My names are Nji Mabih of Cameroonian nationality. I was asked by a group of young people to write up a personal thought on the COVID -19 situation and this is what I dug down my innermost self and wrote.
If there’s one thing I learned during this period of isolation, though it is not very strict in my country like in other places, it would probably be the importance of kindness. Before anything, kindness should begin with yourself. Being alone with your thoughts could be a springboard of paranoia and anxiety. Distraction through succumbing to your darkest vices seems much more tempting – because, no one will notice anyway? This is why knowing your worth, enough to take care of yourself in such times of uncertainty and loss, should be something intrinsic.
Furthermore, such kindness should be extended to others. Life is not meant to be spent alone or lived only for yourself. Pray for and support the frontline workers in your country: the doctors, the nurses, the soldiers, your local grocery shop workers who expose themselves to the risk of COVID-19 to contribute to the vital functioning of society and to work to provide for their own families.
I tried to check on my friends because they’ll never ask you for emotional support. Being in self-isolation, you wouldn’t really know how others are coping. Some are fighting for their lives. Some are resting. Some are grieving for loved ones. Some are frustrated about being stuck with loved ones. Some are lost in depression. Some are simply bored. I found myself in the early days of this pandemic feeling so bored, having several unanswered questions and almost losing my sense of purpose.
Sure, I tried to overcome this with self-care, exercise, taking care of nieces and nephews, loving whoever came my way, living the present moment, studying the bible and yet, I still felt like I had no meaning. I felt like I lost so much that I was looking forward to due to the general lockdowns. This is because I already had several plans made prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Honestly, I just wanted to start work and do something useful for myself and humanity. I couldn’t be patient anymore. It just took a while before I realised that other people have probably lost more, including their lives.
When I started to find my inner peace, that’s when I wanted to extend this peace to others in whatever way I possibly could. I knew I had a little budget kept aside to purchase my wants, but the crisis reminded me of the most relevant aspects of life somehow – love your neighbour as yourself. Hence, I decided to do something reasonable for mankind.
Some kids can barely eat in moments like this. You won’t know until you consciously look around and purposefully seek to know.
The founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich always taught us not to look very far, because, “There, on your doorstep, you can be sure that there is someone who needs your love,” she often said.
When I started to find my inner peace, that’s when I began to reach out to my elderly friends again especially those in most affected countries. I had two friends of 80 years and above and for some time they were a priority. For a while now, I delayed and sometimes, never replied to their messages. Now, we call more often to check on each other.
Also, I sing a lot of encouraging songs with my family and my friend I live with presently in the Focolare house. Somehow, the idea of making someone smile when I couldn’t (that is, consistently smile myself) made me happier.
Little by little, I’m personally finding meaning in life again. I just needed to be kinder to myself to support my physical and emotional stability, to be kinder to the people who support me and to the people who need support the most in these trying times. “If you could be anything, be kind.”