This year has proven itself to be extremely difficult on all fronts. The world is battling a pandemic, racial injustice remains unanswered, and political tension continues to rise as elections quickly approach. Having to watch it all unfold along behind a phone screen has a deep emotional toll that many aren’t able to realize. For me personally, I’ve been the most anxious and afraid than ever before, and I’m sure others are feeling the same way. Finding small comfort in the seemingly mundane things has been what keeps me grounded and hopeful for better days to come.
Entering the pandemic, I had no idea what to do with all of the newfound time on my hands. A new puppy, remote summer classes and binge-watching could only keep me distracted for so long. When the end of the day came with no distractions to offer, the fear and anxiety took precedence in my mind. Being an English and journalism major, reading and writing is a safe space for me. Over time, I had forgotten what it felt like to read and write for pleasure and not because I had to. Choosing to pick up a book I hadn’t yet read and deciding to write in my countless journals has been some of the best decisions I’ve made over the past few months.
One of my greatest helpers up to this point has been words. I’m a literature fiend, so reading novels and poetry that are able to give my mind a break from the chaos it experiences or transferring my overwhelming thoughts onto paper gives me doses of hope and comfort that have made all the difference in my mental health. I started off my quarantine with Glennon Doyle’s memoir “Untamed,” and I have found myself constantly going back to the paragraphs I highlighted in March knowing that if I was able to find comfort then, I can find comfort now. Whether it be writing my own poetry, reading poetry and new fiction novels or even storing Pinterest quotes in my camera roll, the personal comfort I find in appreciating the words of others and my own is unmatched.
Every single person is entirely unique and has their own way of coping through fear, grief and sadness. One of the most beautiful things that make us human are these individualities, and I truly believe that being able to rediscover what it is that brings you back to yourself can bring comfort to you amidst this time in history. Although I am constantly wishing for different circumstances, the world shutting down has given me the opportunity to rediscover my passions and what makes me happy on a daily basis. Harder days might come and glimmers of hope sometimes seem way too far from reach, but if we’re able to find that one thing that can keep us going, I believe we’ll grow from this difficult time with stories and inspiration to share once we’re on the other side of it.
Natalie Santos is a junior double majoring in English literature and journalism.
Featured graphic by Julia Sanbe and James Coccaro.