Rethinking relationships is not a bad thing

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: CHEYENNE DOCKSTADER
Opinion: COVID-19 has forced us to take our time in getting to know each other.

I say this purely in the spirit of much-needed levity, with all due respect to the seriousness of the situation at hand: It took the life-threatening reality of a global pandemic for me to finally demand more for myself in my personal relationships.

In the “before times,” as I like to call the days before COVID-19, I was unconsciously ruled by an urgency to tick the boxes of conventional life accomplishments. Graduate university — check. Find a career path and get my first job in the field — check. Next up on the list was to find a life partner.

However, those first two feats had taken up the bulk of my twenties. Looking back at it, I hadn’t had a chance to really truly slow down and ask myself what I wanted in the long run not only from a partner, but also from myself. The responsibility of school, finances, career and maintaining mental health in the moment were always in the forefront, with my vision for the rest of my life persistently on the backburner.

Navigator. Londons student lifestyles magazine.

I know I’m not alone in this one, so I’ll be among those to declare it publicly — our lives in the before times were on the go-go-go. And if we didn’t have this break in the routine, unprecedented as it may be, frustrating, sad and horrendous as it is…some of us would continue to go-go-go until we were gone-gone-gone.

My partnerships in the before times suffered because of this. I think a lot of ours tended to for this reason. I was too preoccupied thinking about how my relationships looked on paper (Does he have a similar religious/cultural background? Is he around my age? Same level of education?), that I would dive headfirst into an arrangement without getting to know him or myself relative to him. I pressured and rushed myself to settle down, maybe because I felt pressured and rushed to do everything else.

During the initial lockdown, there was nothing to do but pause and confront this truth. For the first time since I was a young child, the cycle of work-study-sleep-repeat was on hold, and I remembered that I’m more than my LinkedIn profile. I’m more than my degrees. I’m more than my career aspirations, I’m more than my f**king student debt, and a partnership is not another life accomplishment.

Thanks to the threat of contracting a serious illness of which the long-term impact remains largely unknown, we are now forced to take great care and consideration in our interactions, personal or otherwise. As other articles in this issue can attest, many of us are continuing to date while taking the risks into account. If anything, our need for personal connection has grown stronger.

The upside for me is that I look at relationships differently. I cherish them. I cherish myself within them. I take more time to speak my truth, and listen to that of others as well (although I’ve found my listening skills still have a long way to go).

Life is precious, and there’s a lot more to the human experience than I ever imagined. The world is a mess. So I may as well be who I am really am and develop some good relationships while I’m here.

Learning to slow down has probably been one of the best lessons I’ve ever had. And that’s a life accomplishment I’m proud to check off the list.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.