Caysea Baggs | Georgia, USA
The pandemic started with total loss for me. I lost my job - one that I hated actually. I couldn't see it in the beginning, but that loss was a blessing in disguise because it gave me the opportunity to truly find what makes me happy in this life.
Whether it’s going to school or working a job, I’ve always found comfort in routine. The pandemic created anything but routine, and at first, I tried to be positive about it. I woke up, spent my days working on job applications, and went to sleep at night with the hope of finding a “new normal.” This way of life lasted maybe two weeks.
I hit my first wave of depression in April. It had finally settled into my bones that I was jobless. I began to feel my sense of purpose slip away. Questioning my self-worth,I defined myself by my lack of productivity. I remember spending weeks lying in bed most days because I had no energy to try for something better. My husband did his best to support me, but he could not be an enabler to this behaviour. He told me the truth I needed to hear - that better was coming, but I had to work for it. I had to want it bad enough to make it happen, and thus began the up-and-down cycle that was the next few months of my life.
I had ideas of who I wanted to be and what I enjoyed doing, but truly knowing what I am meant to do with my life always felt overwhelming to me. I decided the pandemic - along with the open time I had on my hands - was a good place to start. I began this journey with an online coding course because I thought building a new website from scratch would be fun. I was wrong. I hated coding and often got frustrated with myself, so I tried a graphic design course next. I enjoyed learning something new and finding a new outlet to express my creativity, but I didn’t feel like it was my passion. Eventually, I found myself thinking about going back to school. I loved writing and mental health, so I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate these two into my future.
In the beginning, I thought I’d finally done it - I thought I’d figured out a new routine for myself that would ultimately set me up for success. I wrote in the mornings and studied for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in the afternoons. I proved to be successful for a while, but then life set in again. I became overwhelmed by my lack of perfection that I spiralled down into an even deeper depression. How is it possible to have all these ideas for your life and still feel like you can’t find the correct path for yourself? I had been a perfectionist my whole life, and the problem that I constantly encountered was the realization that I was not perfect.
The truth is, this last year of my life has been filled with challenges but has also created an immense amount of growth. I failed, over and over again. I cried a lot. I prayed even more. I’d even go as far as to say I lost my way, but in losing it, I somehow found it.
I did manage to finish studying for the GRE and turned in my application to grad school early. A few months after the dreadful wait I received notice that I didn’t get in. It was another loss to add to my list, and it should have broken me. It hurt to be rejected, and I was sad at first but then I realized grad school wasn’t my dream. It was an idea - one that I fell back on for safety and because I didn’t know what else to do.
The real dream was the same as it had always been. Since I was a little girl, I have loved to write. I loved creating inside my head and filling pages with my own thoughts. That's what I wanted to do with my life - it is what I had always wanted to do, but I never believed I actually could. Until now.
Something finally clicked inside me during my time in isolation: I was the one holding myself back. I was the one not believing in myself and not creating the life I wanted.
This dream has not come true overnight, but even this blog is one step closer. I want to share my words with others, and I hope to someday publish a book (or multiple). I’d like to believe I have the power to be whatever and whoever I want to be, and I have finally given myself permission to allow myself the space to grow into that role.
This pandemic created chaos in my life, both internally and externally. It reminded me that I am not in control of most things, but as humans, we are given choices. We choose how we react to the situations in front of us. We choose between comfort and growth. We choose whether we get back up again or whether we remain face-planted on the ground. As humans, we have this amazing ability to continue, even when all hope feels lost. It is our choice on whether we choose to follow through.
In a year full of darkness, loss, and grief, I found that resilience and grace go a long way.
Caysea is a passionate mental health advocate from the state of Georgia inside the United States. You can find her on Instagram @__caml.b