Not So Dreadful Isolation

Photo by Fatema Sachak

Everyone is in the same boat: trapped inside, attempting to stay sane and thinking of ways to stay safe, whilst simultaneously trying new and innovative ways to keep occupied at optimal productivity. I’m sure we all receive recommendations on how to prevent the virus and insanity, including homemade remedies that likely don’t work (eating garlic or bathing in essential oils). However, in reality a lot of us are going stir crazy. We are in dire need of human interaction, a break from the boredom, the monotony of nothingness, and our motivation hits a whole new low each day. Staying in pajamas and working from the comfort of one’s own bed is fun for a few days, but the thrill fades quickly. 

The first week I was extremely motivated. With more free time, I could do all the things I had been meaning to do but hadn’t had the time or reason to start. The first weekend I started yoga and working out, soon realizing how unfit I was. I finished a book I had been trying to get through, video chatted with family and friends and started learning Farsi. I even finished a 500-piece puzzle. I felt great! I was determined to accomplish so much during this isolation period. The second week I practiced yoga almost every day and was working out regularly. I was motivated in my job and believed being a homebody was not awful. I started cooking and baking, trying out new recipes and experimenting with ingredients. I could get through this! However, as soon as the 3rd week started, my motivation started to wane. I stopped my workout routine and Farsi lessons, and I began to eat all the food I had baked and hoarded. 

Over the next two weeks I saw myself putting on weight and getting depressed. I began craving a cigarette. I don’t smoke, I haven’t smoked in the past, but the act was an alluring way to pass time and to feel some sort of high. I never followed through with my desire, but I remained lazy. I had no other plans or excuses for my idleness, but there was always the internal justification that we’ll be here for a while; I can just do whatever I was planning on completing or starting tomorrow. Bad idea, because tomorrow never comes when we keep putting things off. However, if we get off our sofas today, go outside, breathe in some fresh air and move around, we accomplish a lot. After getting over my hump, I have experimented in the kitchen and loved it, read several inspiring books, started an online course, and turned to receiving exhilaration from the high of exercise.  

Although I am constantly pushing myself to be positive and busy every day, I gravely miss human interaction. I never thought I would ever miss getting up early and going into the office this much. The friendly faces, the commotion and energy of Chinatown and the metro, are some of the few things I yearn for more and more as each day passes. I never imagined missing the commute, walking to and from work surrounded by hundreds of other people, bumping into you as they walk with their heads down, buried in their phones. I miss getting up, dressing up, putting on makeup and being slightly presentable. I miss having something to get dressed up for. I miss my friends, hugs and eating out. I am tired of cooking and eating at home, I want a delicious meal whipped up by a chef on a perfect spring evening, outside, with a glass of wine. I miss so much of what I cannot have, and it's been difficult to come to terms with that, but it’s also important to make the most of our situations. I’m employed, I’m healthy and I am not alone. In tough times It’s hard to see any light, but after the darkness, dawn brings out the beauty of life. 

It is comforting to know that the whole world is feeling the same; none of us are alone in our delirium or boredom. It’s incredible how this experience, while pulling us away from each other, has simultaneously brought so many closer together. We have more time for family, more time to talk to friends we have been meaning to call for months, and we have built an online community. We see love and hope throughout the world as we all band together to help each other and keep our spirits high.

It's okay to go crazy, it's okay to sit and wallow for a day, we all deserve that, but it is essential to keep a positive morale. For those of us who are healthy and safe, we can and should continue to pursue our goals and not feel defeated. It's so easy to give up, wish for unattainable things (i.e clorox), or for our previous lives. However, this is the perfect time to take a step back and be grateful for what we have, and for the heroes on the frontline saving lives. Don’t waste this time and don’t take life for granted. 

1 Comment For This Article

Ayman kheyroollaAnonymous

You expressed exactly what I have felt in stages only you put it in words and said it so well. Your essay highlights the rigors of isolation, the fears of this new disease looming over us and the challenge to rise above it..and count the many colours in our rainbow
Well done Fatima. May the silent prayer through what you writr take us back to our old lives a bit enriched and wisened. AND SAFE