. The year I wake up. The year I truly understand who I am as a person, without any influence from others. To unlearn everything I thought was ok, and ask myself if it is really ok. To truly understand what I want to do in my next chapter —- what all my skill sets can do for me and for the world, where I want to be in life, what does “content” mean for me, and to face myself in a mirror and be able to 100% agree that I’m living my best life…
Yep, this is a real pandemic y’all
And then, COVID-19 walked in. Existing plans fell through, had to adapt in life, and if anything, it forced me to double down on my new path.
I had some real conversations with myself about COVID-19 and death. Like, if I were to pass away from COVID-19, or some freak accident were to happen, would I be content with my life with no regrets, or would I be like damnit, it’s not the time yet, nooooo! I need to do x, y, and z!
And what a surprise, it was the latter. There is SO much of what I want to do in life, but I didn’t know where to begin because I’ve always worked for other people, never for myself. And what I mean by that is:
- I got a couple of scholarships, like studying abroad in Japan during high school, so it would diversify my experience and be a good factor during college applications
- I chose a recognized university instead of a less expensive one because that’s what society told me to do to “be successful”
- I co-founded a company in the past with my ex to help increase overall take-home money and for his career
- I hit the 6 figure salary mark, and my parents still wanted more from me (it wasn’t enough compared to my sisters’ accomplishments)
… things like that.
So where did I even begin with this new chapter?
I first had to understand some basic stuff about myself. I learned last year via doing my ikigai 生き甲斐 (literal Japanese translation: the reason for being) what I like, want to do, how I’d be able to give back to the world, and what I can get paid for. By understanding these four facets of the ikigai, I surprisingly stumbled upon what made me really happy during my years as a teenager.
When I was a teenager and even today at 30 years old, I love Korean dramas, K-pop, Korean culture, traveling to new countries, eating delicious food, gaming, hiking, singing, horseback riding, and shopping.
Confronting with my ikigai
After identifying with my ikigai (the reason for being) and having several “aha” moments, the next step was to confront myself.
Is this what you really like, or was it because my best friend loved it? Did I develop these interests because a person in the past, and if so, do I still hold it as a part of me because I actually really like that hobby? Are these interests usually done for joy or to escape from reality a bit? Is there something I wanted to write down, but didn’t, because I told myself “naww, that ain’t you”?
Healing all the past wounds to move forward in life
Ok, this part was REALLY HARD. And this is different for EVERYONE. We are all so unique in our experiences, environment at home/work, people who we surround ourselves with different/similar perspectives, and the content we soak in our choosing that a one-fit-all solution won’t work.
For me, this is what I have been doing to date to help me overcome my obstacles:
- Understand my feelings such as allowing myself to cry, talk about depression, telling others when I’m feeling anxious
- Understand what change means in my life, love life, society, myself, perspectives, choices, and my environment
- Understand truly what self-love is by taking care of myself, putting myself first, physical self-love, mental self-love, celebrating all the wins – big and small, challenging myself, and embracing my individuality
- Being open-minded to growth at 30 by stepping out of my comfort zone, accepting when I am wrong, disagreeing with others or solidifying my stance that reflect my values, learning new things, talking about things that make me uncomfortable, and understanding another perspective
Allow yourself to start fresh
By revisiting and starting these basic fundamental elements of living (list below) and my ikigai, I have understood myself on a whole new level.
Permitting yourself to assess your life by taking the actual time to work on yourself is an investment on its own. I gave myself permission to take this time to slow down and focus on self-care and what I want to do in my life.
What’s holding you back? Start here with the ikigai exercise during your next me-time session!