Dear before-lockdown self,
You are now just starting to hear more and more news about this Covid-19 virus. You are following the number of cases reported in the UK: the first two in a hotel in York, they landed a few days before from Wuhan. You looked at the tragic situation in Italy, your home country, as the number of new cases skyrocketed in a matter of days. You make sure your family is still feeling well. That your dad keeps safe while going to work. That your cousin, who works as a nurse, does not get too overwhelmed by full hospital beds and her empty apartment.
I am writing this letter to you, before you even heard the word 'lockdown', to warn you. Some horrific things are on the way. A year after the whole country locked themselves in their homes and panicked about the future; I am writing to you from the other side, when the light at the end of the tunnel is not yet near.
You are now too busy with your Master's, studies and, assignments to really think of the consequences this virus will bring to your life. Right now, all you are worrying about is the older people in your life: your dear little over-90 grandma, with all her health problems. Your only concern is about people dying from the virus. And they will. Over 2.5 million in the world. But this, sadly, does not cover half of the real aftermath.
You lead a busy life, made out of daily news reporting and feature-writing. Your weekends are packed with office work to pay rent and bills. You see your friends every now and then when you can find the time. But you know all of this.
What you don’t yet know is that all of that will be gone in a matter of days. What you don’t know, and it will take you a long time to adjust to, is the emptiness a day without schedule brings to your life and to your soul. You do not know how hard it is to get up from bed when no real commitment is there to jump-start your day.
You do not yet know the pain of losing a job you dedicated two years of your life to, because of the total shut down of the travel industry. You are yet to experience the rage against politicians delaying action that could have protected lives and saved jobs, like the one you had. The lame tune of the not-so-marry-go-round still has not yet made you feel like your days have lost meaning and colour.
You will have many doors shut on your face and rejection will become a daily companion, as you keep going on your blind search for a job during the second biggest economic recession of the century. You will feel all of your certainties crumble away like the inexorable passing of joyless time.
You now think you are blessed with intelligence and strength. But soon everyone you encounter will remind you that you are not good enough. You will try harder and harder every day to impose yourself in the profession you love, only to be harshly awakened by the impact of an indestructible cold wall that prevents you from ever moving forward.
Your life will be turned inside out and upside down in less than 365 days. And there will be nothing you can do about these changes. But this is okay. You will grow and learn to adapt. You will understand the real power in you: choosing to become better than yesterday’s version of yourself.
What is to come is a new perspective on life: finding unexplainable, uncontrollable joy in the little things. You will build your own projects from the ground up, with no help but so much pride. You will see your grandma shrugging off Covid with just a runny nose. You will get to hug your parents after months of cancelled flights home and social restrictions. And you will power through every dark day with the help of your loved ones.
This way, you will learn that it is okay to accept help, every now and then. Every helping hand will remind you that you are not alone and because you have so many people you can count on; you are tougher than before.
I now know, and you will learn in time, that something good is coming for you. But make sure you do not let the thought of the future obsess your every thought: you will learn to focus on what is good today, and today alone. Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories with a smile and a glass of wine because it will make the hard times feel a bit sweeter.
You didn’t know what was going to happen or exactly how you would cope with it. But most importantly trust – you will learn. Together we will go through the most tremendous and challenging time by keeping our head up and our heart open. And that in itself is a win-get the wine.