Self-care can take on many forms. No matter what it might look like to you; a morning run, an afternoon nap, a bubble bath and a glass of wine, a zoom call with loved ones, or simply doing nothing and just relaxing—it all doubles as an outlet for stress, which we could all certainly use more of during a pandemic.
I, like many others in March, found myself unemployed and mourning the normalcy of day-to-day life. I was regularly bombarded with articles on the internet telling me how to spend my time in quarantine, learning a new skill. Some were gentle suggestions, others shamed you for unproductiveness. It was a constant push and pull to figure out the “right way” to sit with the collective hardship we were all adjusting to. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that there really isn’t one right way.
I did not learn a new language, develop 6 pack abs, write a novel, or invent a gluten free/vegan/zero calorie banana bread that actually tastes good (though, if you have that recipe, let me know). My self-care was a bit more simple. The only real routine I could muster the energy to maintain during quarantine was daily journaling and creating art—something I’ve always enjoyed, but haven’t done in many years because it became a lesser priority as new life-responsibilities arose. I guess you could say that it took a pandemic for me to revert back to the basics.
Trying to build new habits or rebuild old ones, even when they are intended to help you, is no easy feat. I can now appreciate how much diligence is actually required. For me, putting thoughts and ideas to paper felt like I was physically unloading tension and giving it a place to rest. From there, it evolved from a therapeutic effort to something that provided me with a small sense of purpose during a time I felt very little. This feeling motivated me to take my hobby and see if I could turn it into something more.
As daunting as it was to put myself out there, I ultimately concluded that my fear of falling flat was hindering me from moving forward. What did I truly have to lose? I decided to use one of my main veins to the outside world (Instagram) to share some of what I was creating. By outwardly extending what was originally a very personal exercise, I found that it helped hold me accountable and incentivized my practice. I have since done several commissioned pieces, and have plans to open up at Etsy shop with my prints in the future.
My story is, by no means, a success story (I am still learning and getting my bearings), but it is certainly one of progress and self-expression. There is a quiet triumph in allowing yourself to be vulnerable, especially when it opens you up to new opportunities.