By Rochelle Lyle Gotico
“A perfect year!”
This was the first phrase I’ve said to myself when the clock ticked midnight to welcome 2020. I was thinking about a perfect year I’ve crafted out of hard work ever since I arrived in Australia four years ago. Yes, four years of waiting for this year to come!
January, I treated myself for my first ever Sydney trip. February, I’ve accepted a security research in my university and felt so good working for a research paper as a tech scientist in the making. March, I received an invitation to participate a Cybersecurity forum in the University of London and I was joking that at last, I am going to meet the Queen. This was the first quarter of my “almost” perfect year.
Until one day, I woke up and found out that the world is facing a pandemic. It was mid-March when COVID-19 entered the Western part of Australia, particularly here in Perth. All in just one snap, there was a sense of death stalking everywhere because of the virus. People were being monitored while shops, offices, schools, and universities were closed. And then, the entire Australia decided to close its state territories and the border.
With everything changing unexpectedly, I needed to work from home while continuing my research and my last two units for this semester. As days come by, I received unfortunate responses and cancellations of events. No travel, no laboratory work, and the saddest thing might happen is that there would be no graduation ceremony. That also means my parents won’t be able to attend.
I started procrastinating about everything knowing that my perfect year won’t be so perfect anymore. For me, the system was already under a lot of pressure due to negative energy going on. Not only because of the deadly virus, but also because of politics, racism, and the hardest fight, that of depression.
Little did I know, I found myself lonely and depressed due to this pandemic. From that feeling of being lucky and being on top, it eventually transformed to feeling unlucky and it’s slowly killing me. It interferes with my current life and it causes severe feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest. I started isolating myself and not living up to my potential at work and studies.
Little did I realise that accepting what happens now in the new normal will help me to stand again. Accepting that maybe this year is not perfect and that is okay. Maybe this is not the time where I have to showcase myself outside but instead, it’s the time to cherish the inner me instead.
For me, this is the sign of the new normal. It’s discovering and teaching ourselves to accept the situation whether it’s perfect or not. That even when a year has been perfectly planned and crafted many years ago, things can change according to what it should be.
Now that I know my symptoms of depression, I chose to reflect about my life four years ago when I first arrived in this place. This reflection of the past and accepting what the new normal is helps. I’m also practicing to be a person who will be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported because I know what it’s like how difficult self-isolation is.
Despite the current situation, that brave woman I’ve known four years ago turned out to be braver than she has ever been before. I gambled my life to a fresh reset and rolled the dice in this new normal, a new normal that will become a perfect year all in God’s perfect timing. ∎
Rochelle Lyle Gotico is an international student in Australia. She’s working in Edith Cowan University School of Science as an Engagement Presenter for tech innovation where she combines her passion in arts and humanity. She’s also passionate in investing her time-sharing ideas, gaining experience, and motivation by being active in both domestic and international activities.