Let’s face it: We’re tired of sickness, masks, and worrying about the stability of the future. Since lockdowns started in 2020, we’ve only been thinking about all we’ve lost: large gatherings, face-to-face interaction, even the ability to interpret microexpressions behind another’s mask.
But do we think about all we’ve gained? This past year was not easy, but quarantine stories about family improvement and personal development show us that our struggle was not without reward.
It may seem strange that locking ourselves behind doors can do any good, but maybe the time alone was just what the doctor should have ordered. We lost in-person classes, but confidence in ourselves and bonds between family members are stronger than ever.
What have you learned in lockdown? Here are six quarantine stories that will shift your paradigm of the pandemic and give you hope for an uncertain future:
In this post:
How Quarantine Changed My Perspective on Life
Quarantine has actually had a pretty positive impact on a personal level. It has changed my perspective on life. I’m finally able to take a breath and pause and reestablish a rhythm. I’m feeling less pressure to be constantly externalizing, socializing, or working.
But, I definitely also had a period of time towards the beginning where there was a lot of fear, anxiety, and grief over the changes. I’m not immune to the less delightful experiences as well.
All of my work can still be fully done with slight adjustments. I was already working primarily from home. I was running a community through an art center, running my personal astrology business, and teaching some classes. Now, I’m doing all of that at home. The only difference is that I take the classes online.
For me, it’s just been cutting out a lot of the fluff. Cutting out the commutes, cutting out having to get my energy ready for the next thing so many times throughout the day. I haven’t had an 8-hour workday since I quit my classroom teaching job a few years ago, so it’s been disjunct.
Now, I feel like I just have a lot more freedom, even though I had most of this freedom before. I just wasn’t giving myself permission to operate the autonomy I had. I kept putting pressure on myself to fit my schedule into something that looked more like our conventional, capitalistic calendaring of the week.
Now, I feel like I’ve let out a deep sigh of relief and allowed myself to get more in touch with my natural rhythm, which is making it so I’m as productive with a lot less stress.
My hope for everyone is that we all have an adjustment of values. We need to look a little more from a wider lens at our relationship to work and schedules. It is important to recognize that we really don’t need to be in a constant rat race.
There is no reason that we can’t slow down and have more autonomy with what we’re doing with our time. We should not be so be oppressed by a schedule that doesn’t fit a natural way of living. I don’t want to bypass the pain of everything going on. I definitely feel it and know that I have a lot of privilege.
There’s a lot of people struggling more than I am. But, I feel that there’s a definite, absolute silver lining being offered a chance to awaken to what is wrong with the pressures of society put on individuals.
In some ways, it feels like this is what I’ve been waiting for. Again not to bypass the pain, but it does feel like something beyond human control that’s forcing us to evaluate some of our priorities. I’m grateful for that.
How Quarantine Made Me Appreciate My Family Even More
Hong Kong, China
It was about 2 months ago when I received a notification from my school that I had to evacuate and return home. The notification came out of the blue and I was shocked. As I started packing my bags, I thought about how this might be the last time I see many of my friends here because I was supposed to graduate this semester.
The thought was extremely saddening but I knew that safety had to come first before anything, so I accepted the reality and boarded my flight from London back to Hong Kong. Little did I know, that would be the least of my worries in just a matter of days.
When I arrived in Hong Kong, I did not go home because I was afraid that had I contracted the coronavirus, I would’ve possibly infected my parents. Instead, I decided to self-quarantine in a hotel.
For the first three days, I felt completely fine and that was expected due to the extreme measures I had taken on my flight to ensure my safety. I had put on a couple of masks as well as a scarf and not once during the 12-hour flight did I take my mask off or go to the bathroom. Therefore, I was extremely surprised when I experienced headaches as well as a minor cough on the fourth day of my quarantine.
My thoughts immediately went to the coronavirus and I was terrified. Not for myself, but for my parents who had visited me at my hotel room. I knew that even if I contracted it, I would most likely survive. However, I was less sure about my parents because we had learned that it is a lot more fatal towards older people.
The next few hours were a blur. I was transferred to a hospital before being assigned to an isolation ward. Before long, it was my turn to be tested. First, I had an X-Ray and then they swabbed my saliva. However, the worst part came next.
Basically, I had a tube shoved up my nose and I ended up feeling it in the back of my throat. My eyes started watering and it was the most uncomfortable feeling I had ever experienced.
The test came back negative for coronavirus but positive for pneumonia. I couldn’t help but feel relieved even though I realized I had pneumonia. My parents were safe and that was all that mattered to me. I still had to stay in the isolation ward which was extremely boring but I was just grateful that I had not contracted the coronavirus.
Looking back, this ordeal was one of the most stressful situations I’ve had to go through in my life. However, it taught me one thing. To appreciate my family more. Just the thought that I could’ve lost them had me going crazy for hours before the diagnosis came through.
They are the most important people in my life and this ordeal has at least helped me reinforce that concept. So, in a way, I’m almost grateful it happened.
How Creating Self-Portraits Helped Me Stay Positive During Quarantine
At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, I remember being in the middle of one of my classes, and everyone starting to freak out. I tried to stay calm but in reality, I was panicking. My main concern was how the rest of my academic career was going to play out.
After packing up my things and heading home, I started thinking to myself. Some of my passions include fashion and photography. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do much with either since I had to stay indoors. That’s when it hit me, I was going to start doing at home self-portraits to help my creativity flowing.
Doing this not only helped me with my creativity but also helped me stay sane and expand on my passions. Most of the supplies that I needed could be found around the house, so that was not a problem. I even found a way to incorporate my at home self-portraits into my academics.
Although being in quarantine seems everlasting and boring, I think it is important to find a way to express yourself. For me, it was photography, but for my mom it was sewing. Everyone has their own hobbies that they are passionate about, and I believe that this is the perfect time to explore them.
I try to stay positive because being negative won’t get me anywhere in life. For those struggling with quarantine, I encourage you all to find your passion.
Something that excited you and makes you want to wake up in the morning. I also advise everyone to see the light at the end of the tunnel and help out as much as you can.
How Quarantine Allowed Me To Rebuild My Difficult Relationship With My Mother
Mountain View, California
Just seven weeks ago, I was waking up to my colorful new life in Florence, Italy, where I was spending my junior year abroad. I woke up to the smell of savory cappuccinos waiting for me at my host family’s breakfast table. I went to bed listening to the nighttime chatter of my 6-year old host siblings bickering in the kitchen.
I was growing into myself, stepping away from the pervasive anxiety I felt as a college student who was eager to please everyone but myself and for the first time, finding solace in who I truly was— alone, unencumbered, and stripped away of all pretensions and facades I put up in college.
In Italy, I found solace in being alone. I found peace in being anonymous, and strength in the power to make my own decisions. In a place that was brand new and where I knew absolutely no one, I felt my most free. Each day was fresh, new, enticing— full of possibility. I didn’t feel like I had to dress a certain way or behave a certain way just to attract certain friends. I felt as though I could be fully myself.
My 12 week stay in Italy was cut in half and before I knew it, I was on a plane back to the US, and, to my dismay, slowly falling back into the same anxious habits. I fought daily with my mother, and for the first week rarely left my bedroom. I slept in as late as I could to avoid the reality of my situation— being stuck at home with a family member I constantly disagreed with.
It took a major argument between my mother and I, one which devolved into a complete breakdown of tears, guilt, and sadness, to realize that we needed to mend our difficult relationship in order to find happiness under the same roof. We took the opportunity to agree to a dual therapy session in which we would dutifully and honestly bring our own baggage to the table.
Talking through my relationship with my mother in the presence of a therapist has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. We came to conclusions about our needs and boundaries in our relationship. We figured out that, while our goals were the same, we were pursuing them in different ways.
My mother and I both craved acceptance and love from one another, but just had different ways of expressing it. We both yearned for love and acceptance despite our differences and ultimately concluded that we would work around our differences in opinion to pursue a positive relationship.
I know these quiet months in quarantine can be a great time for self-reflection and growth.
It can be a time to mend, grow, and heal from traumas of the past and to find peace to rebuild broken relationships with loved ones.
After finding peace and solace in Italy and coming back to personal wreckage in the US, I was reluctant to fall into old habits. The most stressful part of my life, my difficult relationship with my mother, was what I choose to protect and heal when I had the time to concentrate on it.
How Quarantine Transformed My Hometown Farmers Market
Pleasantville, New York
Going to my hometown farmer’s market every Saturday used to be one of the highlights of my week. My Dad, younger brother, and I would go together at around 10 am and beeline to our favorite cheese man for a pound of ‘rustic Drumm cheese’ and apple biscuits.
It’s hard to describe, but the energy at this market mixed with the smell of homemade waffles and pesto always felt like the ultimate wave of serotonin and bliss. Everything was simple at the Saturday morning farmer’s market.
When the quarantine in New York went into effect, I watched as everything I had ever known closed. My parents and stepparents traded in their suits and dress pants for pajamas, and my brother and collective five step-siblings and I contemplated upwards of 2-3 months stranded in the house together.
Two weeks later in April, the farmer’s market remarkably reopened for business. I was overjoyed and ready for some fresh air, and my brother and I eagerly set out at 10 am to get in the cheese line. When we got there, we saw that things were drastically different.
Everyone had to wear a mask, only three people could be in line at any given booth, hand washing stations had been scattered across the parking lot, families could not go into the market together and had to send in one person to shop, and the line to enter was about an hour long.
My brother went to wait in the car and I stood in line, mask and all, nervously watching the people around me. In front of me was a small, frail, older woman who seemed to be shaking nervously herself. She clutched her reusable shopping bag with urgency.
She turned to meet my gaze, and her eyes crinkled upwards above the edge of her mask, hiding her smiling mouth. I smiled back, hoping she would see the warmth through my eyes too.
‘This is pretty crazy, huh?’ She said, shaking her head and looking down at the floor. I nodded and asked her what market treasure she was waiting in this long line for. ‘Just soup and bread,’ she answered. ‘I’m worried that my favorite vendor won’t make it in this economy. She’s a single mom with four kids, and I want to buy as much from her as I can.’
My gaze softened as I watched this woman’s frail, age-speckled hands nervously clutching her bag. She could certainly be considered high-risk and probably should stay home, but had risked her health to support someone struggling.
‘If you want, I can go in and buy soup and bread from her for both of us?’ I exclaimed, gesturing to the un-moving line. ‘No use for both of us to have to wait in line, and I’d really like to help out your friend too!’ The woman pondered this, sizing me up and straining to see the tent of her favorite vendor ahead. She finally nodded and smiled, gesturing to her car that was parked just a few feet away.
After another 30 minutes, I made it into the market and went straight to the vendor the woman told me about. She, too, had kind eyes, and she thanked me with them as I bought four quarts of soup and two loaves of bread. After delivering the goodies to my friend from line, I rushed home to eat. It was arguably the best soup and bread I’ve ever had.
How I Found Peace Through Meditation During Quarantine
St. Paul, Minnesota
When I woke up in my dorm room on Tuesday, March 5, I expected to have a regular day at St. Olaf College. The outbreak of Coronavirus caused my school to extend spring break, yet we planned to finish up the week beforehand normally. I checked my phone and saw the email telling us to get off of campus as soon as possible. Don’t wait till the end of the week. Leave immediately.
I was completely thrown off. I hadn’t packed my things, I still needed to take a midterm and finish a project for my printmaking course. I had no idea if we would return to campus so I didn’t know what to pack. I got my things together quickly, throwing random clothing items and anything I thought I might want for the rest of the year in cardboard boxes.
I was heartbroken that I would be leaving my friends and my home. But I knew it was the right thing to do. This wasn’t about me. It was much bigger than this inconvenience in my life. I said goodbye to my friends, hugging them for extra long because I didn’t know the next time I would see them. I moved back home with my parents, something I didn’t expect to do anytime in the foreseeable future.
The first few weeks of quarantine were the hardest for me. The rapid change of lifestyle was shocking. I had lost my friends, my freedom, and my home in a blink of an eye.
I knew how privileged I was, but that didn’t stop the rapid deterioration of my mental health. I told myself that this time would be perfect for learning the piano, working on my novel, and making art. While I did these things sometimes, I found motivation for even the most simple tasks incredibly difficult. I felt like my life had come to a screeching halt, and my hope for the future had quickly dissipated.
Despite all this, I fell in love with my practice of yoga and meditation more deeply than I ever had before. I found peace every morning that allowed me to continue my day in a productive way. The practice gave me the ability to better control my mind and reactions. The only things that I felt I really could control.
After losing my cousin to cancer, it broke my heart to not be able to even attend her funeral because of the virus. I struggled to find closure but found peace in my meditation that has since allowed me to move forward. Life hasn’t been easy since this all happened for anyone, but I have found a type of acceptance in the condition we are all experiencing together.