Haley Mug

Dear readers,

It’s so nice to finally talk to someone! Do you want to hear a funny story?

Earlier this week, I found myself sitting alone on my living room floor, laughing at a joke I told to no one. After realizing my situation, I loudly questioned the empty air of my home, “Have I finally gone crazy, or is this what it feels like to be happy with myself?”

Before this, I could not name a single day where I have not interacted with another human face-to-face. While I am not one who thrives in social situations — I get anxious when I have to speak in front of three people — I have always loved to be around others. But given the current circumstances of social distancing and the fact that all of my roommates chose to quarantine elsewhere, I was left with no choice but to face myself.

The first few days of this whole mess were hard. Everything was closed, everyone was gone and the city was coated in an eerie gray haze; it didn’t feel real. Three days in, I spent (most of) my 20th birthday alone, cycling through sleep with hopes that when I awoke, my circumstances would be just part of a bad dream.

Maybe it was a quick spell of depression, or maybe it was just something in the air, but I repeated this same drowsy nonsense for days. Finally, after a week or so, I awoke to realize that this was how life was going to be for a while and I was going to have to get out of bed sometime — even if everything still felt like a dream.

I realized that I was obviously going through some things, and years of therapy have taught me that I have the tools to deal with any problem that might arise in my life.

I knew I had to start by identifying the problem: I was in denial of my situation. But why was I having such a hard time accepting this? Although it may sound selfish, I landed on the answer that this was simply because I did not want to be alone, and since there was no way for me to change it, it’s probably “not real.”

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve relied on others for too much in my life — validation, comfort, happiness. I never looked for these things within myself, and now that I was alone I didn’t know where to find them. And instead of actually dealing with this problem, I avoided it and buried my head in my pillow for too many hours a day.

From there, I decided it was time to embark on the journey of self-love and acceptance. Right now, it feels like the world is standing still and I actually have the time to make changes in my life. When else am I going to have the opportunity to solely focus on myself? I decided to cut back on my virtual communication and started doing only what I wanted to do — my math homework and phone calls home became neglected while painting and daily walks dominated my time.

With this, I became more comfortable with being alone. I started waking up before 1 p.m. and made the effort to actually make use of this dreadful period of isolation. I could feel myself becoming more in tune with my emotions and actively partaking in digging deeper into my feelings — as lame as that sounds. 

I found myself opting out of virtual hangouts and instead blaring my favorite songs throughout my house. “Nobody” by Mitski has really helped to keep me grounded throughout this solitary wild ride of reflection. Also, I decided that I’m still funny — even if I don’t have anyone around to humor. I have myself and I should appreciate my own jokes from time-to-time. 

Through this time of social distancing, I have really found what it means to live for myself. Without the chaos of the world right now, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to learn how to appreciate myself. The coronavirus has forced me to slow down, instead of bogging myself down with a 56-hour workweek, and I have been able to work on myself. While this is a pretty scary time for everyone right now, it’s alright to take a step back and focus on the areas of your life you can control and improve.

So that’s it. That’s the story of how I found myself questioning sanity versus self-love. I don’t know if it was all that funny, but I’m glad I could get you caught up.

Thanks for putting up with me,

Haley Elder

Assistant culture editor