We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. Before the pandemic, I used to compare myself to other people, which affected my self-esteem. With the lockdown, I saw far fewer people, so I stopped comparing myself to others. My self-confidence has grown and I now feel better about myself. I have higher self-esteem. So, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself, who you are, your wealth, and what you accomplish; try and see. You will be happier!
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life. With that in mind, I created this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Godbout.
Kelly Godbout is a biology student, a tutor for high school youth, and leads science workshops in elementary schools. As an emerging travel blogger, she inspires others to go beyond social barriers and to fill their life with adventures.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I am 22 years of age and I am studying biology at Laval University. I come from Quebec, in Canada, and this is where I am currently living. After my degree, I will continue my education by applying for the medical program. Human physiology and diseases have always fascinated me. It is through an internship in cancer research that I realize I want to be out in the field and be a doctor. Finding your own career path is very motivating. Moreover, I love traveling, especially road trips! I live these wonderful adventures with my boyfriend. I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone, experiencing new things, and exploring new spots. Those experiences contribute to shape my current identity.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
Yes, as a student, nearly all my classes, schoolwork, and exams are online. I’m also working from home by doing online tutoring. It was a great challenge as I live in a small 2 ½ apartment with my boyfriend. We have only one bedroom and another room with a kitchen and a lounge. In fact, the living room is primarily the place where I study and tutor online. My boyfriend studies and attends his online classes in the bedroom. In my case, I work on my computer for school and job from 8 am to 11 pm (and often more!). This is why I decided to purchase a computer chair, which was not a luxury for me! My back needed it!
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
What I miss the most is definitely holding my loved one in my arms. I am very close to my family and being so distant from them is heartbreaking. I am the eldest of five kids, with three younger sisters and a younger brother. They are young and they are growing up so fast. Especially my youngest sister who is actually 5 years old. I always promised her that even if we were not living in the same house, I would always be there for her and to see her grow up. And at that age, they are growing up so fast, so it hurts to miss that part of her life.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
I would like to see more respect for one another. They need to stop criticizing and underlining every weakness. Instead, they should applaud good actions. I think this pandemic has made us more united and more supportive. Because to defeat this pandemic, we need to work together and not against each other. I love this movement for mutual help and cooperation. Pharmaceutical companies used to work by themselves and used to be very competitive. But this time, they joined forces to find a vaccine sooner. I would like this self-help movement to remain after the end of the pandemic. Let us all stand together for a better world! Because we are stronger together!
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
I am surprisingly healthier. I have a lymphatic malformation, which makes my immune system less efficient because the lymphatic circulation is affected. This is the first year since I remember that I did not catch the flu or a cold which ends up turning into sinusitis! As for me, I consider this is exceptional! I always got sick and my problems dragged on for weeks before I found myself with another health problem. Wearing the mask and social distancing made a big difference and I finally got through a winter without being constantly sick. For the time being, it is positive for me, so I realize that and I am grateful. I intend to maintain some of the hygiene practices that we have adopted because they provide me with a better quality of life.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
I think I am very fortunate because I do not live alone. I feel lucky to live with my boyfriend. The lockdown allowed us to experience new activities that we would not have attempted at first sight. When the weather was good, we used to play badminton together, basketball and tennis. We have created a whole bunch of ways to be able to play even without field gears. For instance, we bought a rope to simulate a tennis court’s net. We played badminton with no net or field, on the grass or on the parking lots where the parking lines became our field lines. We also explore other kinds of hobbies, like painting and puzzles. One day, we even made a funny video about five things to do during the lockdown. Making this video kept us occupied and was entertaining! For those who are curious, this video can be found on my Facebook profile! Moreover, I have created my own travel blog! I wanted to create a project that would be up to me, and that nothing would stop me from doing it. So I took the plunge and launched my own travel blog called AdvenKa. I love sharing my tips and advice. I like to communicate my ideas and my philosophy through my blog. Moreover, it allows me to plunge back into my wonderful travel memories, and it warms my heart. Besides, I managed to make regular training sessions! I signed up with BeachBody On Demand, and now I have access to a bunch of programs and to a community. So even though I am practicing on my own, I still feel like I’m surrounded. We have a group where we interact and share things, so it is a kind of social interaction!
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
I think I could say that my biggest pain was caused by my misophonia. Misophonia is a neuropsychic disorder. It is the hatred of certain sounds. These sounds cause me anxiety, rage, and distress and result in panic attacks. The troubles occur when the sounds become repetitive.
Staying in my apartment seven days a week, 24/7, I became “allergic” to certain sounds. Because I was not staying at home this much before the pandemic, there were sounds that I was not exposed to a lot before the lockdown. But now I am exposed to a lot of repetitive sounds, so it is really hard for me to deal with my misophonia.
Last November, they were putting a new roof on my apartment building. The noise was just above my head. It took one month for the roof to be redone. It was horrible. I had become “allergic” to the banging sound. Some might say it was just construction noises, but to me, the problem was much more than that. I was unable to study and was constantly overwhelmed by anxiety. It led me to distress, to the point that one day, I was on the brink to go to the hospital emergency. Fortunately, my boyfriend phoned me and got me out of that panic attack. I was completely destroyed by those sounds. Moreover, I struggled to concentrate, so I managed to advance in my schoolwork only the night when the builders had finished their day. I had to go to bed, late to get my homework done. Unfortunately, in the morning, I woke up early because of the noise of hammers and other building machines. It was therefore impossible for me to catch up with both my sleep and my studies. This was a very difficult period. It was last November, so it was too cold here in Quebec to study outside. I was locked up in that noisy jail. To get through, I had to wear earplugs almost the entire day.
Besides this period of construction, I still have a lot of anxiety about other sounds. For example, the noise from the building door that opens and closes whenever someone enters and exits makes me anxious. Earplugs are still my best friends in this situation, but I can’t wear them all day, so that’s a problem. So to sum up, the anxiety caused by my misophonia is really hard to handle every day.
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I have learned the importance of having a project on your own. The fact that we were isolated and that many “normal” things were pending gave me the desire to build my own project. One that is up to me and that doesn’t depend on anyone. Moreover, these difficult moments shed light on the need for generosity. I wanted to help people in my own way. As a result, I decided to launch a travel blog called AdvenKa. In this blog, I share the philosophy that YOU can DECIDE to be the LUCKY ONE who goes on amazing adventures. I share ideas, tips, and advice to help people to go beyond social barriers. I want them to live their life to the fullest.
- We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. Before the pandemic, I used to compare myself to other people, which affected my self-esteem. With the lockdown, I saw far fewer people, so I stopped comparing myself to others. My self-confidence has grown and I now feel better about myself. I have higher self-esteem. So, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself, who you are, your wealth, and what you accomplish; try and see. You will be happier!
- This made us even more aware that interactions with people we love are important. We must make time for the people we love. Because we never know when we will be able to see them again. Some people are probably saying that they should have spent more time with their families before the pandemic. Thankfully, although I was very busy, I always took the time to visit my family and spend time with them. And this pandemic puts into practice this philosophy. Do you believe that you should have set aside more time for the people you love? Do you have any regrets? I think this pandemic allows us to comment on how we have managed our priorities in our lives. When social isolation will be over, we will make different choices and organize our lives around OUR priorities.
- Being home all the time made me realize that we should feel well at home. In my case, I am a student and I live in a small apartment (2 1/2) with my boyfriend. We set up our home to feel good in there. It was essential because I had to study and work the whole day in this little apartment. We sometimes tend to forget this aspect, but it is important to put a good environment first. By investing in our environment, we are investing in ourselves, in our well-being, and in our happiness. I chose to invest in my comfort and health. In my case, I work on my computer for school and job from 8 am to 11 pm (and often more!). This is why I decided to purchase a computer chair. My back needed it! I invested to keep my body healthy. Also, I reorganized all my living room (which is also my workspace). I also clean regularly and more frequently. Because, as they say, if your environment is messy, it will be messy in your mind as well!
- I learned to take time for myself. You may think this is weird or special, but I used to be a person who was not interested in watching television. Before the pandemic, all I wanted to do was concrete things and activities. I never took the time to relax. Believe it or not, I watched Netflix for the first time last November! And I changed my mind! Watching TV in moderation can be good!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
I have my own life lesson quote, which is a mix of many. That quote guides my life every day. It says: “Don’t take time, people, and health for granted. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. Don’t wait to live your life the way you want it. Because you never know what can happen tomorrow. So live your life to the fullest, now”.
Take time for what you would like to do. In my blog, I encourage people to go beyond social barriers. Many people are blinded by their psychological barriers. They say, “Oh no, I can’t afford it, reality will end up catching me…” or “I don’t have the money or I don’t have the time.”
In fact, you cannot afford what exactly? Enjoying your life the way you wish? I know it sounds cliché, but you only have one life. So you got to enjoy it now. We delay the realization of our dreams by saying that the best moment will come later, but yet the future is never a guarantee of security. There is no greater certainty than the present moment.
It is the society that imposes psychological performance barriers on us. It tells us that it is critical to work 35 h/week or more if you are not studying. That you should not take time off from your job, because “it bothers”. That because you have an exam in a week, you are doomed to stay in your chair and study, study and study again… But nothing is stopping you from leaving these conventions. It’s OK to take time off. It is OK to take a break of studying for several hours. It is OK not to comply with the standards. It is OK to take time for yourself to have fun and enjoy life.
For me, every weekend is a getaway, a new adventure. You need to take time to escape and go on an adventure, even if you don’t have a lot of time or a lot of money. For example, I am very thankful that I did the activities I wanted to do before the pandemic because many of them are now impossible. Although I was busy, I took the time to do a thrilling activity every weekend. Even though I didn’t have a lot of money, I allowed myself to make a fantastic 10-day road trip with my lover. Besides, you never know when you might get sick, so you need to enjoy life while you can. And even with the pandemic, life is not on pause. It is only different. We can still enjoy life! We can go to national parks, we can experience new things, like painting or whatever comes into your head! In short, do what would make you happy, right now, so that you will never have regrets. The key is equilibrium. It means rewarding ourselves, but working as hard on what we love. Because life is too short to live doing something we don’t like.
It is important to enjoy our youth while we have the energy to do so. Adventuring with little time and little money is more than doable! You do not control the future, as it is uncertain (illness, sudden death, etc.), but in the present, you can better manage it. Don’t forget that the time spent depriving yourself will never come back. I hear a lot of people saying: “Oh, I will reward myself when I retire because right now I don’t have the time and the money”. Hey. Stop. Aren’t you going to wait until you’re 65 before going on your dream getaway? It is NOW that you have the energy to live crazy and extraordinary experiences! Your life is in your hands. Don’t let your work, your studies, and money restrict you. I want to show you that it is POSSIBLE to live a conventional life with extras!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would say, Jordan Matter, the photographer. He is famous for his dance photos. I’ve been a dancer for 10 years. I even tried to start dancing again during the pandemic, but in a small apartment, it is not easy because the space is very limited! But I love dancing. I love Jordan Matter’s work. He is fun and has a sense of real humanity. He still has his child’s heart and it feels good to see people like him! His pictures carry us so much, they are so impressive and amazing! It’s impossible not saying “wow!” when you look at them. And it’s crazy how he can include everyday elements to make fantastic photos! I love its “10-minute photo challenge”! Honestly, I don’t listen to a lot of YouTube videos, but I listen to his videos passionately! If I ever had the chance to do a photoshoot with him, it would be incredible!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I encourage everyone who wants to fill their life with adventures to follow me on my social media accounts (my Facebook, my Instagram, my AdvenKa’s Facebook page, and my AdvenKa’s Instagram page) and to subscribe to my AdvenKa travel blog!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.