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Gaby: Independence in Quarantine

Updated: May 26, 2020

11 year old me did not scream the lyrics to Lil Boosie's smash hit “Independent” for nothing. I always considered these three things about myself, (1) I wouldn’t depend on a man for my success, (2) I’ll need to survive on my own, (3) I’ll need to depend on myself to make me happy. Sheltering in place for the last 54 days has dramatically shifted my perspective on what I used to consider my i.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.t identity. But why/how? For starters I used to think being independent was a radical form of practicing feminism. This reality check, I like to call, #coroni has taught me that: (1) I do need men to succeed, (2) I can survive on my own, but do I want to? Hell na, and (3), depending solely on myself for happiness rips the joy out of everything I love.

Let me explain.

(1) For every opportunity that has come my way, I've been lucky enough to have been guided and supported by some pretty phenomenal men. Thank you Dad, Jose, Podge, my brothers, my old manager, Brad, and my colleague Gerhard. Additionally, when I strip away the superficial meaning of success, my perspective changes once again. I’ve been successful in many things that have little to do with money.

I found success in traveling and understanding cultures more deeply - thank you Angel. I’ve been successful at learning how to cook better mac & cheese - thank you, Mateo; adding extra cheese really makes a difference. I’ve been successful at rolling dice and making some money - thank you Shawn and CJ. And the list goes on. Being forced to avoid some of my favorite men, has helped me appreciate the very essence of them and the impact they have on me.

(2) We are animals- of course we can survive on our own. I don’t want to though. Sometimes, things work out so perfectly, that can only leave me to believe they were meant to be. For example, 3 weeks before we were forced to go into self-isolation, my new roommate Julieta moved in. We work similar jobs, and have been able to work from home together since. Unlike my other roommates, who still have to go to work everyday. If Julieta didn’t move in, I would literally be alone almost all day. I am grateful that I have someone to share this experience with - I wouldn't want to do it alone.

(3) I used to think I controlled my happiness. If this isn’t the biggest misnomer I've figured out, I'm not sure what is. I’ve never spent more time alone, than I have now. I'm lucky to get to hang out with my roommates , but there are still long parts of my day where I am completely alone. After all this time alone, I’ve realized I’m not the easiest person to be around (joking but not really). While I do depend on myself to sustain and maintain my happiness, I no longer believe that I have complete dictation over this feeling. Quarantine has reminded me what exactly makes me happy. Here’s my list: my dogs, family, friends, wine, freedom and creativity. Take one of those things away from me, and I suddenly become a less tolerable version of myself.

I undoubtedly I miss my favorite people, Friday night dinners with my best friends, and taking walks to my work kitchen for snacks - still, I appreciate the introspection quarantine has afforded me. My identity is changing for the better. Parts of me are becoming more empathetic and appreciative. I used to pride myself on not crying a lot; now, I cry every time I see a cute video on Tik Tok. I'm excited for things to get back to normal (whatever that will even look like). But in the meantime, I have to thank quarantine for teaching me a beautiful lesson: true independence is deep vulnerability.

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