Decompression: Why self-reflection is important in 2020

By Max Vigue

Multimedia Content Editor

During the course of the pandemic, many students were isolated from the outside world. As our society fell into social and economic shambles, our whole situation changed. It would take over nearly four months before the citizens of Pennsylvania (PA)  were allowed to exit their homes. 

While I was stuck in isolation, I felt as if almost if I was in limbo. I’m used to the feeling of loneliness, even within large masses of people I always felt ignored; but that never typically bothered me. In fact I like to view my mind as a sanctuary, where I could ponder complex concepts, create alternate worlds, and conceive endless ideas without the bounds of the physical world. I feel a sort of bliss when I lose myself within my inner consciousness.  

Life isn’t always on one side of the spectrum, the pendulum swings back and forth. Swinging back out of my mind, cascading into a bittersweet reality, 2020 is a year that will go down in history as the year in hell.  Increasing cases and death, uproar against injustice in the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbey. 

The momentum quickly turned into a front for chaos, and politicians continued to further the chasm between discussion and unintentional comedy as evident by laughable tweets, and debates turning into kindergarten level arguments.   

The events transpiring seemed like the plot points in a novel, spiraling toward a calamity of a climax. Even if I was just a bystander on the sidelines of 2020, I felt a wave of anxiety, stress, and paranoia crash down on me. It was a ripple effect that I could tell was spreading across the pond of social media.  My entire feed was covered in the most current events, headlines of depressing tragedies popping up one after another. I needed a break from reality, escapism was the only route I could think of. 

Then I realized, in the greater scheme of everything, the issues of one year will not hinder the progress of humanity in the long-run. If anything I should be grateful for the time I’ve been given, I can allow myself to think. I can pursue goals I wouldn’t normally be able to do. Even in a stress inducing world, with threats still not yet fully realized. I still had time on my hands, with this, I could come out of this different, not just in skill ability from where I started before the pandemic. 

But, also being smarter because of all the hours I poured into reading, or even being closer with my family. 

At that very moment, I realized I could come out as a different person, because when I  have so much time on my hands. I don’t always have to put my brain to work. I realized the importance of looking back, and examining the inner workings of my thoughts. Sailing down my stream of thought, running down the flowing of discourse of a thousand different ideas. I eventually came to the realization that the endgame of this quarantine is not to come out improved on the physical level. But to be revalued and come out stronger, level-headed, and sturdy on the mental level. 

In the short span of around six months I feel like a completely different person. Of course I’m always going to maintain a consistent character, but now my headspace has been reset. I’ve diverted my efforts to areas where I feel they are important, and ultimately just readjusting. Especially with the world we live in nowadays, we have to change and adapt to the ever changing climate.  

Like many others, every day I go through the motions of life, with energy varying depending on how I feel. And when I get a break all I worry about is recharging this energy and building up my stamina to this demanding world. When people actually have time to themselves, we’re always wasting away with entertainment. The only time I give my mind a break to let loose is when I’m in the trenches of the deep ocean of REM sleep. When do we ever decide to let our minds off the shackles of consciousness?

Where and when can we just rewind our memories, and ponder what those experiences gave us. Every few hours of every day, I would take some time off my normal routines to just relax and let my mind run. I looked back on what happened into my past, looping different events, breaking down the details of every little aspect. Sometimes I would replay those same events and run them through an alternate ending like some kind of choose-your-own-story game. 

While this pandemic has been one of the most trying times in our history.  In the end, we live in a sink or swim world where we need to take any chance we can to better ourselves. And mental health is a very important aspect that tends to get overlooked. In the worst circumstances, sometimes we gotta make the best out of our environment. And sometimes this means letting loose and letting your mind out of the cage.

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