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A Roundtable With Darling offers real talk from a few of our writers. This Q&A series will take an issue and share the writers’ personal experience and lessons learned. The hope is to create a space of connection and transparency.

Never did we imagine a world in quarantine. A world where we are safer at home. A world where we work remotely from our kitchens and sofas or we don’t work at all. A world where we only see the people we love through screens.

COVID-19 has turned our worlds upside down, but whether or not this shakeup is for our good or detriment is up to us. This time offers us all a much needed pause. Today, our Darling family is sharing what they have learned through this time and how they hope to be changed for the better as a result of it.

Here is what our Darling writers had to say about what they have learned about themselves, their relationships and the world around them:

What has been your living situation during quarantine?

I’ve been quarantining in Louisiana with my fiancé. – Jacie Scott, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I live with a roommate (who I am very grateful to be close with during this time). – Allison Antram Lexington, Kentucky

Under the impression that I was still going into work and interacting with coworkers, I moved to my aunts for the first two weeks. After that, I moved back with my roommates. There is four of us in the house right now but usually we have six (two living elsewhere because of work). – Colleen Little, Vancouver, Canada

I live at La Fondation des états Unis in Paris, France at the Cité Universitaire. It’s a campus within a private park composed of various homes representing different countries for international students. There are currently 100 students in the American house. It’s like a pocket of America in France. I live on a floor with 16 other artists and musicians. Even though there’s strict physical distancing rules, I’ve been able to connect with people I never knew lived in the same building as me in passing. The mentality “we are all in this together” plays out daily. – Hope Curran, Paris, France

I am living with my husband and three kids (an 11-, 10- and 6-year-old) and one lizard! We rotate rooms to fit in schooling for all three, as well as work for my husband and me. – Monica DiCristina, Atlanta, Georgia

What has been the hardest part about quarantine for you?

In the beginning, I joked about how the introvert in me loved the idea of some time away from society and more doing for me. That was cute for about a week. My biggest struggle has been staying motivated and combatting the negative/anxious thoughts that affect my mental health. – Jacie Scott

Not seeing people and not being able to give hugs or see my family who live in another state. I’m a thorough extrovert, and typically, if I’m spending this much time at home something is wrong. I’ve had to be intentional about maintaining life-giving habits and staving off depressive tendencies. – Allison Antram

Finding time to myself, which seems bizarre considering we’re in social isolation. However, I live with a lot of people, and I’m an extreme introvert. I never realized how much I missed the alone time I get driving from place to place! I can still go for walks, but it’s just not the same. It’s made me get creative with how I manage my time, including not having Hangouts or FaceTimes every night. – Colleen Little

I believe hospitality is the highest form of art. I have a shelf full of coffee cups that have been growing dusty during this time. Each one reminds me of different friends, moments of community and the beauty of doing life with others. I miss gathering people and sharing ideas around a table. – Hope Curran

The hardest part has been playing different roles for my kids and myself on the same day, sometimes in the same couple of hours. I am managing what used to be run by three to five teachers as I run my therapy practice. – Monica DiCristina

What has brought you the most joy in quarantine?

I think I’ve found the most joy in reconnecting with the little things that make my heart happy and embracing this time to pause without guilt. – Jacie Scott

I’ve adopted walks into my daily routine. I live in a beautiful downtown area of my city, with historic homes, lots of flowering trees and a friendly coffee shop within walking distance. I’ve loved getting to explore my neighborhood to new depths, pick out my favorite homes and appreciate spring in a way I never have before. – Allison Antram

This pace of life! I’m such a homebody so it’s actually been quite a gift to not feel guilty for just being at home all the time. It’s felt very restorative for me. – Colleen Little

The weather is finally warm enough in Paris for windows to be left open. Monday mornings are now reserved for laundry. As I open my windows wide, immediately the breeze, aroma of rose detergent and layers of transparent, white tones inspire poetry. I’ve been writing a poem a day on my vintage typewriter and sharing them with the world. It’s actually how I started writing with Darling at the beginning of the quarantine through sharing the worlds that were spilling out during this time. – Hope Curran

We are getting so much face-to-face time as a family. In “quarantine,” we have so much time and space to just be together. From watching a silly show, to standing around the counter eating snacks, to having lunch together every day and to new inside jokes. I am loving all the time. – Monica DiCristina

What are some things you have realized about yourself during this time?

Self-reflection can be a beast, OK!? I’ve found that, for the better part of my life, I’ve let other people influence my perception of myself. It made me realize that my happiness sat in the hands of fifty-eleven other people rather than my own, and I made the decision to regain control of my voice. – Jacie Scott

Perhaps, I already knew this at a gut level, but anything I say that I would do if I “had more time,” is actually something I just haven’t made time for. I’ve also realized how profoundly difficult it is for me to have grace with myself. – Allison Antram

I am a control freak. I knew it before, but man, I wasn’t prepared for this side of me! The first weeks of living with my roommates again, I would get anxiety every time they left the house and came back in. I needed to know everything that could potentially expose our home—exactly how, when and where each of them were going. I even moved out of my shared bathroom to our spare because I needed a space where I had complete control over. – Colleen Little

I’m relearning hospitality: a new kind of hospitality. I’m learning to make space for myself, restructure my day with fewer dishes to wash. I’m learning to drop off notes for neighbors rather than knock on the door. I’m learning to laugh in the face of slow WIFI and unknown Zoom passcodes. I’m learning to lean in and learn a new way, receiving a new kind of hospitality within the home of my heart. – Hope Curran

I have realized I still hate cleaning the kitchen. I have realized that I am as much of a homebody as I suspected and that I am worried more often than I would like. – Monica DiCristina

What has been the most confronting self-discovery that has come to light?

I’ve noticed just how much I hold on to the idea of how I think my life should look or what I think I should be doing rather than letting go and opening myself to what is and what’s to come. Sometimes hanging on is more harmful than letting go. – Jacie Scott

I think our disappointment reveals a lot about what we put our hope in. As I’ve gotten space to sit and grieve some disappointments, it’s been jarring to sit with myself and realize the areas I’m still letting fear, shame or self-protection drive, rather than the safety and abiding love of a faith I hold dear. – Allison Antram

I didn’t realize just how self-consumed I could get. Especially after hearing that it’s more likely to be contracted by a diabetic, my thoughts were me first and then everyone else. It was kind of disappointing to see my true colors. – Colleen Little

My hope has been shaken during this time. I’ve realized how much I put my identity in things I do rather than who I am. Americans are known for their pioneer spirit and positivity. Living in a foreign context during COVID-19  has made me confront if my life and dreams are truly rooted in preparation and authentic hope or if they’re a fabricated optimism and fickle plans without a foundation. – Hope Curran

I have learned how much my mood can impact everyone around me. When I’m stressed, that has ripple effects. When I am calm, the same thing. I have realized how interconnected we all are under one roof 24/7, and how giving myself the metaphorical oxygen mask first (making sure I am exercising, sleeping enough and having downtime), makes me a better mom, a kinder person and partner, and our home a sunnier place. – Monica DiCristina

How do intend to live differently after this is over?

I want to make a conscious effort to take pauses. I want to check in with myself to see if I’m still living for me, feeding my heart’s joys and evaluating if I’m letting go of what no longer serves me. I’ve noticed just how much I hold on to the idea of how I think my life should look rather than letting go and opening myself to what is and what’s to come. Sometimes hanging on is more harmful than letting go. – Jacie Scott

I hope breakfast will continue to be an everyday thing and cooking in my home will be the rule rather than the exception. I hope to normalize acts of kindness and practice gratitude more readily and hug people even tighter than my very affectionate self did before. I love rest. I want to continue to see that as a starting line rather than a reward. I want to prioritize and incorporate stillness into my everyday life. – Allison Antram

It’s the first time in a long time where I have given myself permission to not be so busy. A lot of my side projects got put on hold. I fell in love with a life where I didn’t have a giant to-do list hanging over my head at all times. It was so life-giving. I love creating new things and don’t think I’ll ever stop working on side projects, but I seriously want to reprioritize my time. – Colleen Little

This time has taught me the beauty and simplicity of inwardness and intimacy with my thoughts and feelings. I also think the world is going to relearn a way of being. Everything begins at the grassroots personal level. I have learned that relationships are sacred and, like seeds for the garden, can be cultivated and grown. It just takes time, patience, some storms and a lot of looking for the light.  – Hope Curran

I’m taking away to not to take any ordinary day for granted. It is amazing how easily I did before, and quarantine has reminded me that even stressful, normal days are a gift. – Monica DiCristina

What have you learned about yourself throughout quarantine? How do you intend to implement changes that will lead to personal growth?

Image via Madeline Mullebach

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