Why setting our narrative keeps us positive

There was a time, a million years ago in January 2020, when I thought the best way to get to know yourself and learn and develop as a person was through travel, and meeting new people, and having experiences outside of the world you know.

Now COVID-19 has me on lockdown in my own home, but I am still learning and developing. I have learned truths about myself in the past month that have been validating and illuminating and I’ve realised shortcomings that can no longer be hidden behind not having enough time. I’m a great future-thinker, and that skill has come in handy for successfully planning ahead, in a time when even a week can seem like too far away to imagine.

I’m big on learning through reading everything there is to know about a subject, and BOY has the internet come to the party. Every time I hit refresh there is a new article, or report, or opinion or argument around what is happening to us all, and I am soaking up the verified bits and scoffing at the rubbish bits like a pro.
I’m not fond of exercise, and in the past, I would blame my busy schedule away from home for my constant failure to reach 10 000 steps, but now I’m very sure it’s not that that’s keeping me from enthusiastically jogging on the spot on my astroturf. These are the joys of self-discovery.

There are also the not-so-joyous parts. Realising new triggers for anxiety, and acknowledging that I am anxious in the first place. Earlier this month I Googled the symptom of having a tight chest all the time and the first result that came up was ‘is my tight chest COVID-19 or anxiety?’ which made me feel better almost immediately, proving that it was the latter… and that I was not alone in feeling this way. Then a friend told me she had a tight chest too and it was such a relief, everything is easier when you know you aren’t crazy or alone… or that at least if you are crazy, you’re in good company.

Then there have been the unexpected parts. I wrote in my last column Why living in interesting times is a blessing and a curse, “I have a choice; I can focus on my family only and show my children that in a crisis we look in, or I can show them through my actions that we always have the option to be kind, to help those who have less than us, to lead by example and in these interesting times, set the narrative as the story unfolds.”

As I check in now — in a time where you can separate your fashion into ‘day-pajamas’ and ‘night-pajamas’, where I vacillate between periods of calm and periods of sheer panic with my children’s remote learning schedules — even in the moments of anxiety and self discovery, we have tried to set our narrative as the story unfolds. We have been kind to each other and ourselves. We have helped those who are struggling as much as we can, and consequently felt more empowered. We have maintained an attitude of positivity, resigned to the fact that some things are out of our control and we have worked every day to learn and develop ourselves.

I have posted our daily antics onto my personal Instagram page each night so that at the end of all this, we can see how much we accomplished without leaving the house. It’s already so inspiring to look back and see what we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do. And I’m grateful as I recognise how much normality my privilege affords me.
Celebrate each day that you successfully navigate through this time, and be kind to yourself on the days that you don’t, and be kind to everyone else always.

Stay safe and #stayhome.

By Lindy Diamond, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle

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