This morning, I read in Saturday’s Washington Post Lifestyle section that although the pandemic won’t make us nicer people, it may change us1. And that article linked to a New York Times opinion piece2 about being a different person after the pandemic by making a concerted effort to do so. It’s a nice sentiment: using a world event to spur internal soul searching and metamorphosis.
I am a believer in all things changing. I believe that while we may think we, as individuals, are immovable, stoic creatures relegated to living out who we became in high school, that we actually have untapped potential to change and become someone new at any point in our lives3. Humans are resilient creatures, adaptable to any situation. Usually, we practice this adaptability and resiliency when external factors force us to do so. What if we used this pandemic to try on a new part of personality? What if we deliberately worked to achieve a different personality trait that we have been craving? What if, instead of calling ourselves a writer, we wrote?
My life is in quite a state of flux recently. Some of it is welcome, some of it is not. With this general eruption of change and chaos occurring in my life, it is time for me to change a fundamental thing about me. For decades, since being voted Class Writer in my senior year of high school, I have declared myself a writer. I have written sporadically throughout the decades since then. I have unfinished stories and manuscripts lying in different states, most of them on their dying breaths. I am eloquent and verbose and charming in my emails to those in my life. I can spin a story or two. But nowhere can I point to a body of work. I cannot say I have been published. I cannot truly call myself a writer.
The pandemic has changed a lot for me. Luckily, I am actually in a better place now than I was in pre-pandemic. It’s a different life, for sure, and not all aspects improved, but, on the whole, it is better. But that part of me that I hang the rest of who I am on is lacking. The moniker of a writer is incorrect. At this point, it is still a dream. And I can no longer abide by this. I have to write to become a writer. I have looked back on the past two and a half decades only to see all the empty promises, the unfinished stories, the incomplete characters. This must stop. The pandemic is giving me another reason to change, to write.
A writer writes. If I had died during this pandemic, stranded in a hospital bed without loved ones near, I would have written one last time, lamenting in the knowledge that I had never finished any story, let alone published anything. Yes, I can write, and yes, some of the things I write are beautiful. But this does not make me a writer. I want to be a published writer, and that begins here, five hundred words a day, 3,500 words a week, 15,000 words a month, 180,000 words a year.
Will the pandemic make us nicer people? Probably not. But it might change us in other ways. by Roxanne Roberts ↩︎
You Can Be a Different Person After the Pandemic by Olga Khazan ↩︎
Are some personality traits unable to change? Perhaps. There is some science that says no matter what happens, your set point for happiness remains constant. If you’re happy before a horrible accident, you will return there. See Your Set Point for Happiness by Robert Puff, Ph.D. for some more insight. ↩︎