How has it been? I’ll go first.
Initially before COVID-19 came to Nigeria, I was earnestly praying for China, Italy and the other affected countries. I think I never actually saw it as a third world country virus, although I have no idea what informed that narrative, but it was just there, lingering at the back of my mind.
So you can now imagine my shock when cases were confirmed in Nigeria, after the Index case of the Italian man. Like, actual Nigerians- home-based Nigerians were contracting the virus. I remember having malaria at the time and the paranoia that came with it. Also, I had just attended the Lagos Social Media Week and had made physical contact with a lot of people.
I saw how my mom prayed for me at night, we all knew it was malaria according to the test results but that lingering, unspoken fear was still there. She would say “Good lord, let my child not have coronavirus”. I remember taking my drugs religiously. Previously, whenever I was sick, I’d wait for someone to beg me or cajole me, but not this time, lol. I forced myself to eat. I wanted to be healthy as soon as possible.
After a few days, I became perfectly fine. I remember waking up that morning and feeling so strong and healthy that I put on gospel songs and danced awkwardly without shame thanking God. Back to my normal self, I now had time to catch up on work and social media. That was the limbo phase when everyone was trying to get a grasp of what is going on. Should schools be shut down? What about markets? And Churches?
Now, living this new reality of isolation at home, I’ve been struggling daily to compartmentalize my feelings. I’ve been trying not to panic and trying to adjust to the impact this has on my business and that of everyone around me.
I joined Tiktok, which took away my panic and anxiety for some days but I soon grew tired of it, as it was a short-term remedy for a problem I refused to confront – my emotions.
The new phase for creatives and entrepreneurs is Instagram live series, learning a new skill, signing up for online courses, starting a YouTube series, launching a podcast, anything at all you can do online, as long as you don’t get left behind. For me, this has intensified the pressure.
So basically, I should just move on and act like some of my sources of income haven’t been ground to a halt? How am I supposed to put on a happy face and chirp about something on YouTube when inside I am completely scared and filled with anxiety. The News channels haven’t been of much help so I have decided to stay away from the news. I have started to read, half-opened books that I previously abandoned and it has worked like magic. Reading makes me feel as if I was mentally stepping away from everything and taking an adventure.
After I had completed the second book, I felt a peace that I haven’t felt since February. I took a pen and paper and wrote down what I was feeling and how reading has helped me cope. I felt even better. After that day, two things became clear to me; I am in control of how I experience the world, and I am the editor of my own stories in this world.
I feel much better. I no longer feel pressured to move or ride the current wave, I am at this place where I’ve found my rhythm. This is why I am writing this. As a creative, working from home has always been our thing, everyone else is just catching up.
How are you feeling? What are you doing? Resist the pressure to do something, to show that you’re above this especially if you are not. Read a book, watch some movies, listen to podcasts, sleep. Everything will fall into place gradually. Mind what you feed your mind with this period.
We’ll all be fine.