• Irene Chirita

isolation syndrome: embracing uncertainty | community


A few days ago, while on a call with a friend, I found myself putting her on speaker to disable my weekday alarm. While she was talking about her summer plans, I somehow didn’t find it necessary to plan at what time I should wake up anymore. My friends say, ‘you should think ahead’. I say, ‘I like not to’. It all shifted when I wasn’t expected to make plans anymore. No people to see, no places to go. The uncertainty put it all in perspective.


I take it day by day now, for my loved ones. And for myself. I now wake up feeling grateful for the smallest things, like the warming sun or the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen. Our insignificant routines are now reassuring. They mean we’re still alive.


It’s strange, because routine, and everything that meant I would live the same day every day, used to frustrate me. I used to look at the people I would cross paths with every day on the tube and think ‘it must be boring’. Yet, ironically, it did not occur to me that the only reason I encountered them every single day was only because my life wasn’t far different from theirs.


There I was a month ago: a 9 to 5 job 5 days a week, gym after work, and weekends at the same coffee shop with friends. Occasionally, a disappointing date. Or a nice one, turning into something disappointing a few days later. Point is, I knew what the next day would be like, and the following week, and sometimes even the next month. It’s funny how I would describe myself as a spontaneous person with the excuse of ‘travelling’ every month. In reality, I was systematically tricking myself into a routine, creating my own frustration. I was always a step ahead of my life without even noticing.


I now don’t know what tomorrow will be like because I don’t even know what day tomorrow is. Uncertainty gives me time to not decide, and let my mind run free. I now write because I feel like it and not because I have to. I can now start a 1,000 piece puzzle and finish it. I read 4 books at a time and don’t confuse the plots because my mind can . I now realise I knew how to be alone all along because I no longer put pressure on myself to be with someone.


My grandma likes to say, “you’ll always get what you’re most afraid of”. Most people fear uncertainty. The truth is our lives depend on it every day. We live for surprises, gasps, and anything new. We thrive on adrenaline. But now that we’re faced with this uncertainty of endless time, forcing us to alienate from one another and keeping our own mind company, can we handle it?


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