Mental Health / Soul Stories

2020: Lessons from the silence

by Gillian Adams

Going into lockdown took away all of the distractions and noise and busyness that had been a part of my daily life for quite a while.  I had already sensed that there was an underlying feeling of being unsatisfied, and I just didn’t feel connected to the world.  And although I knew I wasn’t quite “happy”, I had never really sat down to consider why, or really look into what action I ‘should’ be taking.  Well I was too busy, wasn’t I?  I didn’t have time to sit and ponder on life.  I had classes to get to, and a busy job, and people to catch up with, and chores to do.

When lockdown hit, and I retreated to the spare room for work and socialising, my life as I knew it stopped.  All the distractions, and the noise, and the busyness had gone overnight.  As a naturally introverted only child, I felt perfectly equipped to motivate and entertain myself during isolation – it’s something I learned to do a long time ago.  The thought of it didn’t bother me, in fact I was quite looking forward to it.

But I wasn’t prepared for the effect that not being busy any more would have.  Now that all the distractions, and the noise, and the busyness were gone, I was left with, well, just me.  And my thoughts.

All sorts of things came up.  Things that I hadn’t thought about for ages, people I hadn’t thought about in ages.  And once the dam was breeched, it kept coming.  But what the isolation also brought was space and time to just sit and think.  And actually, although it wasn’t pleasant at times, it was much needed.  I didn’t realise how much it was needed.

And these new friends of space and time brought new gifts.  Ideas, inspiration, creativity.  More things that I hadn’t thought about in a long time.  This was especially true when I was out on long walks.  Musing, wonderings, questions.  It was as though a blanket had been lifted and all of these seeds that had been buried now had room to breathe.  They had made their way up to the surface and towards the light.  They sprouted, and grew bigger, and the revelled in the nurturing of the spring sunshine, and the warmth and the fresh air.

2020 will be remembered for all sort of reasons, and for many people, with much sadness.   But I will always be grateful for what the quiet and solitude brought me.  I learned not to be scared of it, and that actually it is necessary to let things grow and move forward.  Now when my thoughts are jumbled or there’s lots going on, I know that I need to get outside and walk.  Being around others and exercising indoors is a great way to pass the time, but it doesn’t help me if I want to be creative.  If I’m looking for ideas or answers, I need to do something different.  Maybe this is why I struggled to find it before, because I just kept plugging away with being busy, hoping that ideas or solutions would come in their own time. But without nurturing that quiet space, they weren’t growing, and I wonder whether I would ever have come to this realisation without experiencing lockdown.  How much longer would I have stayed feeling stuck or unhappy, without knowing what to do?

So, thank you 2020.  I doubt I would be the person I am today without you.

Photo credit:  Jeremy Vessey @jeremyvessey via

Guest Writer:  Gillian Adams has written for Soulhub for the last few months, and is the founder of the “Start a Little Fire” blog. She’s a passionate advocate for lifelong learning and development, and believes that a life well lived is one which encourages all of those things which spark something in us, and which make us unique.

Find out more about her:  @startalittlefire or

Soul Words November: This month’s theme is ‘Lessons Learnt during the Global Pandemic’. Soulhub is sharing personal stories from our Guest Writers, and each day we’re hosting ‘Daily Presence’, gifts to Soulhub community on instagram live. Could be a mediation, yoga, or just live lessons we’ve learnt along the way. You can find these on our Soulhub instagram.


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