Appreciate the Mundane
I am Norah, and I am disappointed. We all are. As the world has come to a screeching halt to flatten the curve and prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, we’re all making sacrifices, and we’ve all watched the things we plan our lives around get canceled.
Despite the fact that our entire country is sharing this loss, these cancellations feel personal. I spent my entire junior year pouring my heart and soul into the yearbook, only for our printing plant to close until May, pushing back the book’s delivery date well into the summer; meaning many seniors won’t get their last yearbook. For me, this is devastating, yet I still feel selfish for grieving these cancellations; I still (hopefully) have my senior year where things will (hopefully) be back to normal.
Seniors won’t get their senior prom or their senior walk and will probably have to wait until August to graduate. Who am I to be downhearted when so many other people have it so much worse?
There are over 23,000 coronavirus deaths in the US, and 17 million people have filed for unemployment in the past month.* That’s 23,000 families who’ve lost someone they love. That’s 17 million people with no income for the foreseeable future. This is worse than disappointing; it’s devastating. How can I be upset about trivial things when people could lose their lives and their jobs?
Understanding that we are all making sacrifices is paramount to making it through this. We have all earned the right to be sad, to be frustrated, to be furious, to be scared and to be disappointed.
Nothing is set in stone, and we don’t know what’s going on. For the time being, we have to find new things to look forward to. Every Friday I have a movie night where I turn off all the lights, put away my phone, snack on something fun and watch movies. It’s nothing exciting nor is it my ideal Friday night but it’s something I can hope for and not be let down by.
*On the date of publish, there were over 49,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US and over 27 million people had filed for unemployment. These numbers are subject to change.
Establish a Routine
I am Mandala, and I hate having free time. There is a saying that “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” and even though I’m certainly not religious, the sentiment still rings true. When I have free time, I tend to resort to lazy, unmotivated habits, purely just because I can.
Summer used to be my least favorite season because I had so much free time that I could spend days binging tv shows or laying in bed. I depend on a routine, whether it’s from working a job or going to school or mapping out my days so I know I won’t have a lull of unproductivity. So, as you can guess, this global pandemic hasn’t been the best thing for my mental health.
I depend on having a routine because it gives me control and certainty. However, almost every aspect of my life has been put into the hands of COVID-19. I can’t control summer plans, birthday parties or whether or not I can stop by my favorite coffee shop for a drink.
It is terrifying, yet I am extremely lucky that this is the extent of what I have to worry about currently. I acknowledge that others have friends or family that have been recently diagnosed with the disease, no solid way of making money or a systemized disadvantage that makes this pandemic ten times more difficult. However, in this time, I cannot deny that everyone is suffering in a personal way and that many people feel like they want to give up hope.
However, in the midst of this whirlwind of “I don’t know, I have the instinct to hold on to that uncertainty instead. The only thing I can depend on right now to be the same is the fact that everything could change at any minute. And I’ve been working extremely hard to accept that.
I’ve been finding routine in my own little ways, from doing yoga every morning to spending at least an hour reading my book every day. It is not easy to remain hopeful when I cannot control my life, but the pieces that I can control make me feel even stronger at the end of the day.
Phone a Friend
I am Jacob, and for the first three weeks of quarantine, I barely got out of bed. I struggle with self-motivation, to the point where simple tasks like sitting down to do a worksheet or even getting up to eat breakfast can sometimes feel impossible. Even getting myself to do things that I’m passionate about—like track, art and writing—can feel like trying to climb a mountain. To manage, I work to find outside motivators to help me kickstart my brain into working, such as having others rely on me for tasks or having practices and events set in stone.
Unfortunately, this is a lot harder to do during the pandemic. My safety-net of friends, deadlines and practices that I had built into my schedule have all fallen away. Without these motivators, I fell into a habit of doing nothing. I tried to find any way to push myself to get work done: like purchasing an agenda, setting up goals and clearing my space of any distractions. This was work that I both needed, and wanted, to do, but I couldn’t get myself to focus long enough or push through the initial roadblock of just starting something.
Finally, I found the thing that could break through my mental blocks. Instead of trying to push myself to do things by myself, I started searching for people to work with. Instead of trying to convince myself to get up and workout alone, me and my sister set downtimes when we will exercise together. Instead of sitting and staring at a blank worksheet, trying to tell myself that I need to finish it, I look for a friend to team up with. We both work on the same thing, occasionally talking through the questions. Knowing that they have expectations for me and are in it with me helps break through the roadblocks in my mind.
Finding people to work with makes it much easier to set goals and expectations for yourself. Look for friends and family who have similar goals and similar tasks as you and team up with them. They might even be struggling with the same things you are.
Knowing how long it will be before I can have a schedule with school again is scary to think about. But I know that even when I can’t find hope in myself, I can find it in my friends.
Turn It Off
I am Kate, and I’m a very social person. In other words, I thrive amongst chattering classrooms and bustling hallways, giving high fives in the parking lot and telling stories in the lunchroom. I am a perfectionist by nature and I require a structure that school supplies.
Now obviously, both of those things are out of the question. Due to COVID-19 and its rapid spread, several parts of my life have been thrown into chaos.
My dad works in healthcare, so every day is a new bout of paranoia running rapidly through my mind. He was forced to shave his beard and his hair to better sanitize and fit into the masks provided, with stocks of supplies growing thinner by the day.
I miss my friends so dearly. It’s hard to be apart from people I used to see every day. In the fourth week of this quarantine routine, I find the source of my happiness growing thinner by the day.
I also have anxiety and depression. With no structure to my day to day interactions, or lack thereof, my patience also grows thinner by the day.
Social media doesn’t make this any easier. As a teen in the 21st century, when I’m bored, I scroll. I scroll through too many negative posts that hurl insults at those who don’t practice social distancing. I scroll through ominous headlines and people attacking each other and people miserable at home, and it’s all too much.
In this time of fear and absolute madness, I find hope when I turn my phone off. I sleep, I do pilates with my sister, I learn new hobbies (Yes, I now skate). I do whatever I can to calm my nerves and silence the voice in my head that parrots the contents of my Instagram feed back to me.
Positivity is important, and social media conveys no such thing, especially now. The news is simply counting the deaths and injustices the virus stacks up. The people who insult those who hang out with their friends and claim they’re spreading positivity are simply hypocrites. The people typing paragraph after paragraph in their bedroom are simply spreading their negative vibes.
Turn off your phone, and positivity will be easier to focus on. At this time, I have felt lonely, sad, bored and frustrated. However, it’s just one button, and when you press it, a hope for something better will arise.
Everyone is struggling during this prolonged, indefinite break, whether they’re bored, unmotivated, lonely, disappointed or any other emotion that makes daily life just a little harder. However, there are many ways to hold on to hope, for the future and for those around you. We not only have faith in these methods to hold on to hope but faith in you, the reader, to hold on to hope too. Quarantine is hard and something that we have never experienced before, and will most likely never experience again. We are living in the midst of an anomaly, and we don’t even know when it will end. However, we know it will end. We can hope for that future when we can hold our friends tight, see grandparents that we dearly miss, and move on with living after it’s been held at a standstill. So, let us quarantine in solidarity while we sit, wait and above all, hope.