Finding My Identity During Social Isolationcsudhbulletin March 20, 2021 0 COMMENTS
Name tags are a way to identify bodies, but they don’t always represent what’s within. Photo by Carlos Martinez.
By Carlos Martinez, Web Editor
It was a cold, dark afternoon when I walked through the security checkpoint at my job with my knapsack stuffed with textbooks and a plastic bag full of leftovers from the night before.
All of my coworkers at my location were grouped together, trying to find answers to the announcement a few hours before with concern. My managers, with calm and firm demeanors, reinstated the announcement as they called leaders, trainers, and myself over to relay the plans for the next 48 hours.
“Think of it as a break before the food and wine,” one of my managers said. “After two weeks, we’ll be back on track and busier than ever.”
On March 14 2020, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure closed their parks in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With a schedule that consisted of changing into my costume in the LSU bathrooms in between classes, studying for exams while training new hires at my restaurant, days where I napped in my car on campus; I was excited to finally take some time off for myself. I quickly realized that there wasn’t much of “myself” to begin with.
For the past five years, my entire life focused on working hard at my job and finishing school. Spending typically 19 hours at school and work a day, I was rarely home or spent much time with friends and family. I wanted to dedicate as much time as possible to finish school right and earn enough money without student loans.
As one week became two and so forth, a vile emptiness began to manifest inside of me. My nights grew restless, my anxiety attacks began to boil inside me, and I felt like a blank slate whenever I looked at myself in the mirror.
In a socially distant world where I’m furloughed from Disney and learning remotely, I felt vulnerable in my own home. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my family, except for the holidays that I got off from work, and never really had the opportunity to have conversations longer than five minutes.
In short, I was a stray cat that only interacted for food and shelter.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I quickly realized how disconnected I was from myself. I couldn’t remember my hobbies, my favorite outfit, or my go-to person for chisme or nerding out.
The pandemic wrecked my mind as I tried to get used to the new normal. As my anxiety continued to dominate me, I was pushed to reach out to my support system to seek help for my mental health.
I was able to rekindle relationships with friends and family through hour-long conversations of just speaking our minds, learning more about each other in the process. With impromptu therapy sessions, I was able to rediscover my love to sketch while appreciating the little things I see every day.
As the one-year anniversary of the pandemic approaches, my crippling anxiety has waned as I no longer take my family, friends and self for granted.
With Bob Chapek, Disneyland CEO, announcing the planned reopening for late April, I feel relieved there’s some level of normalcy returning in my life. At the same time, I also feel conflicted about diving headfirst as if the turmoil never happened. I was blinded by my obsession to succeed in my job and my academics, that I almost lost sight of my identity.
As I wait for The Mouse to call me back to the happiest place on Earth, I am motivated to put myself first this time around. That way I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I exist.