If you asked me in March when I came home to Seattle, Washington for Spring Break if I thought that I would still be in Seattle living with my parents in October, I would have stood speechless, baffled by the idea. Now months later, here I am, still at home and truthfully feel like a much better version of myself through this crazy time.
I was recently asked to reflect on some of the things that I have learned from 2020 and this unfortunate time of uncertainty. While collecting my thoughts to answer this question in a meaningful way, the obvious reply became apparent. Being at home with my parents, I have learned to reflect on who I am and what I truly value and prioritize. I have always considered myself an extrovert, and I think others would describe this as a characteristic of mine as well. I love to talk, often too much, and I am very conversational most of the time. I love to spend time with people, and generally, I feel lonely and unhappy when placed in a situation that makes me feel isolated or without company. During my time in Seatte, for the first time in maybe forever, I have had the chance to truly reflect on my character in the prescence of my parents – thanks to the ample amount time away from my friends and usual social gatherings.
A simple concept that I have come to prioritize since being at home is how to reflect and deal with unhappiness and stress. My stress for the most part is derived from school work and the fear of not getting into the higher education programs that I want to after graduation. On a deeper level, I have begun to realize one main source of my unhappiness comes from the feeling of being unwanted and not being enough in the eyes of others. In the past I have found that I looked for validation from others as a way to feel proud of myself because it felt common and natural. To help myself, I have taken to running as a meditative and therapeutic mode of self-improvement as well as a method of de-stressing; after all, physical activity is a source of physical, mental and emotional benefits and relief.
I ran in high school and since starting college I put it on the back burner, allocating time for other events that seemed more important. I started running and prioritizing it again in late-March. At that point, I could barely run a few miles without taking a break. This was so frustrating to me knowing that in my past, I had run half marathons and cross-country races. Now, finally getting back into the groove of working out daily and running, I realize how happy I feel. I started to value myself more because I know that I am doing something that makes me feel accomplished as well as prioritizing an activity that helps me deal with my insecurities. Running is not for everyone, but daily doses of physical activity provide me with tremendous benefits. I am not just saying this because I’m a Kinesiology major, though I have to admit that I am a bit biased.
Being at home with my parents has helped me feel more productive in certain ways, despite being a furloughed 20-year-old, with a canceled internship, doing Zoom classes from her living room. I wake up every morning for my classes at either 7:30 AM or 9 AM depending on the day. As I lazily make my way to the bathroom, I observe that both of my parents have completed their workouts, eaten breakfast and are both in work mode in their home offices. I applaud myself for making it to my early Zoom classes, however, observing their routines, as intimidating as they are, has honestly made me more of a morning person and has made me increase my length of sleep to a more healthy amount. Being around my parents, even though I know I am supposed to be working on my independence at this age away from the “nest,” has helped me reflect on how I, as a person, choose to prioritize my time and better my daily routines. While this varies from person-to-person, I have thought about how my parents reflect on me, and how my drive to succeed has come from them. I figured out how to graduate a year early, and without all of the reflection time that I have been able to allocate for myself, the thought probably would have never occurred.
I have become more attuned to what I value with the help of the people around me and my understanding of my personal needs to make the best of these difficult times. As I plan to move back to my college apartment and lifestyle next semester, I want to try to stay true to myself as a person and honor the values that I have discovered are very meaningful to me, values that the pandemic gave me the opportunity to reflect on.
It is important to not be so hard on yourself for feeling the way you do. Take this time as an opportunity to reflect and understand who you are as a person and what is important to you. This comes from observing those you surround yourself with and understanding how it impacts you and what makes you feel happy with yourself, you are enough and worthy.