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7 Ways This Pandemic Quarantine Can Actually Be A Blessing In Disguise

There are blessings in the lesson.

Inspiration

Yeeeeeah. I'm not sure what any of us were actually expecting 2020 to be like as the clock struck midnight on January 1, but I'm fairly confident when I say that this was certainly not it. I don't need to tell you what, barely six months into this year, has been like. Not only can you read articles like "Covid-19 Is Killing Black People Unequally—Don't Be Surprised", "Few Minority-Owned Businesses Got Relief Loans They Asked For" and "The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying" if you wanna get a semi-brief media recap (SMDH), but most of us personally know someone who has passed away from the pandemic, lost their job and/or is battling some level of depression (if that "someone" isn't us). Not to mention all of the regular day-to-day stuff that can straight stress a sistah out, even without COVID-19 being all up in our space.

It's been rough. I'm not going to patronize you by trying to act otherwise. But if you've ever heard the quote, "Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place" before, you'll get why I believed it was so important to pen this piece. It's definitely not written with the intention of making light of any of the challenges or struggles you and yours may be facing. It's simply something to offer up a perspective that will hopefully remind you of how resilient you actually are and how, even bad times, can refine you in ways that ultimately make sticking things out and going through the rough patches worth it in the end.

Are you ready to see some of the silver linings of this pandemic quarantine? Believe it or not, there are some truly priceless ones.

1. You Can See Who Your True Friends Are

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Years ago, a filmmaker by the name of Molly Secours once said to me, "I'm in a season of being still and seeing who and what comes to me." That resolve has always stayed with me because, as a recovered codependent, I used to be notorious for doing the very opposite of that when it came to relationships, both romantic and platonic.

I'm telling you, sometimes you can be so busy in your dynamics with people that you don't even realize how much of the load you are carrying until…you…stop. And something that this pandemic has done has forced a lot of us to do just that. In many ways, it has forced us to get still, be quiet and pay attention to who is truly as invested in our lives as we are in theirs.

For me, it's really been something to see who has checked in, who has offered help, who has been "intentionally consistent" about making sure that I'm good. It's also been fascinating to see who hasn't done those things. The processing of both has provided me with some real—and what I believe to be lasting—clarity about who my peeps really and truly are; especially in this season. And believe you me, when you know who is fully in your corner, that brings forth a peace of mind and clarity that is nothing short of incomparable. Life-affirming, even.

2. You Can Push “Reset” on Areas of Your Life (That Aren’t Working)

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The one and only time when I got fired from a job, while financially it sucked to have it happen, in hindsight, it was one of the best things ever. For one thing, I hated being there. For another, the gig had absolutely nothing to do with my purpose, passion or calling. I know some people who have lost their job in this season. Ugh. But what has been truly remarkable is to see how it has pushed them to cultivate a dream, write a screenplay or hop on a Masterclass or Skillshare's website so that they can learn a skill that they can…"expand" is the word that comes to mind.

Sometimes, life has us so caught up that we're too busy to step back and ask ourselves, "Is this really what I want to be doing with my gifts, talents and time?" Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something like this happens to slow us down and help us realize that the answer is not just "no", but HELL NO. The beauty in that answer is that you can give yourself permission to reset your life. Reset is a cool word because it means "to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way".

Sis, just because you've been working—working at a job, working at a relationship, working at keeping things going—that doesn't mean that "it" has been working for you. Take this time to ask yourself if it's time to do something different or new. Thankfully, you've got the gift of time and space to set some things right so that you can thrive rather than simply…exist.

3. You Can Become More Responsible with Your Money

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How crazy is this? Did you know that only 67 percent of Americans actually have a financial budget? What. In. The. World? You know what they say—if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if you've been fortunate enough to where not a lot has dramatically changed on the financial tip, I think we all can agree that it would be beyond foolish to be out here maxing out credit cards or blowing stimulus checks. Whether money is tighter than it's ever been or this pandemic is simply reminding you that a whopping 78 percent of us are literally living paycheck to paycheck, hopefully this time has served as either a reminder or a confirmation to get (or keep) your coins in order. Remember, budgeting can help you be accountable of your money, to plan for the future, and to even save up for some special things that you want. Times are tight, that's for sure, but this is when you can become more financially savvy than ever; if you want to be. That's definitely an upside. (By the way, if you need a little help in this area, feel free to check out our article, "10 Budgeting Apps That Will Get Your Coins All The Way Together".)

4. You Can SLOW DOWN and (Better) Nurture Yourself

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Something that a single female client and I are currently working on is making sure that her closet reflects the type of dates that she wants to go on. What is that all about? I'm sure you've heard the saying, "If you build it, they will come." Well, after she shared with me a lot of her relationship history, I wasn't even remotely impressed by what her dating life has looked like. And so, I suggested to her to invest into her dating wardrobe and then to only accept dates that will match it. It's one way to "upgrade" when it comes to setting a new set of standards for herself.

Meanwhile, I'm over here purchasing stuff on Etsy that will re-mineralize my teeth (you can DIY this type of toothpaste by checking out this recipe), deep condition my hair (Chebe powder is that one) and keep my skin super smooth. I'll be honest—I didn't think as hard about doing all of this until the world shut down and I got to meditating on how I could take better care of myself. So yeah, here's another reason why I think this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. It's given me—and the people I've been working with—some time to make time for ourselves; to really self-nurture (and pamper) in ways that we hadn't been as thoughtful or thorough prior to the quarantine.

Nurture is actually a favorite word of mine. On the self-nurture tip, it speaks to protecting oneself, supporting oneself and cherishing oneself. What have you been doing, right through here, to make sure you are doing these things for your own mind, body and spirit? If the answer is "nothing", there is no time like the present to start.

5. You Can Emotionally Connect with Your Partner on Another Level

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One of the reasons why I wrote "8 Hacks To Keep You & Your Boo From Falling Out (During A Quarantine)" is because I already knew that this pandemic—and more specifically, this pandemic's quarantine—was going to take quite the toll on a lot of relationships. It really is kind of a trip how, a lot of people don't even realize how little time they spend with their significant other until something like this reveals that it's not much at all (on average, married couples engage one another only two hours a day). If you live with your partner, this quarantine can help you to relearn your significant other, strengthen your communication skills and figure out ways to reprioritize your relationship. If you are quarantined away from your partner right now, while it can be really—and for some, really, really—hard to not be able to physically connect, watching Lives like the ones between Karrueche Tran and Victor Cruz can remind you that cultivating and then solidifying your emotional bond are very precious and special. It can help you to see what your relationship is truly made of so that when the two of you do come back together, physical intimacy will truly be the icing, not the cake.

6. You Can Make the Time for What Matters Most (to You)

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You know what they say. It's not about what we have time for; it's about what we make time for. And, as author M. Scott Peck once said, "Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it." I've shared, a few times before, in my writings on this platform, that I firmly believe that not only is it possible to waste time, but that a lot of us do it. Waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return", so if we're doing things that we deem are not ultimately giving us an "adequate return", by definition, they are wasting our time.

Listen, there is only so much Netflix and Hulu that you can watch. Make the time to write yourself a love letter, to do some sex journaling, to ponder the patterns you've got with your family, friends and co-workers (check out "The Relationships In Your Life That Are Desperately In Need Of Boundaries" and "The Art Of Saying 'No' To Things You Don't Want To Do"). Think about what you're spending your money on, what you're doing with every moment of every day, and if you're actually planning out your future in a way that will truly benefit you. In short, ask yourself if you're doing what really and truly matters most to you and your life. The quiet of this season might scream to you that you are not. The good thing about that is, there is no time like the present to make a change; to stop wasting what you can never—ever—get back.

7. You Can Make Rest (More of) a Priority

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If this quarantine has had you climbing the walls with boredom, I get that; especially if you're an extrovert. Just make sure that you know the difference between being bored and being a busybody.

Remember that job that I mentioned earlier. While I was unemployed, broke and trying to figure out what the heck I was gonna do with the rest of my life, someone who was close to me at the time said, "You better enjoy this time, Shellie. Something tells me that you won't get this kind of pace ever again." That was about 20 years ago. That individual was right.

The famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don't allow our bodies to heal, and we don't allow our minds and hearts to heal." Did you catch that? Resting helps us to heal. To become healthy. To become whole. To cleanse ourselves. To free ourselves. To pray, meditate and shoot…sleep (be honest, when's the last time you've been able to get eight hours a night in, consecutively so?). So, if this pandemic quarantine has got you in the position where you are resting more so that you can heal more so that you can flourish more, give thanks. Praise the Lord that pandemics don't come around every day and the world doesn't shut down like this often. Use this time to take long baths, to sleep in and incorporate practices that will teach you how to become more calm and relaxed.

It might not feel like it right now, but nothing lasts forever; including COVID-19. Let this season teach you whatever the Universe wants you to learn, so that you can come out stronger and better than ever, as the direct result of choosing to see all of this as being a bit of a blessing; even if it's sometimes in disguise.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul

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10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home)

4 Ways To Stay Sane When You Work From Home

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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