Congratulations Sarah Walsh the winner in the 12+ section
Sarah received a €50 voucher for this essay
Self-Isolation vs Self-Reflection
To use this period of self-isolation, where time has quite abruptly stood still, to sit back and over-analyse the increasing cases of Covid-19 nationally and internationally or to reap the benefits of this new predicament, that is the question. ‘Not all storms come to disrupt your path. Some come to clear your path’ (Unknown). The path I have found myself racing through seems to blatantly disregard the journey and instead focus on the ultimate destination being my future, presuming I live to see that day. It has only been with this apparent ‘extra time’ I have been blessed with that I have begun to rethink my life goals and with that my current outlook on life. In a moment of global weakness where the lives of many are devastatingly threatened, I decided it would be constructive for me to self-reflect on the life I am grateful to have and will continue to cherish.
The past twenty days have been heavy with news and regulations being thrown in our way, stopping us in our tracks. The weight of these unprecedented times has dragged myself and my mental health down due to the limitations of loneliness. For the population of Ireland and other countries alike self-isolation is required if we plan on tackling the virus head on. My own self-isolation has been within the walls of my humble home which appear to be playing tricks on me as they confine me even further with each day that swiftly passes by. The self-reflection that I have been undergoing has allowed me to ponder the decisions I have made, the people I have befriended and most importantly the happiness I have felt. The pace at which I raced through life with the focal point of achieving my dream of attending college has been my biggest downfall. A flaw that, if ignored, could prove fatal. Another self-destructive downfall I acknowledged when I took a step back to reflect was my lack of reflection.
The devious virus came upon us like a sly fox, even with all the notice and news aired on the topic. The people of Ireland seemed unphased by the dilemma which would soon knock them off course. We, as a country, waited for the announcement of regulations and even when they came, we still huddled with others in search of comfort and companionship. Personally, I found myself lost, clinging on to my friends’ texts for an ounce of emotional support. What is my focus in life? That’s the question I decided to put to myself as I relived my entire secondary school experience again in my mind. Rushed, the entire experience aimed at securing a position in college.
I had been ready for the next significant step in my life, at least I made myself believe I was. The excitement darted through my blood, supplying me with the hunger and drive to research every college course imaginable. I engrossed myself in YouTube videos posted by college students, I followed different colleges’ social media accounts and I spent considerable chunks of time on Qualifax. For me, I imagined I was already there. There was not even an inch of sentiment holding me back, nothing to ambush me into staying at home or even in the sunny south east of Wexford at that. As far away as possible, at first America was in my sights, then Sligo appeared more attainable. Until I stepped foot on the Limerick Institute of Technology campus, I never knew the feeling of belonging, it was where I pictured myself studying in September. The lecturers, the students and even the sports facilities beckoned me. That day-visit to Limerick Institute of Technology was the day I planned out the next 4 years of my life, wishing I was already there.
Then back to the sombre reality, back to secondary school, a place that I viewed as just a meagre stepping-stone to college. Of no real importance, of little excitement. I always joked about dropping out of school, never with any substance to back it up. Never in my entire life did I think my secondary school would drop out on me. The news rattled my veins as the college place I imagined myself being awarded with appeared to vanish before my very own eyes. On the outside, I decided to depict a stature of relief as all my friends were thrilled to be leaving this place behind. I motioned in agreement, collected all my schoolbooks and left with no insight into when or if I would be returning. Twenty days later and I want to go back, I miss my insubstantial stepping-stone. Twenty days away from school, twenty solitary days where I haven’t left the comfort of my home. Apart from going for a jog on the road to clear my mind of the work being flung my way from teachers who hastily adapted to the online system. Unfortunately, my adjustment has not manifested as notably as theirs, I have found myself zoning out during online classes and falling behind with the assigned work.
Turning this tragic change in lifestyle into a positive has been my mission, my self-isolation has brought with it a life changing amount of reflection. I am now more appreciative of the present instead of focusing on my longing for an untarnished future. I will not dwell on the past, a time where no virus stood between people and their goals. Instead I will live in the moment, enjoy this valuable time I have been granted to spend with my close family unit. Instead I will stop searching for happiness through achieving goals but rather chose to be happy day in and day out. As the saying goes, ‘What is for you, will not pass you’. My destiny is unknown, my future is unclear, change happens whether we like it or not and it is how we allow these changes to impact us defines who we are. Self-reflection has been a contributing factor to my own happiness and to the level of self-satisfaction I feel in my current situation.
By Sarah Walsh