When this quarantine started, I promised I’d use this time to focus on myself. I was very proud too, that I’d decided to take a productive approach to the situation. “Look at me,” I thought, “there is a world crisis going on, and I’ve decided to take it as an opportunity for self growth. Ah, yes, I’m becoming an adult after all. This is what it must feel like, to have your shit together”.
So I created a To-Do list of all the things I was gonna accomplish: I’d build some muscle, read a lot of books, watch movies by fancy directors (so that I’d have something to say too at the dinners where the usual know-it-all flexes about their knowledge of cult films), ace all my classes, eat well and make sure to keep in touch with all my friends so that they don’t forget about my existence. Just repeating all my initial goals gets me excited as hell again.
Then I created a weekly To-Do list, then a daily To-Do list, which I later divided into three smaller To-Do lists, one for “health and wellbeing”, one for “intellectual pursuits”, one for “social life preservation”. I was fired up. I was about to take over the world from my prison cell sized bedroom.
I kept it going on for about a week. Then, I started slipping up. By my third week of quarantine, I got suffocated by a quicksand of Netflix series, peanut butter sandwiches, social media scrolling. I wake up at 11 in the morning, I follow about half of my classes and I eat as if I were born with a genetic mutation that makes me immune to any cholesterol related disease.
I look at myself in the mirror. The bathroom light is cruel. It shows all my cellulite holes and stretch marks. It’s my daily reminder that my body reflects my failure to achieve all the goals I set out for myself. Sleeping is the only thing that makes me feel good. Well, sleeping and masturbating. And eating. When I sleep, masturbate, or eat, for a moment I escape this tiny room, and its green walls (who the fuck thought this punch-in-the-eye green would be a good colour for a bedroom?), and the loneliness, the immense loneliness of my house.
I look at myself in the mirror, and I can’t shake the feeling that I am an utter disappointment, that I will never make something of myself, and that everyone else is somehow better, smarter, better equipped for life than I am. They all seem to be so, at least. On Instagram, they post photos of themselves working out, reading, video calling friends, baking cakes. I don’t even know how to bake plain cookies, if you wanna know the truth. I don’t know how to cook properly, I don’t have a job, and I continuously procrastinate any sort of bureaucratic matter. I still have to pay rent. Shit, I really need to pay rent. I’ll do it tomorrow.
My head is a nebula of worries and fears. Maybe I’m not enough. Maybe I will never, despite all the efforts, bring myself to be enough.
I look at myself in the mirror, and I wonder what the fuck am I doing here. I wonder if living like this, with a constant, underlining chasm devouring my chest, is really worth doing. Is it worth it to keep myself entertained, to find ways to avoid this stinging pain I feel inside my bones, to watch the days slip by, one by one, as I waste my youth in a puddle of Netflix episodes? I forget, I forget, I forget that other people exist. I haven’t replied to my friends’ messages in a couple of weeks. I forget that there is a world outside of my bedroom.
I look at myself in the mirror, and I wish I could get it over with. For a fraction of a second, I think about slitting my wrists and flying away. Then I feel guilty, because not only I’m failing at being an adult, I’m also an ungrateful individual who doesn’t acknowledge how lucky she is for not being affected by the virus.
Privilege, privilege, privilege. Every time I tell my mom I’m feeling down, she talks about privilege.
I’m lucky I have a home,
I’m lucky my parents haven’t lost their jobs,
I’m lucky no one I know died from the virus.
I know, I know, I know. But that doesn’t make me feel better, if anything it makes me feel guiltier for not being able to achieve happiness. I feel like I have no right to despair, because I am, after all, amongst the lucky ones. Still, here I am, despairing.
I look at myself in the mirror, and I try to breathe. Calm down. Calm the fuck down.
There is still a world out there, there are people living lives and entering rooms you don’t know. There are people, real people (not social media’s personas) who are laughing, crying, breathing, living in this very moment. Breathe.
Humans are not made to be alone. Forgive yourself for hurting. Don’t expect too much from yourself – just getting on is enough, at the moment.
Be patient, it will be over, sooner or later. And, if you’re in pain, acknowledge it. Don’t throw it away in shame. We’re all entitled to feel down, at times.
Exploring the struggles of forced isolation during the Corona crisis.
by Alice Cioni