A woman standing against a wall with curtains as her hair cover half her face

Panic was my initial reaction.

Fear for my parents and for my loved ones. Fear of being separated. Fear of unemployment. Fear of the unknown and fear of what is known.

After days of mass media binging and multiple tears, clarity arrived. I calmed and rationally assessed my situation. Living in another country, away from your family is synonymous with isolation. In an already isolated situation, the coronavirus heightened my remoteness tenfold.

In an already isolated situation, the coronavirus heightened my remoteness tenfold.

What were my actual worries? In other words, which issues directly affected me and what could I do to fix them? Foremost, as a Canadian living in the United States, I needed to know if the situation was to escalate (which it has) would I be able to cross the border?

I contacted the Embassy, and they put my worries to rest. As a citizen, you are entitled to certain rights, and one of those is you are always welcome to your homeland. Phew. Crisis averted.

Next, I had to decide whether to stay in the United States or not. If I went home, then I would be putting my parents at risk and that was not something I was willing to risk. Another concern was employment. Like most, my industry was affected and being a freelance Wardrobe Stylist means other than the money that is owed, no future payments will be forthcoming. Note to self: Marry someone who has full benefits and is considered an “essential” worker.

Before measures were mandated in North America, a friend from France informed me of the curfew and business closings in Europe. Anticipating the worst possible scenario, I applied to jobs deemed “essential.” The financial gain was not the sole reason why I sought full-time employment. As a single, young woman living alone and already feeling the ramifications of social distancing, I knew working would satisfy my social needs. I was fortunate to find a full-time position in health care.

As a single, young woman living alone, I am already feeling the ramifications of social distancing.

In order to keep my spirits high, I began partaking in online exercise classes and maintaining a nutritious diet. These combined practices have eased my anxiety and diverted my attention. Nonetheless, a grim unsettling feeling remains. My heart goes out to everyone who is facing financial hardships and is battling this illness.

I worry about the safety of front line workers. I wonder how long isolation will last and how difficult it must be to have children at this time. I wonder how long until I reunite with my family. My brain goes on tangents as my heart simultaneously empathizes for the victims and families affected. These thoughts engross my mind, making me feel powerless and hopeless. 

The United Nations reassures us that “we are in this together and we will get through this, together.”

It doesn’t feel that way, at least for me. I seek comfort and safety, and I have no one to turn to. Instead of pitying myself, I have changed my outlook and decided that this is about survival. I need to survive this. You need to survive this. As a global community, we need to continue marching forward.

As a global community, we need to continue marching forward.

Besides employment, health and social interactions, what we need most of all is hope. Hope, I truly believe, is the essential food for our soul. Hope enables you to endure. Hope keeps you keepin’ on. The promise of a better tomorrow keeps you working hard today.

If you are unemployed, then I recommend tackling tasks you have put off. Try daily journaling and reading. Check on friends and relatives. There has never been a better time to let someone know you are thinking about them.

Create a schedule for yourself each day the night prior. Pamper yourself. Learn a new skill. If the news is affecting your mental health, then avoid watching for a few days or altogether.

We are all going through the same waves of emotions and facing the same hurdles, but we each have different support systems and resources available to us. Don’t let your worry or boredom get the best of you. Know that things may worsen, but your responsibility is to take care of you and those you reside with. Count your blessings. Use this time to appreciate the little things, including yourself. 

Are you living alone during this time of social distancing? If so, how are you handling it?

Image via Tereza Janakova,  Darling Issue No. 16

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