While respiratory issues and potential death were two of the more severe physical symptoms of Covid-19, as the pandemic dragged on, it seemed like there was a mental-related symptom that arose from this whole episode – loneliness. And as someone who went through a two-month lockdown with my family of six before moving out to an apartment with two friends the following month, even I wasn’t excluded from that. There's something about the end of the world that leads you to confront the worst of your fears.

As a long-time singleton who chose to lean out of love after a toxic four-year relationship, I found myself in a slight panic. After years of learning to be okay on my own, was I also going to die… alone?

While I've never really had an aversion to solitude, learning to suddenly adjust to being by myself without my family around 24/7 was something that I had to adapt to. Throw in #adulting and loved-up housemates, and you're almost ready to throw in the towel and succumb to the first person who swipes right on you!

It almost seemed like singlehood, and not the pandemic, was about to be the biggest threat to my mental health. But as I witnessed myself and many others struggle to adapt to the new situations that Covid-19 had caused – working from home being the biggest stressor of them all – I started to practise more gratitude towards being a party-of-one during the pandemic, and here’s why.

A Sanctuary To Call My Own

Call it accelerated living, but quarantining with a partner ended up being a litmus test for so many couples and the strength of their relationship. Either the close living quarters would cause them to break up, or it quickly forces both parties to see if they can find a healthy compromise in learning to live with the habits of their partner.

As someone who's living with a couple, I've had a front-row seat to witnessing the unique issues that come with living together with someone for the first time. Sure, there are times when it can be hard to control your own feelings of loneliness and insecurity when you see them do loved-up couple-y things. But then I see them bicker about small things like the aesthetics of their room or try to escape each other due to the lack of privacy and space (both metaphorically and physically), and I’m reminded that sometimes, being alone isn't so bad after all. Especially after my housemate told me that her husband disrupted her nice, girly night in and farted up a storm that even her Diptyque candle couldn't overpower. Yeah, male flatulence is really something that I don’t miss!

As I settle into my personal space that might not be as lavishly decorated as I’d like it to be, I’m reminded that every element in my room has been chosen by me. The air-conditioner temperature and lighting are exactly how I want them to be, and my bed, in its full glory of soft sheets and an overload of pillows, is just pure perfection and a great representation of how I’d like to sleep every single night! And as someone who was living in an overcrowded house for years and had to share a room with two other people, this sanctuary that’s completely my own was a long-overdue reward and a haven that I’d been looking forward to for years.

Self-care = Learning To Put Myself First

Regardless of what your situation is like, going through a pandemic is a weird thing for everyone – and it continues to be. As I lost my job and wrestled with an existential crisis, I found out that the time away from people and the noise helped me to adjust a lot better. I had all the time in the world to sit and ruminate with my thoughts. While these thoughts made me feel both positive and negative feelings about myself, it was necessary for me to go through each and every one of them.

As I chose to isolate myself and spend time trying to do the things that made me feel like me again, I relished in the fact that I didn't have anyone to answer to. While you can probably go through the same process with a partner, knowing my personality, I’d have some lingering guilt on neglecting my partner as I was battling an internal crisis. And what’s worse: you might end up unintentionally hurting them as well if you excluded them from knowing exactly how you feel.

Teaching Myself That While I Might Be Alone, I'm Never Lonely

With borders, bars and clubs still closed, and no social engagements and functions to attend, it seems like many people have turned to dating to occupy their time. Due to the aforementioned reasons above, if I hadn't liked dating before, I repelled it even more so now. I hated the idea of meeting someone new just to cure boredom or allowing someone new into my space. After all, I have all the time in the world to find a partner, so why not enjoy being single and happy for as long as I can for now?

I might not have found "The One" yet (if you even believe in that concept), and maybe, on some level, I have to deal with never ever finding him. But what I can say is that I have many "The Ones" in the incredible support system that I've managed to build up over the years to fall back on. My family, who has been there for me no matter what; my best friend who sends me voice notes that leave me in stitches; a bevy of close friends that I can talk to about almost anything; my housemates who never fail to listen to me jabber on about my day. These are all of my "The Ones", the people I turn to when things start to feel like sh*t, but also the same ones I celebrate life with.

Text: Cheryl Chan
Featured image:
George Milton/Pexels

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