How the Pandemic Changed the Direction of my Life

As we are slowly approaching eight months of living in a pandemic, I could not help but lie awake the other night for over 2 hours thinking about just how much has changed in my life during these eight months.

The beginning of this pandemic brought a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, which forced me to rethink a lot of my habits. From filtering out the news I watched or read, to how I interacted with people or even just kept myself sane, I am sure you and I both have had to adapt in so many ways.

I find myself at a standstill because one chapter of my life is quickly coming to a close and I was not ready for it before this pandemic, but now I am truly terrified of it ending. In just two and a half months, I will graduate from university with my bachelor’s degree in political science.

Why am I so scared to graduate?

Well, for one thing, I don’t know who I am without school and by taking that part of my life away, I feel as if I am left with an empty shell and a meaningless life. I have built my entire life around grades, assignments and just academics in general because I was convinced that it would guarantee me a stable and easy future.

But instead, I am stuck in a pandemic with little to no idea of what comes next. Over the years, I have learned how to embrace the blank canvas that might be presented to us, but this one seems too large that even the thought of it becomes overwhelming.

My entire life lies ahead of me, and not having even a smidge of a plan seems reckless and dumb of me. What I try to remind myself, with a heavy dose of compassion, is that what comes next is not a death sentence – it is merely a new beginning, a new chapter. And I should remember how fortunate I am that to even get a blank slate.

I think the pandemic reminded a lot of us or is continuously reminding us, that we cannot plan everything. No matter who you are, something about your life was upended overnight and there was nothing we could do about it.

This pandemic has forced me to rethink the entire direction of my life. But it has also taught me that what we plan is not necessarily what will happen to us. We can spend our entire life planning for what comes next, but there are so many things out of our control that can deter the path we have so carefully curated for ourselves. I am also learning that this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just something that happens.

Even though the pandemic has led me to a dead-end, I think it also presented me with a new option – one that was never fully visible to me before. Things in life have a way of changing the direction we are heading in, and maybe this pandemic did just that for me. If it has done the same for you, then please remember that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out. Hold on tight and have a bit of faith.

The Unknown and my Comfort Zone

Recently, or more like for the past few year’s I have been wondering why some people can just take a leap or jump the gun if you will, and others, like me, can’t so much as put a step forward in the direction we want our lives to go in.

The relationship I have with the unknown is a strange one – its not simple, but I also over complicate it. There was a point in time where the unknown terrified me, I would be paralyzed with fear just thinking about it. But then, there came a time where the unknown for once was relieving. I did not have to plan, make a decision or move forward. But the problem I am facing now is that I have made myself too comfortable in the unknown.

I have a knack for adapting to situations. Its not that I love change, but I can install myself in different situations or adapt to them rather quickly. Which sounds great on a job resume but not so great when it comes to your actual life.

You see, the problem is that I have made myself a little too comfortable in this unknown. I quite enjoy it. But what I have come to realize is that I have most likely overstayed my welcome, and this thought keeps creeping into my brain no matter how much I try to avoid it.

I have reached a point where I feel stuck, like I didn’t actually make use of the unknown and now I am being punished with thoughts of self-doubt and high levels of anxiety. Am I the only one who has ever felt this? Perhaps.

But being stuck in a situation is something every single person faces. Its one of those universal experiences that we all share without actually realizing that we do.

I hate this feeling of being stuck – it quite literally drives me crazy but at the same time, this is the card I have been dealt. It is not the worse card, but its not a fun one either.

I wish I had a solution for you all, but in truth I feel slightly demoralized by this unknown. What I have come to learn is that there are many seasons in our lives, and perhaps this is one of them. Perhaps we are in a season of unknown, being stuck and not feeling our best. Its okay to accept this feeling and feel it for a bit, that’s what I will be doing if you want to join me.

The Journey of Belonging

From a young age, I knew that I did not fit in. I did, however, do a lot of things to fit in. I jumped on the bandwagon far too many times, obsessed over the current celebrity trend even if I didn’t like them, I begged my parents for the trendy clothes and made myself small so I can fit in. Acting like someone else and trying so badly to fit, backfired.


From a young age, I did not let myself be who I was because I thought that no one would like me – I was young and now I see that there are more nuances to it than that, but at the very core of it all I was desperate to fit in and to feel like I belonged. This mostly stemmed from a need to be seen, to be accepted and to be understood. All things I was not doing for myself, so naturally I went out into the world to find people who could see me, accept me, and understand me. Eventually, I reached a point where I still was not fitting in or feeling like I belonged anywhere or with any group of people. Even with the moments that I felt like I “belonged”, there was still a part of me that felt missing or empty.


The journey we go on to fit in or find out where we belong is not just about finding our place in the world. Nor is it about finding a purpose bigger than ourselves or joining a community, those components of our lives are tied to this but for today we are just going to put them aside. The journey of belonging or fitting in is about finding your path to accepting yourself. The journey we embark on makes us think that we need to go out and find who we are in other people or places. We never draw attention to the real truth which is, that finding who we are and where we belong starts with accepting ourselves as we are.


We go on with our lives trying to pretend we can find pieces of ourselves in different places or with different people. I did this for a long time, but there came a point where the communities I had fit into had gone, ended, or transformed into something or someplace I no longer belonged or fit into. What was I left with then? In the moments where I have had no one but myself and I was not fitting in or belonging to anything, I kind of felt relieved. I felt relieved that for a second, I didn’t have to compartmentalize who I was to fit in with the different groups and communities I had joined. I was in a situation where I could just be me, and nothing was expected from me other than just being myself.

We all want to fit in and belong somewhere, but what’s screaming out at us is not the need to belong, it’s the desire or the want for us to be accepted because we have not accepted ourselves for who we are. It’s a desire to be seen, wanted and appreciated because we have never let ourselves be that source of fulfillment, we always think that the acceptance we crave needs to come from outside sources.

When I sat down with myself and honestly evaluated what was wrong with my life, I reached the same conclusion as I had the previous times. I had never accepted who I was.

I realized that what I wanted from this journey of belonging and fitting in was to be accepted for who I was by others, but that is not how you satisfy that need to be seen, heard or understood. The only way we can give attention to that part of our life is by leaning into ourselves and understanding why we don’t see ourselves and why we can’t accept ourselves. If you feel like you have been searching for somewhere to go or be and have had no luck in the process, maybe its time for you to take a look at what is driving your journey to belong and fit in.

Decide

Decide

The other morning, I looked at my vision board and was a bit shocked to see what was on it. I left it in its place even when the world went to shit because I was too lazy to get rid of it – I’m glad I did. My vision board was meant to be a place to visualize my goals, but I unknowingly turned it into a vision of who I wanted to become.

That morning, half-asleep and dreading the day I ahead I got up and went to look at my vision board closely. Something in me jumped a bit and I felt my eyes get misty. I had not realized what was truly in the vision board. This entire situation had made me forget who I wanted to be. Yes, my goals and plans were thrown out the window just like everyone else. But everyday, I wake up and I have a choice. I can choose to be the person I envisioned myself becoming on that vision board or I can pretend that becoming that version of myself died with the rest of my goals a few months ago.

Seeing as how you are reading this, I choose the former. I looked at my vision board and decided that if I wanted to become that person my heart longed for me to be, then I had to make some decisions. I decided to get up, change from my pj’s into actual clothes (not my second set of pj’s), put my hair in a bun and write this blog post. If I am being honest it had taken me all day to write this, and many hours staring at a blank page. But what matters most is that I decided to get up and do something that would make be who I wanted to be.

Deciding is hard, but we make decisions based on fear, rejection, and hatred all the time. So why not make a decision that will benefit you? Trust me, it takes only one small decision to change your entire day. Make the decision to get up and go for a walk (if permitted), cook yourself a healthy breakfast, read for a bit, wake up later, etc.

Start making decisions that will benefit you, its hard and difficult but even the smallest positive decision can change your entire day and eventually your entire life.

Leadership

The concept or idea of what it means to be a leader has developed in a strange way. When we talk about leadership in a generalized way, we almost forget that the people we consider leaders are human. We forget that the way they present themselves to the public might not be who they are, but this has somehow led to a stereotypical idea of what a leader should be. If I may say so, this idea we have created about what a leader should be is contradictory, cold and distant. Stereotypically speaking, a leader is someone outspoken, assertive, intelligent and calculative. That’s it. Of course, there are many more adjectives to describe a leader, but they mostly fall into this category that makes the person seem less human. How on earth did we create this idea of a leader? Why did we create this idea of a leader?

I have been told time and time again that certain qualities that I have need to be toned down. If I want to be a leader, I need to be more calculative. I need to be more assertive, but not bossy because people don’t like a bossy woman. I need to stop letting my emotions get in the way of my decisions, even though I don’t consider myself a very emotional person. I have been told that to be a leader I need to give up who I am and enter into this mould that has been created where there is only one way to be a leader. 

Recently I took a leadership test and one of the leadership styles was empathy. For my entire life, everyone has told me that if I am too empathetic, or if I care too much and can’t approach situations with the appropriate amount of distance and in an analytical way, then I should just stop trying to do anything. Because it seemed that the only way to be a leader was to be objective, calculative and analytical – when I am none of that in real life, they are in no way my strong suits. No one ever encouraged me to take my qualities and my empathy and use it for good.

When my leadership style result was empathy, I was taken aback. Because for my entire life I have been told that that quality in me was never going to get me far and that I could never lead. Leading with your heart isn’t a bad thing, and it should be never be understood as such. There are times where we need our minds to think predominantly but leading with your heart is not a weakness. The ability to feel the pain and the suffering and understand the motives behind why people do things is a gift that the world needs more of.

What I have come to learn is that leadership isn’t about how well you can check off the boxes of a predetermined idea that has been cemented in our brains by society. Leadership is about leading as you are, with what you got and being vulnerable and having courage while doing so. I highly suggest you check out Brenee Brown for more information on leadership.

The strongest type of leader you can be is when you are leading with who you are, and not who you think you should be. Lead with your strengths, but also with your weaknesses. Lead with your heart and your emotions, but also your brain. Lead with who you are at your core and the impact you will have on others, and the examples you will set for those around you will be life changing for your community and the world.   If you need some examples or inspiration turn to your local community organizations, your schoolteachers, your bosses, managers, parents, friends, and so many others! Turn to the people who are on the ground every day making sure that people are encouraged, that they are cared for and that they will excel in their individual lives. Those are the leaders we need more of in the world, not the ones who perpetuate this idea that you need to be a certain way to be a leader.

Self-Love

Why am I so obsessed with love when I have never been in love?

I’ve never experienced love in its romantic form. Or perhaps because the closest I’ve ever come to love is the endless stream of rom coms I indulge myself with. Except, here’s the thing, I don’t believe in anything the rom coms say because its never happened. If I lived according to a rom coms idea of what love is then I am short of a childhood crush turned into pre-adolescent relationship, a cute first love that sticks with me forever and an epic love story that ends horribly but ultimately helps me find myself. I have never experienced any of those things. So why am I still obsessed with the idea of love? Its not that I’m necessarily waiting here for my perfect person to pop up and sweep me off my feet, because as we have established – that will never happen.

I think were so obsessed with love because in all of us, no matter where or who we are we all have felt it. Whether that be in a romantic relationship, with friends, family, brief moments, or jus anything. As much as we divide ourselves, we can’t separate the fact that human beings were made to love. We love because its inherent in us – its in our genes, our instincts, our way of existing, our way of surviving this horrible world. Love is always there and has always been there. Through the worse of anything in our lives, what keeps us going? Love.

I think a part of me acknowledges how inherent and essential love is to the human experience. We all want to be loved, to be seen and to give love. But another part of me, this part of me created by society that wants someone to just see me. I want someone to know me better than myself. I want someone to feel butterflies even after they see me for the millionth time. I want someone to go through this shit hell of a life. I want someone to just get me and know how I am, and never ever try to change me. What I have come to discover is I want all these things because I never understood that the only person who can fulfill those needs for me, is me.

There’s a part of me that wants to be seen by myself. I want to get excited by my own mind, ideas and passions. I want to find my inner strength and lean on it to get myself through this shit life. I want to accept myself for who I am and not pick apart everything about myself. What we seek in others is really what we seek in ourselves. We are so obsessed with the idea of love because we haven’t figured out how to give it to ourselves. As much as the concept of self-love is something I preach, its not something I act on.

The love I have been searching for isn’t supposed to come from other people – its supposed to come from me. I am meant to love who I am. I am meant to see who I am and stand up for her. I am meant to thrive and to be happy with who I am. I am meant to accept who I am. Self-love isn’t about candles and the face masks, although I love those things, but they aren’t self-love.

Self-love is working through all the shit that we have distracted ourselves from facing. Self-love is accepting the body we have and admiring what it can do for us. Self- love is stepping into the best version of ourselves for our own sake. Self-love is accepting our quirks, our aches, our truths and our past. Self-love is accepting where we are but actively working to get where we want to go, not where society thinks we should go.

We are obsessed with the idea of love because we have never given ourselves the chance to love ourselves. We have never taken the time to practice self-love and to truly learn what it means to love who we are. Self-love will look differently for everyone, but I think it’s time we start loving who we are and start filling in those gaps that truthfully will never get filled by another person. Its time for that to change – here’s to a lifetime of self-love.