April 11, 2020

Sometimes I miss myself

This (above) is my favorite social media comment. It came from my friend and former coworker Lindy via Instagram DM in response to an IG story where I posted photos from a 2013 trip I took to Big Cat Rescue (yes, that one, the same one that's featured in Tiger King, run by the woman who everyone thinks killed her rich husband and fed him to her tigers. That Big Cat Rescue). I like to think I know, though really I don't know exactly what Lindy means about Brand Danica but, at the same time, I think I sort of do know what she means. And she's right. I do have a personal brand that people who've known me for a long time are familiar with. I think it goes something like this: I think Brand Danica has something to do with a matter-of-fact resolute pursuit of being a slightly ridiculous human. Not, like, on purpose. I've never really been someone who intentionally sought out adventure (even when I've tried to seek out adventure, it doesn't usually pan out at all the way I think it will). I like to think that I'm open-minded to things that seem unconventional or odd to other people; left-field options and paths have seemingly materialized out of nowhere throughout the course of my life and the way my brain works, I consider opportunities in silo, and if it seems like it could be interesting, I usually say yes.

In early days I used to think things happened "by accident." Like, when I applied to seven colleges in senior year of high school: six schools for med programs, and undecided to Dartmouth, sight unseen and only because one of my best friends had gotten in early decision. All the med programs rejected me, but Dartmouth (by leaps the bounds, the highest-ranked school I applied to) reached out to me with an early acceptance offer in January. Or when I went through the whole corporate recruiting process in senior year of college, failed to get even one job offer, went home after graduation unemployed, and then wound up in a teaching fellowship program at the American University in Cairo that fall. In retrospect, I can't even imagine what would have happened if I'd gotten a job at an investment bank instead. Living in Egypt and working in the journalism department at AUC was a pivotal moment for me, without that year I would never have been accepted at Oxford, and without that masters in Women's Studies, I would never have pivoted to Fashion at Central Saint Martins, without which I would never have entered journalism, or have written a book a year after graduation. Fast forward 20 years and... yeah, like I mentioned a few posts back, that Forrest Gump movie doesn't seem that weird when you're in your 40s because, while life is super-bizarre, somehow it all kind of makes sense in the end.

This year, 2020, has been a really strange year, obviously, for the entire world. On a global scale, for everybody on Earth, everything is going to be different from now on. But the way things are right this minute for every single human... I don't know, but is Covid-19 forcing everyone to focus on their own private personal interior lives and immediate relations in a way none of us have ever had to before? With so many people on lockdown, monitored, restricted, dying, sick, grieving, alone or with only one or a handful of people around. Does everyone feel like life is standing still? I don't know.

On a personal note, I feel very grateful and lucky that I'm living in Hong Kong at the moment, where the spread of the coronavirus has been more-or-less strictly monitored and well-contained (at least in comparison to what is happening in New York City right now). I've been taking these past few months of restricted travel and limited recreational options to really buckle down and focus on work. I try not to think about it too much, but I sort of miss the freedom and randomness that I always felt was at the core of my "brand Danica"-ness. But then I think about how selfish and unimportant that really is, when communities everywhere are grappling with this disease. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and I hope the world sets itself right, very soon, so we can all get back to feeling like some semblance of ourselves again.