The Importance of Permission

Hi Everyone! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these continued painful times. I am immensely thankful that I and my loved ones have managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic. While things might be looking up for the US and Europe, other parts of the world, like India, are continuing to suffer immensely from the COVID-19 pandemic. This thought weighs on me as I talk about my own journey below.

I have been fully vaccinated. My partner is in between his vaccinations. My family are all fully vaccinated. Typing these words and reading these words give me an immense sigh of relief and they do give me hope for the future. Regardless of how the rest of the world is faring, it’s hard to not feel optimistic at times with this news. I know that my family will be safe from this virus – and I know that I too will be as well. And now, things go back to normal, right? I can go outside without a mask on. I can dine both indoors and outdoors and not worry. I can hop on a plane and travel to Europe now. So we just carry on and look forward.

That would be the easy thing to do. That’s what I would normally do. I made it through a bad time and now it’s better. It didn’t leave a lasting impact on me. I could not be more wrong.

I was traumatized by what I went through since the pandemic started. I will never forget where I was when shelter-in-place was ordered for the Bay Area (getting gas in my car with the radio on). I will never forget the first time I went into the grocery store and saw all the masks, social distancing, cleaning and low supplies on the shelves. I’ll never forget seeing the freeways go from bumper-to-bumper traffic to empty. Or the silence outside my window as the planes that flew into San Jose Airport were grounded. But I will also never forget the endless hours I spent in my apartment, locked away from the world. Watching the world unravel through the pandemic and civil unrest plus an election and insurrection that I would just as soon forget if I could. I felt trapped. I felt suffocated. Terrified. Alone. Exhausted.

On top of all that, I still had a job to do. And while it was cathartic to work with amazing and kind people virtually, I had never felt more alone. I live with my partner and we have spent some amazing time together. But I felt like I was in a void. My pain and depression acting as a shell, preventing me from moving forward. And while I talked about it with my therapist, I was still preventing myself from really feeling it – and more importantly acknowledging it. But then, over time, things started to change. But the change wasn’t some new internet hack or way of thinking that magically manifested itself via Instagram. It was a slow evolution. I realized that I had given myself permission to not be ok and I had given myself permission to make myself better.

When I did this, it opened me up to a slow realization that I am worth it. My needs and wants are critical to my happiness. Dreams to be a writer or be a pilot were no longer something for me to scoff at. They are in my grasp. The permission for me to quit my job and put my career “on hold” while I recover and discover what comes next. These are all things that I don’t think I would have done if the pandemic hadn’t thrown a proverbial wrench into all of our lives. And through it, the trauma and the pain, I have a more authentic view of who I am and who I want to be.

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