Surviving 2020: Solo Edition

Living alone had been my dream since I was 16. I thought moving into my own apartment would mark the beginning of my best era, but 2020 had other plans for me.

When 2020 began, I was a recent college grad working my first corporate job in the city I had come to love. Although the new year brought about a lot of uncertainty, it also had plenty of promise. After years of struggling, I was finally in a position where I felt I could live independently. The first two months were emotionally taxing, to say the least, but after weeks of research and hard work, I was able to achieve my #1 goal: securing my own apartment. 

I had been living with a different bunch of roommates every year since 2015, and I told myself that 2020 was the year I was going to break the cycle. The introvert in me craved her own space. I had convinced myself that if I could just get to a place where I was completely on my own, I would reach peak happiness and everything would start to fall into place. Nothing made me happier than silence and solitude. Looking back, it’s amazing to me how quickly things can change.

I moved into my own spot at the beginning of March, about 2 weeks before the pandemic hit San Diego. I didn’t have a car, but I had spent the last few months learning the city’s bus routes and times, so I was able to get where I needed to go by utilizing public transportation. What could have been a 30-minute car commute to work was actually an hour-and-a-half-long journey on the buses — every morning and every night, 5 days a week.

I didn’t mind though. Going about this way allowed me to have the life I had always wanted. I was independent and loving it. 

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Image Source: Pexels

Unfortunately, the bliss was short-lived. When COVID hit mid-March, the city shut down and the life I had worked to build started to crumble. I always count my blessings first though — I was able to keep my job and work from home full-time, so I did not experience the financial turmoil that put so many Americans in the hole. However, the social aspect of my life was flipped instantly.

While I did want to be alone, I wanted to be able to choose my solitude. I did enjoy being around my friends and family, and I had this vision of my apartment being the go-to place for those I cared about to de-stress when they needed to. I was excited to have visitors and host them. I wanted my place to be a haven for people, just like it was for me. 

When lockdown commenced, I had to face the realization that I would be 100% alone for an unspecified amount of time. My family all lived back home, and the majority of my closest friends moved out of town after college.

With non-essential travel becoming a big pandemic no-no, I didn’t know when I would see anyone again. It was bittersweet. I had prayed endlessly about getting to a place where I could be alone, but I definitely didn’t want it to happen the way it did. Be careful what you wish for, right?

Not only was I alone, but I was also stuck. The public transit I had come to rely on became a non-factor when COVID settled in. The thought of sitting within a couple of feet of strangers every day didn’t sit right with me, and even after the bus routes opened back up, I was too afraid to use them anymore.

I didn’t live within reasonable walking distance of any major grocery stores. All I had was a 7-11 down the street and a CVS a few blocks down. It was extremely stressful to not be able to get around to get what I needed, especially during a pandemic. A lingering sense of helplessness began to fester within me, and my new reality became a nightmare. 

For the first half of the year, I fell into a slump and allowed my mental health to deteriorate. The days started blending into one another. I completely lost my sense of time, and my motivation left me shortly after. It was difficult to find a reason to keep going when I had nothing to look forward to anymore. Variety was non-existent. Getting out of bed became my biggest battle.

Going out to eat with co-workers, going on trips with friends, and exploring the city turned into day after day of working 8 hours and then staring at my apartment walls. The solitude I so badly wanted became a curse, and I began to crave human interaction like I never had before.

Not to mention, the world outside was in chaos. Racial injustice was running rampant, and trying to strike the balance between being involved and also staying safe and sane was absolutely exhausting.

cracked door
Image Source: Pexels

At some point, I realized that although the state of the world absolutely sucked, it was becoming a turning point for me that I would have to acknowledge. My initial trauma response had been to give up, but eventually, I decided to stop mourning my old life and attempt to build a new one. I learned a great deal about myself with all the time I had, and the person I was before slowly started to expire. The social anxiety that had characterized me for years began to fade as my desire to interact with people again grew stronger. The girl who used to put her headphones in during Uber rides and avoid people on the street became someone who would initiate conversations with anyone who would listen. After having my company reduced to drivers and food delivery couriers for months, I was more than happy to socialize with people. 

I accepted that the bus life I had grown so fond of would probably never return, so I found new alternatives to get what I needed. Uber and Lyft became my lifeline, and when that got to be too expensive, I dove into the world of grocery delivery apps and never looked back.

I eventually got used to the monotony of my days, and instead of dreading them, I tried to work in as much novelty as I could. In the midst of my misery, I forced myself to see some sort of light. Over time, the restrictions eased up and I was able to see my friends and family a little more frequently. Slowly but surely, I adjusted to the quarantine life. 

Some people used their newfound pandemic free-time to build something great. Some created businesses, some developed new knowledge and skills. In this society where everyone’s accomplishments are put on display, it can be discouraging to see the fruit of others’ labor and feel like you did not utilize this time efficiently.

I suppose the point of me writing this is to share my experience and emphasize that making it through this year — regardless of how you did it — is such a huge accomplishment. I’m sure many of you experienced your own struggles during this hellish year and were forced to adapt to the situation. Maybe you still feel like you’re figuring it out.

However, if you’re reading this, you are making it through and that is something to be proud of. No one will come out of this the same as they were when they came in, and there’s something beautiful to be found in that. Maybe the lives we have now are not the ones we anticipated, but we are right where we are supposed to be. This has been said many times, but 2020 has proved to me that it is indeed true: Things do eventually get better if you hang in there. 

Writer, blogger, and content creator from Sunny San Diego. When she isn’t writing, you can find her exploring, eating, and watching Netflix.

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