Iso-Nation: Navigating the World of Isolation

Words by Nicole, 25 VIC

Welcome to iso-nation, the adventures of an already-introverted 25-year-old in lockdown.

Two and a half weeks into isolation, I began to feel the trepidations of being stuck between four white walls plastered with artsy posters from Frankie and prints from art markets.  The smell of freshly baked orange cake out of the oven lingers for the whole day; just one example of the little things that I have never taken the time to properly notice. I have explored the possibilities of what can be done when I have time to do whatever I could possibly want…

But, it has also been hard. Really hard. Amongst the turmoil and the rapids, my iso-nation expedition has taught me a few important lessons which I would like to share with you all:

Your crew will keep you afloat

If you were navigating the sea, who would you want to be a part of your crew? Who could you last days-on-end with, and who would help you make the most of unprecedented situations?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve learnt more about community than ever before. I’ve learnt that you get to create your community, and a community isn’t a fixed place, but a feeling of connection. My community is sewn together by a large group of inspired young people who care so much for each other. Regardless of the state of our youth programs, we will all carry on using what we’ve learnt to create that same sense of acceptance, care and hope in whatever space needs it most. Whilst many questions still remain unanswered, the one thing I know for sure is that regardless of what happens to my community, it goes so much further beyond the physical space.
I have felt the need to lean on others to help keep me afloat during the past few weeks, and my community has played the biggest role in doing that.

Do not hoard onboard 

Risoni, anyone? Gluten-free penne? No? Well then, go home.

As I emerge into the supermarket, I can’t help but feel like an ungraceful ballerina, gliding cautiously and unsophisticatedly through the aisles as I dodge any and every living and breathing human being in sight. A cough heard in the distance rings like the fire drill alarm at high school, cautioning me to not step any closer, or to do so at my own risk. The shelves that are often covered in bursts of colours look like the bones of a skeleton; bare and sombre. I can’t help but think of the people in our community who live pay check-to-pay check, and then those, like pirates stocking up on loot, or in our case, what became a valuable commodity called toilet paper. It is important to think of others during this time. Don’t be a pirate.

The waves will change course, but that’s okay

The rapid progression of this pandemic has completely caught me off guard. At first, I was tense, grasping on the ship’s wheel for dear life, hoping my path wouldn’t be disrupted. Yet, sometimes a change of pace or direction is exactly what we need to learn about ourselves. Since my path has been shifted, I have learnt a lot about myself. I actually enjoy cooking more than I thought I did, my work gives me lots of purpose and when it is taken away from me I feel a bit lost, and even when my self-allocated bed time is taken away from me, I’ll still be in bed before 10:30pm because I am a routine-kinda-gal. Whilst the waves have carried me in a different direction I’m grateful they’ve led me somewhere unexpected, to a place I can grow.

Oh Captain, My Captain

I’ve had lot of time to feel gratitude towards the leaders in our society who have put so many others before themselves during this time. Nurses and doctors working hours on end, with dark bags under their eyes that carry the load of a nation. The incredible teachers who are working through their holidays to modernise what a ‘safe space’ looks like for young people during this time. It’s the neighbouring Prime Ministers who approach their leadership with empathy and strength that remind me that seas do not divide people during this time. We have a lot to learn from those we do not normally connect with. It is through learning from one another, from passing on the knowledge, from acting as a listening ear, that we can conquer the depths of uncertainty we are all navigating. You do not need to hold status to be a captain. Have the courage to steer the ship and guide those who feel a little lost. It’s nice to know that as the captain of my iso-nation I have the power to control the journey I am on. And although it breathes a chilling air of anxiety every so often, I am learning that life is unexpected, and sometimes it is in those unexpected moments you understand the most about yourself. So, I’m learning to cruise; to tilt my head back, to breathe deeply, and to envision a clear path but not be let down if the wind carries me a slightly different way.

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

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