Okay people, let’s be honest – 2020 sucks. It’s like 2016 but worse. 2020 feels like a kick in the face to everyone across the globe. It doesn’t matter who you are; we have all lost an enormous amount of time, opportunity, but most of all, we have lost joy – myself included. I was supposed to see Still Woozy and Harry Styles in concert, join a service fraternity, celebrate turning twenty surrounded by my best friends, but perhaps the biggest loss of all? I was to study abroad in Prague during the 2020 fall semester. When I got sent home from school on March 13th, it felt as though the world was ending, and I cried myself to sleep that night. But what I didn’t know was that the sixth months I spent at home would be the most transformative of my twenty years.
As soon as I returned home, I knew that routine was going to be the key to maintaining my sanity during the spring months. As someone who despises idle time, I needed to think about how I could not come down with a case of quarantine depression; an easy solution was to continue my daily running habit. While a daily run was more difficult to maintain at school, in quarantine it was a piece of cake. With so much ample time, I had no problem waking up at 6:30a.m. and running for as long as I liked. I even added in the strength routine that was far more elusive at school due to a lack of time. Now in quarantine I had nothing but time. And sure enough, that time lended itself to a daily routine: wake up at 6:30, run, shower, eat breakfast, get some work done, class from 10-2pm, do some more classwork, relax, eat dinner, family time (read: setback), bedtime, repeat.
And with this routine did the spring months pass effortlessly. Although I just missed my goal of making Dean’s List, I had never felt more confident and sure of myself. The daily runs and strength circuit had physically molded me into a strong and capable body that I knew would take me far. Mentally, I felt as though I could conquer any challenge that life could throw at me. Emotionally, I had finally had the solitude I needed to reflect on myself, my friends, past relationships, and realize that I am enough. I am enough. By the end of May, I knew I was well on my way to achieving the idealized version of me, the person I want to be when I graduate college.
And yet, throughout the spring and summer months, I continued to hear phrases like “Quarantine is making me depressed” or “I am so bored” or my personal favorite “LET ME OUT”. Social media was blowing up with images of nurses working around the clock to keep the public healthy. Grocery store workers put their health on the line every day to ensure we were fed. Minority communities suffered more from the debilitating effects of COVID-19 while I lived comfortably in suburban Connecticut. I externally expressed sympathy for those who had been most impacted from COVID-19, but I internally felt unbelievable guilt. While I was thriving in quarantine, those on the other side of the COVID-19 battle were suffering. And to add insult to injury, I was able to keep my summer job while countless others had lost theirs. I didn’t want to express my newfound gratitude for quarantine to anyone outside of my immediate family.
And while I continue to keep my inner feelings on quarantine to myself, I gradually came to the realization – from the daily morning runs to school to my amazing summer job as a camp counselor – that it is okay to be feeling not okay during quarantine, but it is also okay to be okay during quarantine too. I am so thankful for the almost three months of solitude because that time alone has given me time to think about what I want out of my future, and what I want out of life. Quarantine gave me a jump start to my future, an opportunity to reflect and a vision of the woman I can become.
So, as I continue on the journey to my better self, a parting thought: While it is absolutely okay to not be okay, it is also okay to be okay.