Known for her hit “Hideaway,” Calgary-born musician Kiesza would have preferred to do anything but hide away when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She’d been through a long stint of isolation once before and knew very well the challenges it could present.
“The hardest thing of the pandemic is the feeling of being alone,” she said recently from her current home in Toronto where she is self-isolating with several pets she lovingly refers to as her “zoo.”
“The feeling of going through it alone, that is tough.”
Back in 2017, Kiesza was involved in a serious car crash. She suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her with debilitating fatigue, memory loss and problems with her vision.
She would spend hours alone in the darkness for days at a time. Her recovery took months but it also prepared her well for the pandemic and yet another round of being kept away from friends and family.
“I think we do rely on our human connection, our friends and obviously our family, and when we’re divided from that, when we’re put into isolation and not able to interact with our peer group, it’s a really hard feeling,” she said.
“I have struggled with that myself — feeling alone — and it has helped me knowing that, just stopping to breathe.
“The whole world is experiencing this and I just have to breathe through it and take it one day at a time.”
Kiesza likened isolation to a grieving process.
“You grieve the change because you miss things that were taken away from you and you have to let a lot of them go in some ways because you don’t know what’s coming back.”
“You’re basically walking head-first into the unknown and confusion is a really hard state to exist in because you’re scared. You don’t what direction to go in. You don’t know what to do and you really have to find your footing every single day.”
Her biggest piece of advice? Don’t be too hard on yourself.
“When you can’t project all your energy out into the world, all that energy comes at you so you start attacking yourself and that’s when you really have to be kind to yourself.
“It’s like walking or running a marathon, you just have to keep moving forward, that’s the most important thing, and if you do trip or you have setbacks, you just have to get yourself up. And you can’t attack, that’s the biggest thing I learned.”
Kiesza says finding ways to connect with others is important as well.
“This is the time to help your friends, this is the time to be there for other people,” she said.
Kiesza, in fact, will be reconnecting with her hometown as part of the upcoming Calgary Heart Beats Charity Concert.
The concert will feature other Calgary-born artists and will benefit five local charities including #NotInMyCity, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, the Calgary Health Trust and the Homes for Heroes Foundation.
“It’s a time for giving, it really is, and giving in whatever way we can given the circumstances.”