I am originally from France but I moved to the Netherlands by myself many years ago. While I call Amsterdam my home and I am very lucky that both countries are very close, it has never felt so far before! This is due to both countries adapting very different lockdown measures.

France declared a state of sanitary emergency due to the urgency of the situation mid-March. This translated to a rigid lockdown which was dominated by strict rules and sanctions. On the other hand, the Netherlands went for another approach. They adopted, what they call, an ‘intelligent lockdown’. While both approaches lie on the same principles, the implementation was very different! Contrary to France where the state was behind the reinforcement of those rules, the Netherlands relied on its citizens’ sense of responsibility to follow the regulations. Many shops even stayed open which wasn’t the case in France!

The contrast between my country of origin and home country represented a big source of stress. What is the best approach and what should I do?  All sorts of questions started to rush through my head. This led me to confine myself in my bedroom for weeks without going out at all.

Needless to say that the quarantine took its toll on me! I’ve always struggled with stress and anxiety and yet, I’ve always considered myself hopeful. However, I was starting to turn into a completely different person. While feeling worried is normal, it started to consume me. As a result, I did not have any energy for anything else!

While this situation was unique, I have been confronted with difficult situations before. Talking to friends about my experience was something that had often helped me in such times. Remembering that I was not alone and sharing moments with the people I loved relieved me a lot. After that, I had more energy to do other things!

I was able to reconnect with certain passions such as cooking, and even developed a new hobby in meditation. Escapism, but more importantly, learning to live in the present and accept things for what they are, have been my best tools to face this situation. Plus, they can be applied to any situation!

While I look forward to meeting my loved ones, I realised that this is a situation I do not have any control over. However, what I do have some control over are my feelings towards it! My feelings are completely justified but lingering on them won’t change what’s going on!

Acknowledging them, giving them the space they need but also learning to let go and go on has been, so far, the most valuable and most challenging lesson I learnt during this confinement. In a world where we often identify with our feelings, this has been very hard to do and I am still on a learning journey.

-Claire Rochet
Girl Museum Inc.

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