I hate not knowing.
This sounds like I am referencing something specific but I’m not. See, I’m a planner. I like knowing what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, and next week. I like to plan dinner the minute I wake up in the wee hours of the morning. When I know I am traveling, I will curate an agenda and packing list, days—admittedly sometimes even weeks—before my expected departure date. I like to know how people feel, what they think, how they are doing.
Basically, I am not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person, nor do I do well being completely in the dark. Apparently, this is because I am a textbook Virgo, and while I don’t lean very heavily into Astrology, I cannot deny the similarities between some of my qualities and the qualities attributed to the astrological virgin.
All that is to say that the last year or so has thrown me really out of whack.
2020 was basically the year of not knowing—not knowing what was going to happen financially, economically. Not knowing how long the lockdowns would last. Not knowing if family would contract the virus. Not knowing if my partner and I, newly sharing a home for the first time, would kill each other or not after being together 24/7. Not knowing if travel plans would still happen (they didn’t), if grad school would be in person (it wasn’t), if we would ever be able to find toilet paper at the store (eventually).
Not knowing how all of this “not knowing” would affect my mental health.
See, my whole life, my identity was built on knowing. So when that was taken away, I felt like part of me was missing. Adrift. A purposeless soul both simultaneously lost and yet caged.
Needless to say—not ideal.
Toward the end of 2020, as we approached 2021 at a pace both alarmingly quick and excruciatingly slow, it appeared there was a light. Vaccines. A new President. The end of another lockdown. 2021 looked like the shimmering Emerald City at the end of the endless poppy fields. But like the Wizard, the hope I felt seems to have been largely an illusion. Because I don’t know any more than I did six months ago. And to have that foothold fall out from under me has left me dangling by a single handhold while my arms feel weaker and weaker.
Maybe I’m being dramatic. But I’m also very tired of being suspended in this place of uncertainty. I know I’m not unique in this feeling, but the thing about the state of the world right now is that there is this feeling of extreme isolation, so it is easy to feel lost and alone.
What a winning combo.
So now what?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m clinging to all the things I do know. I know that I’m getting my vaccine this week. I know I finally have an appointment with a dermatologist to address this terrible maskne. I know I have an incredibly supportive partner. I know I’m lucky to be able to afford food in a time when so many can’t. I know I have a tienda near me that never runs out of toilet paper.
They’re small things to cling to when the world is largely uncertain—small buoys in a churning, seemingly endless sea. But it’s enough to remind me of who I am, to anchor me within myself, and to keep me going until there is more to know.
Kristy Cloetingh is a Philadelphia native who is currently trying to figure out her place in the world. Her passions include reading, singing, dancing, nature, yoga, chicken fingers, and puppies. An anorexia survivor and mental health warrior, Kristy has made it her life’s mission to remind every single person that their bodies and minds are worthy of unconditional love and respect, regardless of size, shape, or whatever “normal” is.