A Letter to the Restless


Photos by Jess M

How strange, how surreal, how odd it is to be alive amidst a stagnancy of this magnitude.

I am afraid, as I’m sure many of you are, because I like noise. To me, the TV static my everyday routine provides is a distractor — distraction being my favorite coping mechanism. Although the world right now is loud with the nation screaming for help, inside the four walls of my bedroom, things are hauntingly quiet. I am left with only the thoughts that plunder my peace of mind. 

Of the roughly 7.8 billion people in the world threatened by this virus, at least 970 million suffer from mental health disorders. For me, it’s anxiety. Right now, one of the only solutions we have is distancing. We have a duty to isolate. While isolation has presented challenges for me, some people have been isolated from the care they rely on in order to live safely inside of their own headspaces. With nothing else to occupy your mind for fragments of the day, you’re forced to fight constantly. There’s no running. When you wake up, it is you against you and all you can do is battle so that the right you wins.

Never have we had to be quite so self- reliant. In my last piece, I encouraged all of you to do something. I was able to reach quite a few of you and hopefully motivated you to refrain from drifting into passivity and away from solutions. But as I’m sure most of you have realized, there’s nothing stopping you from spending all day in bed binge-watching “Tiger King” or “All American.” To be completely candid with you, I’ve fallen into that temptation more often recently than I’d like to admit. But I’m here again, pleading that you don’t lose the momentum you had at the start. You are doing such a good job thus far. 

My task today is to help you with the things going on inside your head so you can return to combat as impassioned as ever. To start, routine is your best friend. I try to imagine that this is a life I have chosen, and not one I’ve been forced into. Each day, I decide to pinpoint my reason for existing. This is something I recommend. Whether it’s to drop brownies on porches of people I love, to inspire someone creatively, to help out a friend over the phone, or even to discover how many bowls of cereal (my favorite food) I can eat in one day, finding purpose for myself is what grounds me. This is a little different. We are no longer defined by the things we participate in. Currently, I’m not a student, an athlete or a restaurant employee. I get to decide what to be. Isn’t that exciting?

What I don’t find quite as exciting, but I am grateful for, is that a time like this presents the perfect opportunity to eliminate our crutches. What do you rely on? This empty time has given me a chance to realize I overschedule myself because I’m running from thoughts that I may actually need to invite in for a bit. While it may not be fun, I owe those thoughts and worries resolutions. I can’t rely on that person who feels like fresh air, or that sport that allows me to release all the angst. 

So if you get bored, I have an activity for you. Sit in your room by yourself  (shouldn’t be too difficult right now) and allow yourself to think and feel all of the thoughts and emotions you’ve been forcing out. Because you were too busy to acknowledge them before, right? Well, not now. What is it that you need to work on in order to love who you are? If you’ve gotten there already, have you had a chance to tell yourself that you’re proud yet? 

The truth is, we love to be social, but we neglect ourselves too often. We owe ourselves this time. Let’s dig in — to who we are, to who we want to become, to whatever is standing in the way of that. Make lists. And when we return to the people who have had all of our focus and energy for a very long time, we, as a whole are going to burn with resiliency. We are going to be so in tune with ourselves that we understand how to love others, and how to appreciate what we took for granted before all of this began. I’m working on myself, and I can’t wait to introduce myself to all of you. I can’t wait to meet all of you. I can’t wait to watch the world grow, separate, but in electric unity.

I’ll see you on the other side.



Ella Treinen