If 2020 were a living breathing person, I would pretty much describe it as someone who grumpily woke up on the wrong side of the bed, never got to drink its coffee, and went on to deal with one mishap after another. 

Recalling just a few months in and there was the eruption of the Taal Volcano, wildfires everywhere in Australia, and the shocking death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash. But even when those things happened, we were still kind of hopeful for things to turn out fine. Not until when COVID-19 becoming a pandemic that we started realizing how bad things are around the world.

Last month, like many of you, my workplace has shut down its operations for the safety of every single employee. Since then I have been staying at home in isolation with my family without any single idea when I’d return to my usual routine. 

When quarantine started, it felt somehow new to me even when I always considered myself a homebody. Knowing that my busy life outside of home abruptly took a pause just like that, made me confused and anxious. I would have trouble sleeping, finding myself awake in the wee hours of the morning despite keeping myself distracted—cleaned the house, worked out, finished some office deadlines, watched an hour-long episode of a Turkish series, and yet I still felt unproductive. 

I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was agitated for some reason. Was it because of the news I’ve seen or heard throughout the day? Was it the uncertainty of it all? Was it the worry I feel whenever my mother goes out every day facing patients in her clinic? That there is a probability of cases becoming worse than the day before? That months following all this we wouldn’t be seeing movies like we used to or having a good dinner, sitting side by side with our friends? It did take a toll on me that this would all be our new normal now—staying in and cautiously leaving the house to simply buy essential needs.

How strange that we just read about this in dystopian novels before but now, fiction meets reality. A reality that is both overwhelming, scary, and something that we slowly need to accept.

The number of COVID-19 cases around the world is evidently rising every day, debilitating bodies both young and old but on the other side of it, our mental health is carrying a heavier burden as well. 

Early on someone asked me on how to stay positive amidst all of this and that question reverberated to me since then as I didn’t exactly know how to answer it. I mean, how could you really stay positive when while I am writing this in the comfort of home with food on the table, unfortunately, it is not the same for everyone as many others are battling the virus head-on as front liners, there are those who are out of jobs having difficulty getting access to food, sanitation and worse of all, having no actual home to live in. What a saddening picture this has all been. It has truly added up to the collective worry and grief that we are all experiencing.

To rid of toxic positivity is the right question, really, and that is to probably lessen media exposure which includes fake news. If you want to keep yourself updated, make sure it’s from a credible news report; fake news spreads faster and heightens anxiety. 

You don’t really have to be rigidly productive when in isolation. Maybe this time calls to live life reflectively and slowly. Remember, your worth isn’t entirely measured by your productivity. 

Whether you’re spiritual or religious, anchor yourselves to your faith as it strengthens resilience. Send help to those who need it most. Big or small, being able to give and show kindness creates a mindful and healthy feeling for both giver and receiver because what I’ve learned since the beginning of all of this is that we do have the innate ability as humans to share resources and help in whatever means available in the best way we know-how. 

Our altruism in this unsettling time definitely shone at its brightest. Most of all, recognize your privilege and where you stand in this so you could reach out. After all, we coexist in this world to be there for each other.

The improbability still looms above us everyday but there’s just so much we could do as of the moment—staying home so the virus would stop latching on to a host. The waiting will be long for sure, but know that after all of this we’re certainly stronger, better, more mindful and aware of the little things we used to neglect. Before one knows it, we will we be out again, reuniting in celebration.

Alve Jane Aranton is a 21 year-old writer from Cagayan de Oro, PH. She is a lover of words, coffee and cats. Alve blogs her feelings at  She Is The Paper Back Writer.

Photo by Pearl Aton

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