The Quarantine Has Given me a Chance to Breathe

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Madeleine van Esbroeck, Staff Writer

It’s almost week 10 of the stay at home order and to say it hasn’t gotten to me yet would be a lie. This virus isn’t picking favorites, and it feels like we’ve all lost a lot during this pandemic. 

Personally, I had my whole summer mapped out, but, now, for the first time in years I don’t.  

At first all the news about the virus felt like a shock to me, but I was still confident that it would just blow over. But now it’s hard trying to stay positive during this whole situation, especially when it feels like we can’t escape it.

I listen to the news and I hear about the rising number of cases and deaths. I read emails about things that could’ve been lifelong memories getting cancelled. I go into the grocery store and avoid conversations with the cashier because I can’t even understand them with our masks. It’s no longer a shock; I’m numb.

Despite all of those downsides, I’ve tried to take this as an opportunity. An opportunity to do all the things I didn’t have time to do before. An opportunity for our planet to heal. And, most importantly, a time to reflect on what is actually worth valuing.  

The weeks leading up to school getting cancelled felt overwhelming, and like I was just trying to get through and survive the last few weeks. I would get through one day and just be happy I made it to the next. Now though, I think this virus has made me more present. 

It feels like we’re all living more spontaneously because of the unknown. ”

I’m less stressed. I can actually enjoy activities now without the burden of missing work, and I have the opportunity to do things I couldn’t before. All that craziness just came to a halt when we heard that school was cancelled. From moving in the fast lane of plans to now just figuring out what I’m going to do with the day I have, it feels like we’re all living more spontaneously because of the unknown. 

I felt like because of school I couldn’t pursue hobbies that I loved or wanted to do because time was in such short supply. I’m not much of a left side of the brain type of person and because of that I felt out of tune with school. I wasn’t using the creative side of myself as much as I should’ve been and now that I have this time because of a pandemic I can finally let my mind wonder and do activities that stimulate my mind in ways solving a math problem doesn’t. 

In quarantine I’ve had time to draw again, to finish reading a book I started months ago, to reach my long distance running goal, to meditate, and to focus on other things that I had been putting off because I simply couldn’t prioritize it the way I did other things. 

Weirdly enough I’ve found that I’ve been spending less time on my phone during this chaos, and I think it’s because it doesn’t feel like a ‘treat’ to go on my phone anymore. Especially with e-learning, the last thing I want to do anymore is scroll through Instagram after sitting at a computer. I also think it’s because during school I would be so tired of thinking that I would just sit on my phone because it was more exciting than doing work. 

Even though e-learning has it’s long and short days, I have more time to get outside and go for a long walk now after I finish school, because I’m not as mentally drained. I can prioritize getting outside for fresh air now, even if it’s just 20 minutes because I have the time to do so, and now the motivation. If I can sit at the computer for a couple hours, the least I can do is put some music on and go for a  run or walk my dog. 

I’m not trying to say I don’t miss school. I just think that this virus has been a sign for all of us to slow down. I think that there was a decent amount of things I was missing before this all went into effect, despite the fact that I am now missing all the ‘normal’ things that I used to do before. 

I know we’ve all had our losses from this year, but wouldn’t it be a bigger loss if we didn’t take anything away from this experience?”

That’s the thing though. They were normal things which means that when all of this is over I will go back to doing them. We will eventually go back to school, whether it’s this year, next year, college….We will eventually have sports back and everything will go back to what it once was. But in all honesty, I hope not all of it does. Obviously I miss those things, but I think that if we go back to the way things were before we’ll just end up back in our homes again. 

This virus is a sign. A sign that we need to incorporate more of the things we enjoy doing in our daily life, a sign to set aside more time for our loved ones, a sign to take care of our environment and get outside, instead of our cars. There is so much evidence showing the impact we have on this environment and how we can change it for the better if we try. The problem is that before not everyone was trying. Now that we all have to stay home, the earth has finally had the chance to breathe and slowly repair itself.  

I know we’ve all had our losses from this year, but wouldn’t it be a bigger loss if we didn’t take anything away from this experience? It’s unfortunate that it’s taken a virus to be the change that the world might be needing, but all I can think about is that it’s for a reason and that it’s a chance for us to change the way we used to live for the better in the long run.