Introduction

Stories from a Distance: Being Together While Apart

Stories from a Distance: Being Together While Apart

Stories from a Distance... being together while apartLearn more at: uoft.me/storiesfromadistance

These are challenging times to say the least. Day by day, it seems like our lives as students and recent grads are shifting and we are continually adjusting to to limitations, changes of routines, and seeking new outlets for our own wellness. As we enter into another week of social distancing many of us are realizing how much has been impacted and will continue to change. While we need to reach out an support one another in responsible ways, we also need to care for ourselves in order to care for others.

At the Innovation Hub we value the power of storytelling to humanize experiences, connect one another, and to gain a sense of our deeper human needs. We also understand how healing storytelling is – whether it be the medium itself or for holding space to interact with others. That is why we’re launching a daily virtual connection space for all UofT students and grads: Stories from a distance: being together while apart is an open space to share how we are doing, exchange resources, find a bit of guidance from one another, and forge new paths that will help get us through the days ahead. No registration is required and participation is completely voluntary for those who join.

Before you join us (and we really hope you do!):

Three of our Senior Project Assistants want to share a bit about themselves to express why this space is valuable to them: 

Gabriele Simmons

Gabriele Simmons,
Senior Project Assistant

Like many, there have been some days recently where I’ve been feeling really stuck. I’m a full-time MA student at U of T and concurrently hold a number of work contracts, including with the Innovation Hub. I left Toronto over a week ago to visit family for the weekend but, based on the current climate, elected to stay out of the city. It’s a funny thing being back home – my family is finally able to see what I mean when I say “I’m busy!” In Toronto I didn’t notice how I ran from task to task, taking little time for myself to just be. Here, I’m able to see how my previous work habits weren’t the healthiest and am being rightfully encouraged by family (and the practice of social distancing) to slow down, embrace hobbies I’ve let go, and hold onto the quiet moments.

Through this time of remote work, I’ve deepened relationships with classmates and friends through virtual co-working and daily calls. Though an introvert, I miss laughing and sharing with others – I’d love for the opportunity to feel connected to my peers at the University in these newly distant times and to hear more about how others are making the best of the current moment. See you online!

Lohana Capanema Queiroz

Lohana Capanema Queiroz,
Senior Project Assistant

I am a very passionate extrovert who is facing some challenges as the quarantine goes on. I have recently graduated from UofT and I currently work for the Innovation Hub and the Career Exploration & Education, both within the Division of Student Life. On a normal weekday, I would go to the downtown campus, spend most of my day in the beautiful Koffler Building, and engage in meaningful conversations with students. In a difficult time like this, in which physical distancing is the appropriate thing to do, I find myself having to juggle multiple coping mechanisms to get energized other than through social interactions like I used to.

The first week of the quarantine was hard as I was adapting to this new reality, feeling very unproductive, demotivated and isolated. When a crisis arises, an opportunity for our minds and heart to sync also does. Taking this downtime has made me reflect on my past months, weeks and even days. I have noticed that many great things happening in the world and around me that are worth noticing, such as neighbours in Italy singing together by the window to bring more joy amidst the chaos. There is so much courage, kindness, and compassion out there! It is somewhat easy to get hooked up on the bad news constantly shared by the media, forgetting the little things for what we are grateful for. This time of self-reflection remembered me that I have always had the power to plan what kind of day(s) will unleash in front of me, based on what I decide to focus on. In fact, we all do. Especially during this hardship, it is important to keep calm, hopeful, and socially connected, so we do not stay “stuck” for too long. But it is normal to feel this way because most of us have felt very much the same.
I know that Positivity and resilience are essential to get us through this while keeping us mentally healthy. Being together while apart reminds ourselves of how strong and resilient we already are. By sharing our stories, whatever they might be, help us create bonds, build community, and inspire others to move forward (and up). Join us to share yours!

Kaitlyn Corlett

Kaitlyn Corlett,
Senior Project Assistant

I hold a lot of expectations for myself – from work, health, school, and even my creative practice as an artist and small business owner. If I don’t have a packed week I feel like I’m not doing well enough. If I don’t get good grades (I’m a soon-to-be graduate student from OISE) I feel like a failure. If I don’t work out and eat healthy (which is rare when I’m stressed), everything else seems to feel even more intense. So… when being “productive” or “busy” shifts in how this looks in literally 24 hours… it’s an adjustment! I have a lot of friends and family saying “now you get to focus on your art and creativity!”, but in reality my creativity thrives by being outdoors or going to new spaces to connect with others and be inspired – away from my home and work space.

As I list all of these things I’ve been pushing up against and experiencing a lot of emotions around, I’ve also been trying to really thinking about the things that work and the things I’m grateful for – and to find joy in online communities that are being designed from art, co-learning spaces, music and more. It sounds cheesy, but it’s helped me simplify my expectations and be a bit more grounded. While I miss my family (I have family throughout the USA and in Vancouver, B.C.) – I’ve been setting days that I can reserve my introverted “social energy” to chat with them. I have set e-dates with my partner playing Fortnite, and make sure I set hard boundaries for when work begins and ends. I’m “trying on” different things to stay motivated, while also enjoying lazy nights watching Kim’s Convenience or the Office.

What I truly hope for is that ‘Stories from a distance’ is something you can “try on” too, whether you’re feeling stuck and never tried joining an online community likes this – or if you know that this is something that would be the perfect fit for you! We’re passionate about making this a space where we share, listen, and learn from one another through the power of our stories, and I hope to see you there!

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