Tiffany’s 21 tips to turn 2021 around, part 1

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“Doesn’t it feel like it’s the end of the world?”
“How long is this gonna last?”
“Where did the good old days fly to?”

These questions have been voiced by various people around me — words of nostalgia and tired hope that dissipated in the air, with nothing and no one to provide any answer, because there is none.

In the first part of this series, I consider these questions and offer advice in hopes of bringing you temporary peace of mind. Each article in this series will include three tips for making the most of 2021. In no way do I attempt to provide particular answers to these recurrent questions, because they are out of my power and out of our control. The coronavirus pandemic has usurped our liberty in countless ways, yet has failed to take away the source of my freedom: my pen. Even when I was stuck at home, away from the face of the world, the undulatory movement of ink against paper was the most beautiful metaphor setting my heart free, and the purest form of freedom that carried my mind, my heart, my body and my poetry to the much-needed light. My creations and I have built a solid faith in crafting bits and pieces of a renovated version of normality, because what could be better than redefining freedom based on your own art.

To every person reading this, I am sending you love and light.

1. Take it one day at a time.

Today is today, tomorrow is uncertain and yesterday is long gone. Someone once told me that worrying about a moment before it occurs is putting yourself through a mental struggle twice. One thing the pandemic has taught me is to savor every minute of being alive, every minute of breathing, even when it is behind a blue surgical mask, every minute of conversing with my loved ones. These minutes might be the first or the last of many.

How could we possibly project our minds to the future when the next step we take is still questioned by the status of the COVID-19 pandemic? Think of it like a music sheet: while playing an instrument, the first step to take is to start from the top. The first few arpeggios represent you facing the moment and embracing the evolution, as the music carries you through the curves of the melody until you reach the middle of the song. This specific space is tricky. You are tempted to start from the top because you are scared to go on and make mistakes, so you look back at the “once present but now past,” but at the same time you yearn to jump into the future staccatos. You wait for the orchestra of time to lead the way and as you enjoy the present which was once a near future, you realize that there is no such thing as “past, present and future”; it is all part of the enigma of time to keep you motivated on the journey of discovery and evolution. They are labels you set to compartmentalize the course of your life. The present becomes past as you play another music note, the future becomes present as you end your task, so enjoy the moment you live for, because it might not happen or turn out as you thought.

2. Breathe.

Do you remember the last time you breathed without a mask? I don’t. I used to watch movies where doctors wore these masks for endless hours in operation rooms, and I would always ask myself, “How are they not bothered?” Then, when we least expected it, it caught us and molded itself into our present days. Now, we feel incomplete without it, and rush back inside our homes for our masks the same way we do when forgetting our keys or phones.

The truth is, this piece of cloth we put over our mouths and noses holds an interesting caveat: sometimes it causes us trouble to breathe, but it also grants us the ability to breathe for as long as possible.

Taking a deep sigh doesn’t expose your nostrils to the fresh oxygen. A deep sigh marks a feeling of relief that you will be able to catch your second breath, and that you will not need intubation or oxygen machines to make you breathe — that with one masked breath, you might save various lives. It is mostly honoring your pact with life, respecting the wisdom of inhaling and exhaling and appreciating this process you forgot about for the most part of your life.

Breathe because you are still alive. Breathe because at some points, this new normal triggers your anxiety and replaces your breath with huffs, puffs and sweating. Breathe anyway. At some points, you are faced with a turning point in a pandemic full of crossroads, so you have to choose wisely in uncertainty. Breathe anyway. At some points, you are faced with the fear of carrying the virus and infecting the people who make it easier to breathe. Breathe anyway. At every point, you wish you could go back to your pre-pandemic life and you sometimes forget to count your blessings but when you do, count the 90 breaths you accomplish per minute. Breathe because you are fortunate to be breathing.

3. Close your eyes and look into the distance.

Try to close your eyes for 10 seconds. When you open them, focus on each image I will attempt to draw. First, imagine a bird resting on a tree branch on a gloomy afternoon. Your eye catches it flying away, slowly but surely. As time passes, the bird disappears behind the clouds. This bird represents serenity. It breaks through the darkness of the afternoon, patiently grabbing what is left of your energy to channel it to the outer world, to let you spread your wings and reach for the bluest skies.

Imagine a baby flower planted in a cactus garden. It does not yet have the thorns of adulthood, but eventually this flower will bloom and blossom, the climate will challenge its roots and predators will attempt to destroy and devour its petals. But the flower will stand still, overcoming the obstacles regardless of the pain and the bruises. This flower represents growth and power, because maturity originates from your ability to adapt to an unforeseen situation in a graceful manner, to embrace change and mold it to become a beautiful part of yourself.

Imagine a storm in a city that requires its citizens to find refuge in their homes, and as they wake up the next morning, their town is covered with snow and a rainbow. This transition represents patience, waiting for better days while pushing through the darker shades of reality.

When you look into the distance, you can now view: a bird, a flower and a rainbow — symbols of serenity, growth and patience. These three components are your backbone whenever you feel like you lost your hope. They are the ingredients of light as they enlighten the rest of the blessings you forget such as love, health, happiness and prosperity.

Contact The Grind section at thegrind ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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Tiffany Saade is a staff writer in the news and The Grind sections. She is a freshman from Beirut, Lebanon and will probably major in Political Science in the Justice and Law main track with a double minor in Human Rights and Creative Writing. She enjoys riding her yellow bike and singing out loud on Stanford campus! Contact her at thegrind 'at' stanforddaily.com for additional optimistic conversations about the future, and for some much needed light!