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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Iowa chapter.

It’s been about a year since the pandemic struck Iowa, which means it’s been about a year since I shifted into what I can only refer to as my “Emily Dickinson reclusive stage.” As for many, the pandemic evoked fear in me that I hadn’t experienced before. Fear of people, fear of the world, fear of what was to come. I moved into an apartment in August where I’ve now lived alone for upwards of eight months. My Dickinson-esque lifestyle didn’t and still hasn’t really changed. However, something did change me. 

I started going to therapy just before the pandemic for other reasons, but I’m so lucky I did. I would’ve been in even worse shape had I not been in therapy through the beginning of quarantining at my parent’s house in Pennsylvania. Through the earlier months of it all, I sank into a deep hole of darkness, more fear, and grief for all that was being lost. I was grieving for what felt like the entire world. It took me months to feel like I was a person again. In retrospect, I wasn’t better per se, but I felt a little better. 

All of this is to say that living alone through a pandemic has completely rewired who I am and how I care for myself. 

I’ve started putting sticky notes all over my apartment with affirmations, reminders to take my meds, and that despite everything chaotic happening outside I still love myself. One of my favorite phrases now, ironically from the Apple TV show Dickinson is this: “refuse to be the daisy, and start being the sun.” This is to say that I am in control of my life, and I am in control of how I navigate it. I’ve plastered this saying everywhere, it’s on my fridge, the bathroom mirror, and on a bracelet. This saying led me to another way I care for myself now: being the person I needed when I was growing up. Reconnecting with my inner child. 

Sometimes, it’s through silly things like the fact that my room at my parents’ new house in Arizona has a tv in it. I was never allowed a tv in my room. Other silly things include eating ice cream for breakfast. Another aspect of reconnecting with my inner child that may sound silly is that I’ve fallen in love with the world of Harry Potter. (Not JK Rowling, though.) If I’ve learned anything during this pandemic (other than simple human decency and wearing a mask to protect myself and others), it’s that having a world to get lost in separate from reality has saved my life. 

The moments that really connect me to my inner child are when I tell myself all the things I needed to hear at different ages. Younger Megan would need to hear that it’s okay to be different and the people who bully are only scared of your power. Sixteen-year-old Megan would need to hear that it’s okay not to be in relationships, it’s okay to only want to find yourself, it’s okay to not even want to be in a relationship. I still need to hear that some days at twenty-two. Every stage of my life has had a different hardship that I’m still grieving to this day. I am still reinventing myself. I am still growing, and all of that is beautiful. 

Growing up, I relied on other people to validate me and make me feel whole. But, living through this pandemic has taught me that I am enough to validate myself, whole on my own, and reinventing myself is a beautiful process. Each part of me from my past seems to have come to hold my hand through this awful time, and for those Megans and the Megan I am now, I am grateful.

Meg is a senior majoring in Criminology, Law, & Justice, with a certificate in Writing, and a minor in Communications. She can frequently be found rewatching Gilmore Girls for the 900th time, consuming copious amounts of coffee, reading Harry Potter, and watching Flyers games. She is immensely passionate about photography and telling stories. In the future, she will pursue a career as a paralegal.
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