Can we rediscover ourselves during times of crisis

Story by Riya Mishra

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of the mind.”

This made more sense to me when I rediscovered myself, and this rediscovery was a revolutionary change as it quintessentially defined who I am!

I am a literature student and my world quite literally revolves around Reading and writing. I generally spend most of my time doing things that are quite enriching and make me productive in some way or the other. I am a firm believer in not doing anything just for the sake of it, but instead doing them because they make me feel good and not emotionally, mentally drained.

Adding to my already existing anxiety issues, I was quite apprehensive about the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Worries regarding how my day/schedule would fall into place would often trigger me at unexpected points in time. Staying at home and not going anywhere, not being able to see friends frequently was not something that bothered me at all, what bothered me was lack of schedule. Everyone at home and their pandemic restlessness and anxiety conspicuously added to my issues and as a result, my mental health was slowly getting affected.

The feeling of being locked inside the home was something I can't describe in words, the emotion can only be felt. Lack of a basic schedule as before undoubtedly added a lot to my anxiety, and the damage was severally increasing with each passing day. This increasing anxiety made days even worse and the added pressure of the lockdown anxiety made me a more secluded and a dejected person from my family at large.

The will to distract me and get back to my schedule was firm and that's when I decided to volunteer for an organisation. Along with that, I started learning Mithila painting, more commonly known as Madhubani painting. Originally belonging from Bihar, the urge to learn a native art form was quite pertinent and seemed a better way to make quarantine more productive and taxing.

Everyone has their ways of tackling anxiety. I started my day by preparing a to-do list and trying to complete the designated tasks before the next day begins. My schedules were never time-bound and that gave me a sense of comfort in not having a stifling routine but at the same time feeling a certain some sense of productivity ones the tasks on my list were complete. Some days were inherently difficult, and on those days all I did was getting up, brushing my teeth and eating, and indeed such were the days, I felt the most accomplished.

To deal with my anxiety, I try to not overwhelm myself with a lot of things.

Most of the time, it's only me who is demanding an obnoxious amount of productivity from myself, which sets me up for failure long before I even start. But during the lockdown, I dwelled and developed a sense of belonging to myself and it was then I rediscovered my true self and came up with ways to contain my anxiety within, creating an almost perfect equilibrium between productivity that is desired and expected from Riya as a person.

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