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What it's like to be a singleton during the Coronovirus

by Susan Lee 6 months ago in single

Musings of a 30-something year old singleton

Yours truly hanging out at a pub in Seoul in 2011

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” - Eli Wiesel

I thought I was an independent woman until the Coronovirus epidemic hit in March 2020. Prior to this, I eschewed on relying on guys for anything and thought the more independent I was, the more "successful" I would be by modern standards.

But when there is an epidemic going on, your perspective changes 180 degrees. I feel strong on the outside, yet vulnerable inside. I put on a smile for dates and friends and family members to "try to live Life as normal" but inside, I'm trembling. I wonder what tomorrow is going to hold or which unknown tomorrow will bring. Why is it that the future that seemed so structured and secure and moored feels so nebulous and uncertain and chaotic in the course of a night?

The last six months seem like a long extended night accentuated by bouts of happiness and joy and self-discoveries. Yet, this sense of night is always lurking in my mind and in the back of my head and consciousness, threatening to engulf and overshadow the peace and fragility of the status quo I desperately try to maintain in the comforts of my home here in the suburbs of Chicago.

Here, surrounded by lush trees and sinewy branches and inky-black nights peppered with brightly-lit stars, I feel removed and sheltered from the surreal reality I'm bombarded with through the news - the vicious news cycle which wreaks havoc on my orderly, logical and what- I-would-like-to-think-conscientious mind on a daily basis.. But there is a war raging in the U.S. - not only an epidemiological war but a political, class-based, racial and gender war.

As a young woman in her late 30s, I am caught in a generational beckoning - one that is too strong to ignore and feels like a roaring tide. It is beckoning for change and for a revolution - not an instantaneous, overnight one but one that is mounted on incremental changes built and fought for by millions of young members of this generation. I shudder when I imagine and try to envision this potential, but also have to fight against the temptation of comfort, security, inertia, and just my familiarity with the status quo. But it is the status quo which frighten me and is bolting me out of my comfort zone and the false sense that "everything was and is okay."

What is normal anyway? Is the normal the discrimination I face on an almost daily basis because of my gender and the entrenched structural injustices in the U.S.? Is the normal the veneer of racial civility I encounter in my predominantly Caucasian neighborhood, but belying centuries-old prejudices and biases? Is the normal the fragile racial disintegration in the U.S. that is still reminiscent of the Jim Crow era and invokes laws and policies written by our imperfect forefathers? Is the normal the news of hate-motivated attacks against members of the LGBT or trans-sexual community? Is the normal racial slurs thrown at members of the Asian-American community because of this virus that supposedly emerged in China? Is the normal the insecurity I feel for myself and for the future generation because of this deeply divided, partisan, ideologically-driven society or the hatred and chaos and racist rhetoric that is bursting at the seams of this fragile and carefully-wrought peace of American society? How do I live and deal with the daily simmering insecurity I feel on a daily basis because I don't have the luxury of wealth or the privilege of a spouse or the comforts or trappings of my parents' wealth? The only thing I feel and breathe is myself - raw, wrought with insecurity, vulnerable, naive and wide-eyed yet scared shitless!

We, as a generation, are at a moment of reckoning - not only in terms of the aforementioned epidemiological, public health, gender-based, racial and inequity issues that plague the U.S. society - but also in terms of U.S.' tenuous policies and response to climate change and the lack of political inclusiveness and fairness and the need for greater transparency and accountability in politics and governance - so a vulnerable woman like myself CAN HAVE A SAFETY NET and feel safe and secure as I go to sleep. I need to feel that I can claim the United States as my home - despite my bicultural heritage and background - because I AM WANTED HERE and there exist policies that protect my inherent sense of integrity and dignity and rights.

A Stanford professor said recently that there exists a need in U.S. society for "poetic thinking" that is antithetical to the tyranny of rhetoric, rigidity, hierarchy and ignorance that we as Americans have witnessed on an almost daily basis, especially in the last four years under the current administration. This poetic thinking should stretch us beyond the dictatorial boundaries of the tyrannical form of thought to motivate us to become better human beings and to embrace our imaginations, humanity and each other. This poetic thinking should encourage greater generosity and humanistic thinking which seem to be badly needed at the end of a long NIGHT, as I described in the beginning. Fortunately, the renowned writer Eli Wiesel reminds us that at the end of a long night follows morning. He continued to state, "There is divine beauty in learning... To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences [my italics], their quests. And so are you [my italics]" I hope that this night of reckoning that is facing the U.S. through many forms of crises we've seen in the last six months since the beginning of the epidemic teaches us to embody strength and resilience and to usher in the morning with hope, fortitude and with all of our lived experiences.

So back to my original introduction of my "singleton" status and how it is affected by only the sociopolitical and economic situation in the U.S. but the geopolitical implications of this epidemic....I thought long and carefully about this. If I had a partner or a spouse, I would be more sheltered and secure from the impact of this epidemic-not only on a psychological level but also economically. .. I watch with envy as my "wealthier" friends (including a self-proclaimed millionaire) are moving to other parts of the U.S. to escape this epidemic and to places where it is safer. But with only me and myself to rely on seemingly at times- with all the visceral emotions and uncertainties and dilemma that accompany this state - I am a more alive and fuller human being in some ways - free to empathize with this beautiful, broken world around me. So i know I'm okay. At the end of the day, despite the seemingly long hours of the "night," I can somehow summon the courage to keep going and to walk courageously and to breathe a sigh of relief which says "I will be okay."

If you liked this story, please feel free to tip so that I can write more in the near future! :)

Susan Lee
Susan Lee
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Susan Lee

I graduated from Stanford University in 2002 with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Psychology and have a Masters in International Affairs from Georgetown University.

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