COVID-19 has got me stuck in my dorm and I’m left alone with my thoughts. I intend to make the best out of it during this quarantine period and I feel like for the first time I’ve got enough time on my hands to sort my thoughts and discover myself again. And I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste.
Everything is a blur inside my head. Well anyone’s head might be considering the online assessments we went through. I’m not going to lie: the questions were challenging – and the worst part was sifting through information from dozens of articles just to produce a paragraph. And the in-text and end-text referencing… I better not get started.
After taking a well-earned break by simply doing nothing worth mentioning for an entire day, I put my mind to work. My mind was cluttered with a lot of information and I needed to organize my thoughts. Since I’m not allowed to spend too much time outside, I paced around in my room thinking about everything that I had been through. I was talking out loud having a conversation with myself and I noticed something rather typical of me. I was just recalling all the bad that had happened in the span of one year. Life is a blend of tears and laughter; to concentrate only on the bad is not wise and is particularly damaging for your mind. So I made a list of everything I was grateful for: my family’s relentless support, my friends willingness to be there for me at any cost, my grades, the ceremonies that I’ve hosted, the classes I’ve taught and the impact I’ve made on my mentees, the times where I was creative enough to write poems depicting the humanitarian crisis in Yemen…
I hit pause to my train of thought.
Owing to everything that has played out so far, I’ve been facing some difficulties trying to find motivation to move forward and pursue my passion which for the longest time has been to assume the role of an educator/lecturer one day (long term) and to be the class valedictorian upon graduation (short term). But as I went through the good points of the year, I discovered that I have a knack for communicating my ideas through words and speech. Writing poetry/songs and hosting events are two of my abilities which I’m most proud of and I felt like those were my stepping-stone opportunities towards achieving something bigger than the goals I had set for myself. Ever since the lockdown, I’ve become increasingly aware of the world around me. I find myself getting updates from Facebook and scrolling through the daily news to get a view on what was happening all over the globe. Instead of just being conscious on the economic, social and environmental aspects of the world, I developed a strong political interest particularly for countries at war and unrest
When I first watched the documentary on the war in Yemen, I was shattered to say the least. People have been killed, kids have been orphaned and the lives of the people who survive were in ruins. It has been five long years of war and there were no signs of things getting better. I felt horrified watching the forty-minute documentary which only portrayed a fraction of the people’s sufferings; I can’t imagine how traumatizing it would be to be present amidst the chaos. I was overwhelmed with emotions and I had to vent in the only way familiar to me.
I put pen to paper and wrote a song.
It was a song for the children of Yemen who were braving through the horrors of war. “I took a minute of my time in quarantine” was the title. I’m not from Yemen and I’m not even Middle Eastern in fact. I’m from Yangon, the old capital of Myanmar, but I was a human being. It felt the unheard suffering of the people in Yemen and I knew I had to play my part in alleviating it. Even if it was as simple as raising awareness and urging my friends to donate any amount they are able to UNICEF (link: https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/yemen/). Based on how strong I felt about the whole situation, I felt a fire in me. I wanted to help. I wanted to do so much more. I may not be able to contribute much, financially, but I intend to. In fact, I found myself realigning my ambitions to cater to the needs of the underprivileged children. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Now I wanted to teach for free.
Suddenly, my head felt clear. I found my drive which was to teach and help those who couldn’t afford education. I drew up a plan for my future: I’d like to travel and earn a living teaching in universities – then I’d worked with children for free. I was proud of that goal. I felt like I was thinking more about the world than just being focused on what I wanted. I felt mature to be striving for the collective well-being of everyone. The whole idea, to me, was revolutionary.
I strode on with the ambition to improve myself. I had begun to realize that my thinking process was somewhat detrimental. Drowning deep in all the misfortunes in my life, I developed trust issues and became sceptical of everything I heard. I would transform basic sentences I heard into the darkest of thoughts and mull over it for days. It wasn’t helping me think clearly and if anything, it fuelled my anxiety. I was determined to rewire my brain. To not overanalyse and dig deep into what someone said because sometimes there really is no deeper meaning other than the one who’ve constructed for yourself.
Furthermore, I was determined to detach myself from who this version of myself. I’ve changed, internally. I wasn’t the confident go-getter I once was when I started my degree in 2018. I felt like I had become more dependent on the good people in my life. I felt like a vine which entwined and grew around my friends. I was also burdened with the constant thought of people getting sick of me and leaving me. I haven’t been happy for a long time and I was scared that my sadness was too much for my friends to handle. I didn’t want to be pushed away so for the longest time, I put on the perfect charade: I tried my hardest to resemble who I used to be (even though I was breaking inside) and did so much for the people I cared about. I wanted them to understand that despite everything I was going through, I still prioritize you and I’d be willing to make you happy. I felt empty inside and seeing someone smile because of me made me feel alive.
I desired to turn the tables around, to refine how I thought and handled myself and my relationships. I took time to be on my own for a while. I ate well, rested well and gave myself a break from my usual routine. I’d check up on my friends every now and then, but I tried to take care of myself without anyone’s intervention. I sank into my hobbies of listening to music, making playlists, critiquing poetry and singing. I even stumbled across new areas of art which were learning new languages, storytelling, drawing, dancing (yes, TikTok inspired) and videography. I was glad that I was pursuing things for my own sake and not to make myself appear ‘perfect’ in anyone’s eyes or, as selfish as this might sound, not to make anyone happy. I felt like if I truly wanted to discover myself again, I needed to be at the centre of my life, not someone else. Taking care of myself was my new-founded goal and as evident by how things are going, my mind felt less hazy. I also noticed an added positivity in my communications. I felt like I was on a path to self-recovery.
So in short, my ambition is to take care of myself and grow before taking on the responsibility to strive for the common good of the community around me. If you ever need help, I’m here for you and in fact, I’ll still offer to help you steel through anything but all I’m saying is that I have to learn how to take care of myself better – just like the way I’ve been treating the people I care about in my life.