In my desk, there is a bright red notebook and within its thin blue gridlines are all of the goals I did and did not achieve last year. A couple were completed; like my financial goals. I had nowhere to go because of Covid, and nowhere to sit down and enjoy a nice meal or a hot cup of cocoa; like my reading goals because I craved plunging into a world different than the one I was living in.
But most of my goals were not… And in lieu of ticking these now intangible things off of the handwritten list hiding in this daunting little red notebook in my desk, I felt strangely “paused”.
I lost my motivation to read, to write, to create, to grow, to achieve, to work, to be. One could say I lost my “joie de vivre” somewhere along the way.
They tippytoed late at night and managed to get under my skin and in my head
I used to pride myself for not letting the coronavirus depression get to me – I always managed to stay busy, keep my mind off of the grim reality of the outside world and call and stay in touch with the people closest to me. I buried myself in books, in alternate realities, in worlds built differently than mine – I guess this was my way of coping with what was happening outside.
Turns out I was not as strong as I imagined myself to be. And to be honest, no one is. No one who has witnessed the horrors of 2020 and who has a loving heart, and a kind soul could state that his/her life has not been affected in any way. Thankfully, neither I, nor my closest people have felt any grave or long-lasting consequences from the pandemic. Except my goals that is.
As the months of 2020 started to roll out, I slowly came to realise that, in fact, maybe for a first time in a long time, I won’t be able to achieve what I planned out for myself. Then sadness and depression followed. But they didn’t bust the door down and come into my life with fireworks – rather they tippytoed late at night and managed to get under my skin and in my head. And slowly but surely started to affect my everyday life.
As if life measures itself out not in coffee spoons and the smell of old books, but in lines struck through lists in notebooks
It was hard to get a grip of myself again, it was hard to get back to writing and it was hard to connect with friends, share my story and ask for help. Little by little, a cup of coffee at a time, a page read at a time, I managed to “unpause” my own life’s story and smile and hug and kiss again.
When I look back, I can see how childish this whole experience might seem to you – sadness caused by goals I, myself, created. As if life measures itself out not in coffee spoons and the smell of old books, but in lines struck through lists in notebooks. Don’t let your own expectations, for a year that was not expected, put you down.
So much time has passed since last January. I never went to visit the countries on my list, I didn’t get much better at Danish, I still haven’t begun my painting lessons. But I did find the perfect French pancake recipe, I rediscovered my long-lost passion for books, I lived a thousand lives within thousands of pages accompanied by my favourite authors. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on exchange and I was fortunate enough to have been able to go back to my family for Christmas.
I realise how fortunate I am to have found a steady job in these uncertain times and to share a small apartment with the person I love. I didn’t write these goals down at the beginning of January, but achieving them brought me a great sense of accomplishment, greater than achieving any of my predefined goals that every person has in their mind – finances, weight, studies, work.
You are all the thoughts in your head, all the love in your heart and all the kindness in your soul...
Just because the things we achieve quietly, slowly under the veil of daily mundanity seem small next to the great, grand plans does not mean that they are not valuable nor does it mean that they were not, at times, difficult. So often, we give ourselves all of these hills to climb, not for the benefit of the exertion, nor the beauty of looking out from the peak, but for the notches on our belts that no one pays attention to except for us.
So, to the students like me, the students who have felt paused: Every moment, you are learning, you are growing, you are moving. Be kind and keep in mind that you are not your resolutions list, you are not words written on a piece of paper. You are all the thoughts in your head, all the love in your heart and all the kindness in your soul…