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Six months, friends. That’s how long it’s been since the (arguably) craziest part of an overly crazy year began for those of us here in Indianapolis.

Six months of Zoom conference calls, cleaning product shortages, travel restrictions, heightened anxiety and by-the-numbers press conferences. In half a year of upended plans and countless life adjustments, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. (Seriously, just doomscroll through your Facebook feed. If it takes you longer than two minutes to find a COVID-19-related meme or rant, consider yourself lucky.) But what if we didn’t?

Let’s switch it up. The question I pose to you today: What has the pandemic taught you about yourself?

Sure, there’s the expected stuff, like how easy it is to take your own health for granted until an outside force threatens it, or how unsettlingly long it can take to settle into a new routine. But the biggest thing this pandemic has taught me is what’s worthy of my time or attention. When the mind-numbing day-to-day hustle stops, what is it that calls to you? What do you actually miss from your normal routine, and what have you already forgotten about?

Maybe it’s realizing that making coffee at home isn’t as satisfying because the best part of your morning is chatting about lighthearted nonsense with the barista who knows you by name. Maybe, for those of you who are parents of young ones, you feel weirdly grateful the next time you see daycare fees taken out of your bank account. For my fellow bitten-by-the-bug travelers, it’s missing the agonizing anticipation of an upcoming trip and the momentum it gives you to push through the ordinary days.

Sometimes, what you miss can seem superficial, especially in light of a pandemic — but that doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. (It’s like how a 2020 high school graduate can be simultaneously bummed about canceled celebrations and thankful for the safety precautions that caused those cancellations.) As I type this, I’ve hit exactly 6 months since what would have been my one-year anniversary of working out with my Pilates trainer, had the city’s gyms not been ordered to close the day of my 52nd session. This photo shoot, taken before the pandemic, was meant to be a celebration of consistency, strength and prioritizing my health, but for months it’s just been a reminder of so much that’s been paused.

Turns out that, for me, this pandemic highlighted just how much of a habit a weekly workout had become — and I guess that’s one of my silver linings, because isn’t that the goal for anyone who wants to live healthier?

And on the flip side, what don’t I miss? I don’t miss some of the social obligations I’d attend that had little meaning to me. I don’t miss not seeing my husband for lunch at our dining room table every workday. I don’t miss being busy for the sake of looking successful. I don’t miss the feeling of, “Oh, I’d love to try doing [insert random hobby or activity here] someday, when I have the time.”

For me, there has been this paradox of reflective moments of clarity during an exceedingly stressful, chaotic year. I sincerely hope that it’s been the same for you, and that you can find the silver lining, no matter how small or superficial it may be. What has this pandemic taught you about yourself? I’d love to hear, so drop a comment below!

Photography: Chantal Dominique Photography
Makeup: Merle Norman

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