It’s late evening, my second cup of coffee finished, and I stare out the window at lights my neighbours have hung. I see people wrapped up in their jackets as the winds begin to turn cold and the leaves turn yellow, gold, and brown. This is my favourite time of year.
I’m not only thinking about the end of the season and what’s to come this new year but also the end of a socially distanced life, which version of me will arise from this quarantine?
It has been nine months since I’ve been confined to my home and the world encaptured in a pandemic.
Ever since the beginning, I’ve been most constant on my phone, swiping through new movies, fresh recipes and vivid writings. And I would be lying if I say it doesn’t intimidate me. Instead, it’s just making me more despair and unfit to be in the costume of a writer. I have significantly transposed from penning down my honest thoughts to writing for those extra likes on my post. I keep stumbling into other writers, artists, and creatives who seem to be struggling with the same block.
How do you keep your creativity constant when the world is both still but yet, changing so much? Nurturing creative life amidst a pandemic has been the most baffling as none of these months has been alike. And the next nine months will be vastly different from the previous nine.
Why? Because I have changed.
Biographer of Ernest Hemingway once remarked: “The greatest character he has ever made was his self.” It made me sad when I first read that. What a depressing notion, I thought. This man who had written so many prominent characters did not even know who he was—what a great example of losing your soul to gain the whole world.
Our most eloquent work, I believe, comes from curiosity about us and the world around us. The more curious you are, the more creative you can be. And when we hold on to these set notions of identity, we kill our capacity for what could be.
Why share all this now?
At the very beginning of the pandemic, my friend posed a question: “What role is required of you right now?”
As an actor, she understands all the roles we play and costumes thrown to hide a deeper identity.
When we recognise our roles, we can serve in a way where our egos don’t interfere. We don’t have to take ourselves so damn seriously all the time. I can be a better friend, daughter and a better learner. I can be a more acceptable writer and allow myself to take more risks and try new things. For there will be nothing to protect, reject, or criticise and misunderstandings start to feel a little silly.
When you realise “you” are just a character you have played, then you can play the role better and have more fun with it. When others see you doing that, they can’t help but be drawn into your orbit.
And if you find the costume you’re wearing no longer fits, you are free to change the character. You can create a whole new you if you’d like. When the story you want to write with your life no longer fits into the one you’re living, it’s time to change it. Just remember: whatever new identity you assume is simply another role to play.
So to answer my friend: No, I am not the me I was a year ago. But I am becoming more of myself than I have ever been. And a year from now, I hope to be unrecognisable yet again—to you and me. Because that can mean only one thing: I’m growing.
Written by Ridhima Sharma for MTTN
Edited by Kriti Gopal for MTTN
Featured Image by Davidostudio
Artwork by Ingrid tan