Interpreting the Self in Quarantine #2
Embracing Doesn’t Mean Surrendering
Currently, I do not know what my sense of self is. I don’t know where she went. I don’t know if I want beans or peas with my dinner, I don’t know what time I should go to sleep, I don’t know what to wear for another day of the panny-D (an expression I have recently used to add a bit of light chic to the situation). What I do know is that I am finding time to do the things that the hustle and bustle of the ordinary life makes us think is less important. What’s more important than spending my day doing a painting by numbers? I give myself an extra half an hour in bed in the morning. I allow a longer screen time, with a less burdening debt on my mind about the worries of mobile phone radiation. I listen to Radio 4’s Desert Island Disc’s like they are the most delicious salty snack that I cannot stop consuming, and one I don’t feel guilty for doing so. Sometimes I wake up feeling like those pesky monkeys are crashing tin cymbals in my ears, but sometimes I can wake feeling rather content with another day of whatever this may be. It is perfectly ok to lose your normal sense during this time. I think it would be a bit worrying if you didn’t.
Much like life, we are all having such different experiences of this epoch of time. Whether that be our financial situation, where we are living and who with, or what we are doing to fill the hours all completely vary. Before this all got serious, I was rather good at beginning my day before 10am. But a few days into this abnormally unstructured way of life, my usual routine began to slide. The pyjamas remained inhabited for longer, the gaps between hair-washing day grew at an exponential rate and the dry shampoo remains in full abundance and completely undisturbed because – why waste it? As I reach for my razor in not-so-daily showers, I ask myself, what is the point? It can be utmost disturbing letting our body do what it wants without our control, but that is something that has become the way of the world too. Maybe this is a time to embrace it; the stray eyebrow hairs that grow parallel between the brow and the hairline and, of course, the global situation. Embracing doesn’t mean surrendering, it is, in its own way, a fight back against it.
When Twitter asks me ‘What’s Happening?’, the answer is obvious. I’m on Twitter. With this online world becoming more apparent in our lives, it is arguable whether it is for better, or for the worst. It gently brushes the itch to witness others in action; you see someone’s painting, but you don’t see them trying to get the spilt paint out of the carpet. I admire the people learning Tiktok routines that I tap with a loveable like whilst I sit in my bed eating Monster Munch like some horny widow. I hear the pressure washers and the lawn mowers crusading their way whilst I turn the volume up on my laptop to block out their raging sound. I admire those who get ready for the day whilst I sit in my 2012 graphic tee from Cyprus and a pair of almost crotchless Hollister joggers. Sometimes I will get ready for the day as if it was perfectly normal, but some days I won’t. Both are decisions are ok. It is no surprise that my skin has erupted into mounds, and it was even more predictable that my nails would be stubbed and bitten. I’ve trimmed my fringe far too short with the blunt kitchen scissors, but I am content in the knowledge it will grow back.
All of the comforting things we used to have in a light stretch away and in full profusion have been taken away. No longer can we distract ourselves with the skin-care aisle in Boots, nor can we spend our Sunday mornings people-watching in Victoria park, and we definitely cannot spontaneously go fuck someone we found on Tinder. This sense of distraction is no longer and instead, we are left with our thoughts, literature, music and nature. These are an example of the pocketful of our pleasure sources. The monotony, of course, can be cruel. I miss the brisk wake-up walk on the way to a lecture, the familiar faces of the library early-birds and the random objects that decorate my advisors book-cave of an office. Although I don’t like to credit the man, Morrissey was right about one thing; everyday really does feel like a Sunday. Whilst this new routine is all foreign to us, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I have always wished for less to do, more time for myself and a chance to do the simple things that make me happy. This is that time. A time to examine what we need, what fuels our happiness and a time to practice the art of gratitude. That is something that can always be more prevalent in our lives. Not to sound like some woo-woo guru with a homemade necklace made out of penne pasta, draped in glitter, and intertwined with colourful beads, but there could be healing that comes from this. At first, I thought, well, this is a bit shit. But now, this is a bit…kind of…ok? We can grow from this.
As Brittany Packnett perfectly concluded, ‘We are all weathering the same storm, but we are not in the same boat’.