Fatima, the UK

My life changed a lot during the pandemic. I guess it changed for all of us. ‘What was the biggest challenge?’ For me it was losing my dad, I wasn't with him when it happened and it made the distance between us really painful.  I was very close to my dad. He was the type of person that could make anyone smile, someone that truly believed in kindness. I guess no one can prepare you for what grief feels like. Even after time passes it's always with you. It makes memories painful, they are tainted by the irreversibility of time. My dad used to sit with my sister and I before bed and we would list what we were grateful for that day, we would end by thanking those who are no longer with us. Now I thank him every night.

I was not alone at that moment the whole world was grieving for the loss of loved ones. It is unusual that the whole world was experiencing the same thing at the same time. (a collective experience) I wonder what that will do to us as a society? I hope things change.

‘What have you learned’ I guess I learned to have patience with myself to be forgiving and kind. I questioned myself a lot, I wondered if I was truly an ‘artist’ or if I could even call myself that. There is a lot attached to that word, so I removed the pressure and expectation (and started to make work for myself). To be free in my own expression, that is what is truly liberating. I've always surrounded myself with creatives, people that embrace all the parts of themselves and their work, with all its faults and imperfections. I guess they are the main reason I continue to create.

There's something about live performance that can't be replicated online, that feeling was the reason I was so interested in the art form. I just thought to myself I want to be a part of that, I want to create those moments. I usually collaborate with big groups of people, I think there is something really special about collective creation. Recently because of the pandemic I have had to develop my own creative practice.  It has been an interesting process, I have explored different styles and mediums. My practice is still growing, I am no longer afraid to make ‘bad art’, I celebrate it. At the moment we are working on a live performance, it's really exciting to finally get back into the rehearsal rooms and to rediscover what it means to make art now.

There were so many plans that fell through. It was hard to live in the present when you couldn't really plan the future. Everything was unpredictable. So, I guess I was living in the comfort of the past, thinking about what could've been. After my dad died that changed. Maybe it's moments like these that become pivotal in life. The way I looked at life changed, they always say life is short so you better live everyday like it's your last, that just seemed irrational to me haha its a bit morbid to live every day as if you were going to die. I'd rather just live in gratitude for another day, to be open and to love fully. I don't want to live carrying regret. ‘Do you regret anything in your life?’ I guess when I was younger I spent so much time and energy hating myself. I wish I had put that energy somewhere else but it's easy to say that now.

‘What was the most difficult thing?’ Not being able to see my family, not knowing when I will see them again. I think there was fear of losing more people and not being able to be with them (or to take care of them). My family is spread across the world so I grew up used to seeing people online before zoom, it was interesting to see how different it was to navigate this time. I'm from Peru and not knowing when I'll be able to return is difficult. So I've been finding ways to make London feel more like home, I guess in Peru our love language is food haha it's what brings family, culture and tradition together. I've been cooking a lot of peruvian food at home even though it will never taste as good as my mums.

‘Do you think the pandemic made you mature?’ It was more of a slap across the face; an uninviting welcome into reality haha. Like many people the pandemic made me reflect and reconsider my priorities, it became a time to question what I value in life. I guess that is the inexplicable simplicity of joy. To surround myself with love and inspiration. I guess small things (like a hug).