BE YOU / Ami Ichishima

It was a sudden pause. Just like pausing the music you were listening to. It was not our choice, but we were forced to pause everyday life. Since then, our lifestyles have changed completely. All we heard from the media was the way of combating infections, the number of infected people, and the voices of those who suffer during these times. We never knew when our normal life would come back, and unfortunately, we still don’t know. It was the first time I felt the smallness of human beings because we could not control the earth but were controlled by it. At that time, I was about to become a senior. Before I became a senior, I was thinking of doing everything I missed in the past three years, such as taking viola lessons and traveling abroad and within Japan. Unfortunately, I don’t know when those things will become normal again. In addition to everything I was eager to try this year, many other ones got changed and canceled. Soon my schedule became empty because we were not encouraged to go out unless it was essential. The cafe I worked for decided to close for two months. Job interviews moved online. I was stuck at home with my family, patiently waiting for the day the “normal” would be back.

Since I entered university, I was lucky enough to have many opportunities to try new things with various people. That made my days filled with classes at school, three different kinds of part-time jobs, playing the viola as a member of Sophia Philharmonic Orchestra, and volunteering to teach English to junior high school students every summer. I only went home to get some sleep. And when it hit the latter half of my junior year, job hunting joined my life. I can now recall those days and say it was chaos. I woke up at four, worked for five hours, had lunch, had two classes, wrote a resume for a company to apply for an internship, finally started the orchestra practice at 5:30 and ended at 9:30. It was near 11 o’clock when I got home, and the next day I had 1st period at 9:00. I honestly don’t know how I handled that craziness. Even though I could do everything I wanted, my life was under the wire, and I didn’t notice, of course. It had already become my routine. I enjoyed and cherished those days so much, never being scared or anxious.

When my normal life stopped, I realized that I took my health for granted and always cared about things around me but never cared about my body and heart. My energy disappeared, which made me care about what was inside me instead of focusing on things around me. I began to realize the importance of self-love and self-care. I was empowered by people who sent their messages through SNS or books during the quarantine. The first thing I learned was how I like to care about my body. I was not the kind of person who exercised regularly and instead sat all day to study and practice the viola. Therefore, I didn’t have a habit of exercising and overlooked its importance. I do not remember the first time I got interested in yoga, but I somehow reached one video by a yoga instructor, which led me to try it. I like its philosophy, especially the basic idea of yoga, Taru wo Shiru- knowing I have already enough and being grateful for that. Yoga became the thing that satisfied me mentally and physically. The second one was the mindset of thinking about unclear or unknown things. When every single “normal” thing was gone, and everything became uncertain because of the virus, I felt fear at first. It was normal that things went as planned, and I liked it that way. I was not used to the situation where my near future was not clear. However, I suddenly noticed that life does not usually go as planned. There are many times when we cannot see our future. Life is a series of unexpected things, and I have to admit that.  Spending all day at home was sometimes hard, but I could face my future by job hunting. I came to think that I should decide what to do without thinking too much about what has to be done. Also, writing a journal in the morning helped me a lot. This allowed me to organize ideas and clear my mind. Then I made it a routine that I would write a to-do list each day. It taught me that sometimes I could do as I wanted to, but not always. The most important thing here is that I know how much I have done and what else I need to do. It doesn’t matter whether I could finish all the things I wanted to. 

If I keep thinking and not doing anything, I am not moving forward, which makes me feel more down and eventually leads to a negative spiral. Therefore, whether it is right or wrong, suitable for me or not, I have started to do it and see what will happen. We never know the future ahead, so why do I want to stay in the same place and mourn the negative thoughts? I felt scared to handle the unknown at first, but now I can say all I need to do is admit that life is a series of unknowns, and I will only think of how I learn and enjoy from them each time I face difficulty. 

Looking back at the year 2020, I have many different kinds of feelings. I was scared, confused, and sad to see all the news about the pandemic. However, I somehow found ways not to be controlled by fear, got used to a new lifestyle, and became creative. I found ways to make myself happy as time went by. I now know how I can handle myself when I’m down or do not know where to go. Exercise and these new mindsets have taught me how I can become a new me. I was too busy with tasks that were my roles and duties before the pandemic, but the experience of quarantine made me create days on my own. And most importantly, if I am caring for my own body and soul to do my best to lead my everyday life, that is all that matters. I never knew how I would be at the end of this year, but I am so grateful that I had so much time focusing on myself. I’ll always keep telling myself that you create you. You can become whatever you want to be as long as you listen to your heart no matter what circumstance you are put in and appreciate and take good care of your body because your soul needs your body to explore the world.

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