I am privileged.
I live in a beautiful apartment, with beautiful furniture, and a beautiful view. I know how to cook good food, and I have technology that allows me to listen to good music and watch good films.
I am privileged.
But, despite that privilege, I feel lonely. That loneliness makes me feel guilt, and that guilt makes me mad. So, here I am, in my beautiful home—lonely, guilty, and mad. It’s hard to let myself feel that, to accept that it probably isn’t going to change any time soon. Everyday, I struggle to validate my own feelings, but still end up fighting with myself to recognize how lucky I am.
I feel pretentious even writing this. Why should anyone care about my struggles when we are in the middle of a global pandemic? The world is coming to a standstill and here I am, grappling with the same inner turmoil that has always plagued me.
The difference is that now I can’t get away from it. I can’t throw myself into one of my many jobs; I can’t distract myself by planning a conference, or working in the SUB and waiting for someone to sit at my table and talk to me until I forget how bad I feel.
I am alone in my apartment, calling every friend I have and hoping that they haven’t gotten sick of me yet. Alone in my apartment, analyzing every conversation I have to make sure that my level of sadness and panic is on the same level as everyone else’s. Chastising myself when it isn’t.
One day, I am terrified, fearful of leaving my room and frustrated with those who do. The next day, I am starved for connection, and anxious to get outside, looking for any opportunity to see another person (from a distance) and remember that I am not alone.
Right now, there isn’t much that I can do to change my situation. I keep myself busy as best I can: painting, writing, and planning what I will do when this is all over.
The only thing that really helps is recognizing that we are all united through this isolation, and trudging through this unknown together. A shared experience such as this is so rare, and I often wonder how we will remember this after the fact.
Will we exacerbate our experience upon retelling? Or discredit our ordeal, belittling the loneliness that once seemed interminable?
Either way, writing this on my sixteenth day of social distancing, I can’t negate the loneliness I feel in this moment.