So, we’re on lockdown day number… Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you. It started with people all over social media saying that this was the time to do something. Learn a new skill, start a business, do this, do that - just do something. Then we came to the conclusion that, actually, this pandemic is all a bit too much for us to handle. That it was okay to not be doing okay. That it was okay to take care of ourselves. But what does that even mean?
Should I be journaling, and working out, and doing meditations and breathing exercises, while also being in tune with my emotion and trying to understand everything that is going on around me, as well as understanding how that is affecting me on a daily basis? If you managed to read that all in one breath, congrats. But that doesn’t sit so well with me. It’s a pressure in itself to have to feel like you can always control how you’re feeling, that whilst you’re not performing to a target academically or professionally, somehow, you’re meant to see this growth in yourself, and your lifestyle, and everything you’re ‘doing’. I keep hearing the word mindfulness. Everywhere.
I’ve heard it so much that it’s starting to sound like just another buzzword to me. Because if I use the word mindful or mindfulness, I get it, right? I’m so woke. I’m with the times. It suddenly signifies that I’m somehow better than someone else because I’m claiming to be mindful. But are you? Is it a practice or a performance? I see pictures and videos and tutorials on how to be mindful everywhere, and people share their moments of ‘well-being’ (whatever that means) all over the web, telling you how to get somewhere and how to achieve something within yourself. But what if I’m different? What if being in a room in complete silence actually gives me major anxiety? What if forcing myself to do something just because an influencer I follow on Instagram is doing it just makes it worse? What if I realised that my mental health and my well-being at this time can’t be dictated by a rigorous practice that I am forcing myself into? Start with you.
Yes, I know. That sounds incredibly cliche, but let’s get something straight - no two people on Earth have had the same exact experiences in their life, right? Or at the very least, the impact of these experiences on each individual is different. So how am I meant to believe that the same practices or fads are going to be as effective on me as they are on someone else, and vice versa?
Oftentimes, when we are looking at the ‘issue’ we think we’re facing, we’re actually only tackling what is referred to as the ‘presenting problem’, meaning that it is what is showing on the surface. I’ll give you an example. Say I’m living with someone else, and they’re on a schedule, they’re on calls, they’re working, they’re always in my space in the house. I’m annoyed right? Perhaps I’m annoyed and frustrated that I feel like I can’t get a minute to myself; that’s the problem. WRONG. That is what my presenting problem is. It’s then up to me to dig a little deeper and understand what is actually bubbling under the surface, what I’m dealing with internally that is being projected into this ‘presenting problem’. And that’s not going to be the same for everyone, it just isn’t. Yeah, I knew that. Now what?
Don’t look for a quick fix. Don’t get into a fad. Don’t feel like you’re failing because you haven’t done your guided meditation for the day or what have you. Instead, try to think of something that brings you happiness, in the purest sense. Something that perhaps you did as a child that really brings back those memories of carefree fun and tranquility, and if possible, try to work that into your day, or your week, or your month. But the most important thing is that you try. Being in touch with your psyche and understanding your mental health is a tall order, and we seem to be downplaying it as something you can just do. It takes a lot. Some things that are troubling you might even be ones that you haven’t been wanting to admit to yourself or that you’ve been suppressing by keeping yourself busy when everything was ‘normal’. So it’s a process?
Yes, It’s a process. You will spend your whole life getting to know yourself, and you will always surprise yourself with new things that you discover. It’s hard now; to differing degrees, but it is. What you have now is a moment to really get to know yourself, to reset, to understand that jealousy, unfulfillment, joy and happiness. Not the thing itself but what is at the root of it. Fiona Apple summarises it best when she says: “Every emotion is appropriate, whenever it arises”. If you’re coping well with lockdown, more power to you! If you’re not, pull up a chair and join the club. It’s a process we’re all in, together as individuals.
Studio 18 Alum