It’s a strange feeling of abandon and guilt when you publish a “Thirty Before 30” list the day of your 29th birthday, and then fail to publish any follow-ups in regards to how that list might be coming along. It’s an even stranger feeling when two months into your 29th year, a global pandemic hits and one of the subconscious thoughts that flashes into the back of your mind is “I guess I have a good excuse as to why I won’t be accomplishing much before I turn 30!” But that small subconscious thought of comfortable stagnation eventually surfaced into a deep and real fear of the world we now know.
Simply because we all experienced the same Global Pandemic, doesn’t mean we experienced it in the same way. Everyone has their own narrative of how this pandemic affected them, and everyone’s experience is valid. My Global Pandemic experience wavered from bad to better to worse to HORRIBLE to finally somewhat more stable. On Friday March 13th, 2020, when it was announced that school’s and daycares would be closing for two weeks effective immediately (something that directly affects me given my line of work), I went into immediate panic mode.
As the spread of Covid-19 worsened, two weeks of closures turned into two months, turned into three, and eventually, it turned into five full months of being off work due to the closure. Five. Full. Months. “See you on Monday!” turned into “See you in August!” quicker than I could gather all my belongings from my classroom cubby (unaware that the banana I left inside would eventually transform into something more reminiscent of a deep-sea creature yet to be discovered).
So five full months of being off work in 2020 and my “Thirty Before 30” list looks even longer than when I wrote it. Sure there are several things on that list already completed as I accomplished them long before I wrote the list. But the remaining goals I’m meant to accomplish before I turn 30 in a mere two months, those goals look virtually untouched.
10 art pieces? I created one. Last week. 1 blog post a month? I’ve barely been able to hammer this one out until just now. Host a dinner party?! There hasn’t been a lot of time wherein we’ve even been allowed to have a group of people over to our apartment. So I guess it IS fair to blame some of my lethargy on the current state of the world, as some of the goals simply aren’t attainable given the ongoing Global Pandemic and all. Like going skydiving, going to a drag show and, very sadly, going on a beach vacation to somewhere hot, to celebrate my 30th birthday in the season I most align with, opposed to the cold, dark, dead of January that I was actually born into.
But not accomplishing some of my goals due to the actual, physical limitations of the pandemic is not the only valid reason for why my list remains incomplete. The tangible effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic surfaced in an economical downturn, job loss of thousands, limitations on travel, social gatherings and outings, and the inability to purchase basic household items at the store (still haven’t found Lysol wipes?!). But the intangible effects of the pandemic were/are just as valid, and incredibly detrimental to any humanbeing.
Over the past several months, I myself can admit to having felt heightened levels of worry and fear during ordinary mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, ordering takeout or going for a run. And deeper, more intense feelings of anxiety during moments of social interaction with (albeit, small) friends and family. Sitting there, trying to be present in a socially distanced park hang with friends. Or a visit with a family wherein everyone wears a mask. Trying to enjoy their company and retain every happy moment, unsure of when we may have another one. Meanwhile, inside, I’m laden with anxiety and fear. I’ve canceled plans, abandoned outings, and literally left a Thanksgiving dinner the very moment I arrived when an intense and terrifying wave of anxiety washed over me. This virus is real. But the emotional, mental, and spiritual effects that it has left on so many people, are just as real. And they’re scary.
The deep anguish I experienced, and continue to feel from time to time, is not an avoidant tactic. My Thirty Before 30 list got trimmed down by the shock of these times. It’s the result of a global trauma. And that’s a valid reason as to why nothing about this year, went as planned–an experience we all shared. Looking back at those moments of fear and anxiety brings slight discomfort, but also brings a new realization: I am always and forever learning about my own behavior and traits. I am always and forever changing, experiencing emotional shifts, disconnects, and imbalance. So although it hurts to look back, it’s important to look back and acknowledge how I can grow. What I can do to better support my fears and anxieties. What I can do to ensure that I keep surviving.
Because for a large portion of this year, I was in fact, just surviving. Sure, for a large portion of this year I was at home and not working. But that in itself was surviving. That in itself was a new challenge to my mental agility, emotional health, and social life (or lack thereof). That in itself was something I never thought to put on my Thirty Before 30 list. But now that I’ve lived it, I’m adding it on, and checking it off.
Pandemic 2020 ✓