• Emily N. King

Self-Love in the Time of Corona

It's been a while, hasn't it? Have you missed the jab of my quick wit, my questionable takes on pop culture, and my extreme defensiveness of the Oxford comma? Never fear, my friends and beloved clients--I am slowly but surely finding the will to reclaim my self-anointed throne of writerdom.

I would ask what's new with you all, but I fear I already know the answer--you've developed an interest in birdwatching. Well, join the club. Quarantine has had a strange impact on all of us, whether it's the sudden, rabid desire to bake bread, the burgeoning need to start a side hustle (lest we don't spend every waking moment finding ways to monetize our hobbies), or finally getting around to washing the same pair of sweatpants you've been sleeping in for a week.

I will admit, the government-issued mandate to stay at home as much as possible didn't change my life much. I work from home, and my interests don't really fall into the realm of bar-hopping and losing myself inside of a concert venue. I prefer the company of a good book, my Nintendo Switch, and the comforting sizzle of stir-fried udon on the stove.

Even so, I missed the sound of my friends' laughter, and phone calls didn't quite satisfy my longing to spend time with them. Whether it was layoffs, the sudden switch to remote working, or even straight up leaving one's place of employment out of concern for one's health, we all found ourselves stuck at home, wondering how exactly we were meant to pass the time.

At first, I joked that I missed being forced to stay home and couldn't wait until I could choose to do so of my own accord, but those jokes quickly lost their luster as I realized that I truly did miss the ability to come and go at will, whether it was simply getting a cup of coffee or hitting up my favorite book store.

As March faded into April and April faded into May (coupled with the cancellation of my favorite convention, RIP Anime Central), those feelings of "missing out" quickly faded into feelings of self-loathing. The thoughts swimming around in my head were less about how much I missed my normal life to "am I wasting my time?" "Should I be doing more?" "What if I accomplish nothing this year?"

Should I be productive because I may never have this much free time again, or should I relax because I may never have this much free time again?

In truth, I'm still wrestling with these feelings of inadequacy, but something I often forget is what a serious emotional and mental toll this year has been. It may be difficult to forgive yourself this year for a perceived lack of accomplishment; between the pandemic, natural disasters, arguing with your grandparents about social justice issues, and an economic recession, I think it's fair to say that just surviving this year alone is an achievement worthy of celebration.

Don't worry about producing a side hustle; worry about producing forgiveness. Worry about your health and the health of those around you. Worry about what you can do to love yourself better. And for goodness' sake, wear your mask.

In the words of L.M. Montgomery, "That is one good thing about this world...there are always sure to be more springs."

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