Lots of time, we may feel we are alone although we have our loved ones. We grieve in sadness alone, we read alone, we think alone, we think we are the only people in the world who understand who we are, and we feel lonely.
I am the kind of person, who likes to have a busy life at high speed. The busier my life is, the better I can handle it. Every day, I have these routines: 9 hours for my work (including the commute time), 1 hour for cooking, 30 mins for exercise, 30 mins for reading, 30 mins for piano playing. Every month I need to achieve several goals, including finishing reading a book, writing a blog, taking a new online course, and watching a new movie. I feel great about it and lots of things need in-person interactions. I love to interact with people by going to the office, the fitness class, the piano class, etc.
Recently, back in March this year, the whole company started to work from home due to the pandemic. I suddenly felt I got disconnected from my professional world. I could not go to the office; I couldn’t see my colleagues. My whole world is my home: my son and my husband. Although we have lots of facetime and virtual face-to-face meetings, I feel lonely as I lost that in-person touch. I realized that I need adjustment.
I had experienced a similar feeling 10 years ago: I came to Vancouver by myself in 2010. I only had one acquaintance in this country at that time. That person was my husband’s uncle. I had met him twice before moving to Vancouver.
10 years ago, the city was full of people, the vehicles were busy shuttling through on the street, I heard the planes’ fly-over sound, from far to near then disappear. However, I felt lonely, the first month; I was by myself. Every day I came home and closed the door; I had no friends in Canada. All my friends and family were on the other side of the world, which is 10,200+ km away.
My solitude feeling came back again during the pandemic. I have to do everything online, and every interaction is online. Lots of things changed because of COVID-19. The fitness club was closed. The piano school was closed. I could not invite my friends to my home anymore, neither could I go to their houses or go out hiking. The movie theatre is still closed. We even can not go to our favorite ramen restaurant. I don’t go grocery shopping anymore as I just order groceries online and have them delivered to my home, touchless. I felt upset. I wanted to do something to keep myself busy. I needed to grab the fulfilling life back, but I lost my momentum for a while.
However, a few scenarios started to appear, one after another. I slowly realized that I am not alone.
In the first scenario, one day, I chatted with a friend and I told her I wanted to take an online fitness class since my fitness club is closed and asked her if she would like to join in. She said, “Definitely, let’s have a fitness dance every day”. I was wondering, Can we keep dancing every day without seeing each other?
The second scenario: Another day my Bible study group leader announced in the group that we would read a book called “Purpose driven life”. My bible study group has been quiet for a while due to everyone’s busy schedule. It was great that our group came back to life again, and we can read one book together!
In the third scenario, my old friend in England reached out to me and asked me to join a ladies’ book club as she would like to group several friends who like to read together. I happily accepted. The members are in Europe, Asia, and North America, which are different time zones. To accommodate everyone’s schedule, I need to get up at 6:30 am on Saturday every month although I usually wake up at 10 am on weekends. But I still love the book club idea and I will change my schedule once a month!
In the fourth scenario, I am going to the 6th piano class, which has been switched to online. One and a half years ago, I started to learn the piano. At this moment, I have gone this far, from entry-level, medium level, advanced level then extended level 1 and 2; now I am going to take the extended level 3 next Saturday, which is the 6th class. The thing that makes me most proud of is that I started piano learning without any basic music knowledge. Last month, I played Marriage D’amour, the whole piece.
The fifth scenario, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is getting worse, lots of people lost their jobs. Lots of companies have reported big lay-off news, one after another. Till now, it is said 36.5 million American jobs were lost for 2 months, and 2 million Canadian jobs were lost in two months. Lots of professionals lost their professional momentum suddenly. Their career ambitions and their knowledge cannot be put anywhere after losing the job.
Then one day, I realized that I am not alone and you are not alone. What am I seeing from those scenarios?
In the first scenario, my friend and I have been sticking to the everyday fitness dance schedule, since March. I can stick to everyday’s online fitness dance because of her, and so does she. Every evening, we send a short message to each other, 10 mins before, to get prepared and get warmed up. I cannot imagine that I would dance every day without her accompaniment. My original plan was to have the fitness exercise 3 times a week.
In the second scenario, I thought I have not worked on my Christianity for a while. After the Bible study group reunited, we can read Christian books and share our learnings and feelings. After finishing the “Purpose driven life”, we continue the momentum and keep learning, sharing, and learning as a small group.
In the third scenario, after a quick introduction meeting for the lady’s book club, we crafted a schedule for the whole year. I am the first person who leads, but I feel that I am reading together with several of my friends, and not by myself anymore.
The fourth scenario: Although there are some students who dropped out from each piano class, almost half of them are staying, including me. We keep learning and marching on the piano journey together. Although there’s no expert in the piano learning group except our instructor, no one will laugh at anyone else, even when sometimes the homework we submitted was far beyond perfect. However, as long as we enjoy the journey, we are going to stick together as a group. This month, I proudly started my YouTube channel and uploaded most of my learned piano pieces to it. I know it’s going to be one of the permanent parts of my portfolio. I am looking forward to reviewing them, as time goes by, to see how far I have come.
The fifth scenario: Although lots of people‘s jobs got impacted during COVID-19, many people have quickly reunited together in supporting groups. People help each other with interview skills, resume writing, referral network expanding, and mock interviews. No one is alone during this pandemic impact; people are more united together to help each other to find the next dream career. People are volunteering to do resume reviews, job search strategies, and so on for those who need them. I feel I am seeing a beautiful rainbow rising above the cloudy sky and the magnificent positive ripple effects are spreading among professionals. The pandemic will end, but the friendship and fellowship built during this pandemic will last forever. We should remember that any difficulty will help us grow. I have grown and learnt a lot, like a warrior, from my previous challenging times. That’s where I am and why I became stronger today.
Now I am still in the state of Shelter in place most of my time, I am not feeling I am alone anymore, I hope you feel the same way; we are not alone. There are so many people we can reach out to and share part of our journey.
My mentor, who has accompanied me spiritually for 7+ years, always reminds me “Keep smiling”. I will 🙂