I used to laugh at celebrities who said they were “Taking time off to find myself.” Silly. “Find myself?” Really? It just sounded so clichéd, so self-serving. Find myself. Ridiculous.
But, the last 21 months living under a pandemic that forced close-downs, divisive segments of the population which became ever more violent, partisan politics turning ever more nasty, not to mention the constant nagging fear that no matter what you’ve done to protect yourself—vaccinations, mask-wearing, keeping a respectable distance from others—Covid-19 was still out there replicating and mutating and waiting for its victims—changed everything. It was a Twilight Zone story mixed with the Zombie-apocalypse unfolding right in front of our startled eyes. Life, as we knew it, was changing fast.
It made us ask ourselves these questions: I’m not the person I was before all this unbelievable mess began am I? I mean, I must have changed because of these unreal life changes, right? How could I possibly be the same person I was in the past! I am so confused!
Maybe finding oneself isn’t so self-serving after all.
The journey to find myself, find the “real you”, more than likely began to take shape during the period of forced pandemic isolation. At first, for me and many others, it was for fun, a game that would occupy our time when bingeing multiple shows every day became too exhausting and we all had trouble remembering which characters were which in what show.
We mentally began to explore new paths for our future, a future that is more uncertain now than ever before, but nonetheless out there. What did we really want to do, where did we want to be when the pandemic was finally, mercifully, over? What much-needed changes were we willing to make? We also compared who we were to who we are now becoming. Fun at first, finally seriously taken. We’re on a journey of self-discovery.
We found that our usually unlimited compassion for others did indeed have its limits. By that I don’t mean that we don’t feel empathy for humanity, but we have found that we may not have a high tolerance for people who do and say stupid things that may be detrimental to others and who refuse to understand the desperate situations of the pandemic. We don’t have to be okay with disinformation or the people who spread it, friends and family included. We will not easily suffer fools again. Ever.
Our time is, well, our time. We stopped assuming that if we weren’t busy until it was time to fall exhausted into bed, we weren’t a worthy person. Worthy of what I have no idea, but if we weren’t consumed with work, then we were lazy and not productive enough. We made the decision that we would take that long walk, watch a movie, read that book we had been wanting to read, or simply meditate. We needed ‘me time’.
We decided to try something new. I bought a piano and began teaching myself to play. I’ve always wanted to learn and now is the perfect time. I’ll never be a concert pianist but I will enjoy playing. Other people I know took up a sport, a dance, gourmet cooking—something they never really did before.
Work—home or office? We opted for a little of both. We no longer wanted to spend all our time in a job away from home. We wanted our freedom to choose how and where we work. Some of us even made the choice to forge a new career path. Online courses boomed.
Many became philanthropists. You don’t have to be a billionaire to be one—monthly giving to favorite charities makes you a real honest-to-goodness philanthropist. And it makes you feel good too.
Religious beliefs changed too. While some found comfort in their known religion, the one they had practiced since childhood, many more sought out other spiritual beliefs. The concept of God changed for us in good and positive ways. Maybe it wasn’t that ‘old time religion’ but it was something new and filled us with peace and hope.
Relocation surfaced big time and we made the choice, that we may have been putting off for years, to move. Hate the cold? We moved to warmer climes. City life too claustrophobic? Hello small towns in the suburbs and even rural areas. We began to feel that life is unpredictable and too short not to live where we want to live.
Finally, we reevaluated relationships. Some came through with flying colors, couples stayed together and friendships survived. Some relationships needed an overhaul, a ‘let’s-step-back-and-see-what-we-can-make-better’ in our lives together. Others came to decisions that the relationships weren’t working and were actually detrimental to our lives.
So in a sense we all were, consciously or unconsciously, trying to find the ‘real me’. The pandemic taught us a valuable lesson in a way. Living life the way we want it to be, valuing ourselves, is a must. Making changes to achieve that goal is the real trick to finding ourselves.