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Quarantine and No Chill

Over the past few months, I’ve gone through a lot of emotions (obviously) but one feeling that I’m tired of feeling is frustrated. I started this quarantine quite nicely, you know. I took up and finished a Social Media Marketing course (I’m now certified in creating social media strategy, yay!). I advanced my French a lot by listening to podcasts and speaking the language every day, I had just started an internship that I was excited to learn from, I was even working out...I was productive and happy. What I loved the most about my productivity at the beginning of the quarantine period, though, was that I felt like I finally had time to meet goals that I had been holding off. I was so excited about the prospects of being isolated and focused on myself, because when does the world ever stop to give you time, you know? Sparks were lit everywhere as I explored and discovered and created parts of myself. But then George Floyd was murdered, and everything started going downhill. I became anxious about everything. I was frustrated with the world, with how it made me feel as a black African woman, and with how I couldn’t bounce back as easily as I wanted to.

It had never taken me this long to recover from an event that didn’t directly affect me. But then isn’t that the curse of being an empath? Everything feels like it affects you directly. I struggled a lot to dig myself out of that place because I was so unsure about everything. Should I let myself be sad for a month or a week? Do I tell everyone? Do I still have to respond to text messages? Should I take another nap even if this will be my third nap of the day? Should I eat even though I’m not hungry and haven’t been in two days? It took almost two months to feel like 30% of myself again (and you can read about that journey here) and even when I did, it took double the effort to try to be productive again. I had spent weeks being frustrated with everything from the world to myself but it took my being frustrated with my frustration to do something about the question I kept asking myself: will I be like this forever? Sparkless?  

It was at this point when I felt myself split into two Fikemis - the one that currently wanted nothing to do with anything relatively tiring because she was already so emotionally drained, and the one that knew where I was, but wanted nothing more than to get me through this stage...no matter how long it took. Thinking of myself that way helped me compromise with myself. I knew it would be much harder to be productive but I also knew, even as tired as I was that I still wanted to meet the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the quarantine period. It was like I was doing future Fikemi a favor - one that I don’t regret. 

Getting back on my feet happened slowly, then all at once (shout out to John Green for that incredible line...if you know, you know). At first, I couldn’t focus for longer than an hour at a time and then it became two hours. Eventually, I began to block out 5 hours of each day to meet different goals. After getting back home to my family, it felt like something clicked. Suddenly, I could see things a little clearer and I started to regain my energy. It has been amazing understanding myself in a way that helps me be both kind and encouraging to all parts of me. I love that I didn’t rush myself to get to this point and so my rest feels long-lasting. 

I, in no way, intend for anyone to take this short story (?) as a guide to getting over-emotional exhaustion, or as a vision of what a “well-spent quarantine” looks like, or as an underestimation of deep pain, frustration or fatigue. All I hope that these two articles have done is offer another perspective of emotional drain and (more importantly) emotional healing to someone that may not have thought of them this way. My favourite quote insists that when you get tired, you should learn to rest and not quit (Banksy) and this summer has proven to me that it’s so worth it. 

I wish you all the strength to get through battles that no one else knows you are struggling through.

 

"Let yourself respond authentically to each moment as it arrives without being bound to the narrative of who you think you are."
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