By Cecilia Toro
Now, this is rich coming from someone like me as I’m the kind of person who has always been eager to distract myself from emotions (particularly, my anxiety and depression) and avoiding them at any and all costs. This usually manifested in me jumping into a relationship before I was even ready for it.
Looking back at this past behavior, my problem was that I used to really believe being single was a character flaw. By now I’ve realized that there’s more to learn from being by myself or by finding the right people to surround myself with than continuing with this kind of self-sabotage.
I’m confident you’ve heard some iteration of this before, and I’m here to tell you it’s painfully true: if you can’t care for yourself wholly and passionately, no one else can.
For example, when you’re so determined to avoid introspection and look for external validation, you risk not being able to set boundaries. These will always be subject to change if you don’t know or love yourself well enough.
(FYI: Not trying to pass judgments here – this is a struggle no matter how far you’ve come in your self-love journey!)
And, well, if isolation has taught me absolutely anything (though I don’t necessarily view a pandemic as a life lesson) it’s that you’re stuck with yourself whether you like it or not.
Even if you’re single.
Even if you’re in a relationship.
And, sadly perhaps thankfully, these are some conclusions some of us (myself included) have arrived at only recently.
So, where am I going with this?
Well, we’ve all had to endure a similar hardship this year. Isolation has been brutal and it’s certainly pushed many of us out of our comfort zones. We’ve arrived at tough realizations and have been forced to look closely at ourselves, whether we were ready for it or not. And, it’s normal to want to hit a massive ‘avoid’ button as opposed to confronting the situation at hand.
I find that relationships or romantic closeness and intimacy have been the easiest ‘avoid buttons’ this time around because we’ve all been feeling so alone.
My advice? Don’t rush into anything you’re not sure about.
Of course, this includes a lot of things, not just relationships. But, ultimately, you’re the expert on what you need, right? However this manifests for you, learn to listen to yourself, react to your surroundings, stay safe, and look for any and all silver linings that come with loving yourself fully.
Because any little bit of good right now is still so, so good.
From me to you, here are some words of encouragement for this upcoming lockdown season.
1. Choose yourself over and over again, no matter how that looks.
Elizabeth Flock – a writer for the Atlantic – suggests keeping busy even with simple tasks:
2. Community is important! Please reach out to loved ones when you feel you’re ready.
Reaching out can help you get through this period of isolation day by day and hopefully make you feel less alone. Your friends and family are very likely feeling the exact same thing you are and talking through your feelings is often a great way to feel listened to and comforted. Plus, it’s always nice to check in with yourself and those you love to create a deeper sense of belonging.
3. This has been said before and I’m gonna say it again: there is no need to be productive.
At all. Just no. You get to rest! You get to do nothing!
Listen to your body and your mind, work with them. As well, you can take some time to really connect with yourself. Learning about the benefits of gratitude, for example, is one excellent way of nurturing yourself when you feel like that’s all you can do, and our writer Claudia Cole explains just why that is.
I’m sure we’ve all had to push through uncomfortable realities to get to where we are now. That’s redemptive enough, I hope, and I trust we’re all better after weathering out some storms.
And I hope this will be an encouraging read, where you might find that even bad moments can be flipped on their heads and turned into something rather nice.