I don’t know why I do it. I find myself here, every day, scrolling through my photos trying to find a kind word. I’m not exactly Queen of the Socials, so I’m not sure what I’m expecting to find, but I just want someone to validate me. Is that sad?
We’ve been stuck indoors for three weeks now, and I don’t really know when it will end. I’ve eaten all my snacks and drank all the wine and walked the length of my garden way too many times. Living at home hasn’t been a breeze; Mum’s not taking it seriously, which is pissing me off. Dad’s taking it too seriously, which is pissing me off. I should be at Uni right now, handing in my final assignments and looking forward to a massive blow out with my friends in the sticky floored club. Not this. This wasn’t in the plan. Obviously assignments are still being handed in, but what I wouldn’t give for a bit of pub garden time with my housemates.
My phone buzzes, giving me yet another excuse to ignore my coursework and settle down on the bed. It’s the group chat. Always the group chat.
Olivia: Gone mad yet?
Me: Just about, you?
Kirsten: I’m actually really enjoying it
Kirsten: My parents have brought us up to the Peak District to wait this shit out
Kirsten: Loads of stuff to do here to be ‘socially distant’
Liberty: Don’t think that’s really the point K, nbf…
I chuck it back down before the inevitable argument. Lib’s stirring the pot again, but Kirsten doesn’t help herself. She was so obviously stinking rich when we all moved in – the shiny Lambo in the car park gave it away before we even met. My phone buzzes again.
Olivia: OMG Kate, saw your latest Insta (five fire emojis)
Kirsten: Yaaaaaaaaaas so cute
It’s been 4 hours since I uploaded my selfie. I’ve got 18 likes so far. I’m entirely self aware now. I wasn’t this way before uni started. I know that. But who doesn’t go under a transformation when they start uni? Find themselves, you know? Being home has made me realise how much I’ve changed in the last few months.
My old band hoodies have been shoved to the back of the closet – I can’t imagine what the girls would think if they saw me in one of them. Oversized skate shoes have been swapped for delicate ballet pumps and I only wear black eyeliner as part of the full orchestra, now. I don’t know if I’m really any happier, like this, though.
I make my excuses to the girls, and dig in the back of the cupboard, pulling out the old me. A box of photos comes tumbling out, of a girl I barely recognise. Quiet, shy and music loving; but not me. I’m not entirely sure that I know who I am at all, to be honest. And with everything that’s been going on, I’ve been feeling even shitter about myself.
My laptop pings, and I check the email from my tutor. It’s about keeping well, assignment deadlines, not forgetting where she is blah blah. Then, down the bottom, she’s linked to a Youtube channel.
“Hope this will help some of you out – it’s definitely been my savior so far!”
I click the link and a serene studio pops up out of nowhere, soft whites and blues. Yoga for Beginners. I go to click off it – this deffo isn’t my thing, but then something stops me. It can’t hurt to watch a bit, right?
Before I know it, I’m back bending while craning my neck to see the screen. I hadn’t realised until now, but I am super tense at the moment. I hear my phone buzz from across the room and my instinct is to jump up and get it. But for some reason, my body holds me here, in this moment. The gentle music and calming voice talks me through an entire practice, and I’ve never felt more at peace.
I’ve used #selfcaresunday so many times, but it’s usually just for the gram. Mum’s sick of me staining the bath with bath bombs, so I haven’t bothered for a while. But right now, I feel so rested. So calm.
I get up and stretch out, reaching back into the cupboard to pull out my guitar. I’ve not played since I left for university, but right now something is drawing me to it. I begin cautiously, not sure what my fingers can remember, but I needn’t worry. It’s all in there. It’s a part of me.
I play for hours, hearing my parents come upstairs and think better of disturbing me. I’ve not looked at my phone since I chucked it down earlier. God knows when I last did that. Dancing through each melody, my fingers become more confident and a new part of me begins to surface. She’s not wearing thick black eyeliner, or posing half nude for a selfie. She’s happy. She’s content. She’s free.
I’ve been isolated from my friends for what feels like forever, but it’s only just dawning on me now that I’ve isolated myself from everything. From my past, from who I am.
Grabbing my phone, I message the girls:
Taking a bit of a detox girls. Will message you soon, promise x
They won’t be happy, but I don’t give them a chance to be. I delete all my socials, and switch my phone off, placing it inside my bedside drawer. Perhaps now is a good a time as any to make myself happy. Clean slate; no expectations, just find out where I go from here.
I feel switched off for the first time in months. The silence is overwhelming, but it’s gentle, and inviting. I breathe deeply – this is where it begins.
A short story a day, throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic. By me, for you.