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What Eleven Months of Quarantine Taught Me About Perspective

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

I’ll never forget March 13 of last year. My tennis team and I had been playing matches against other Division III schools at the USTA Center in Orlando, Florida when we learned that the Coronavirus was spreading rapidly in the United States. Suddenly, the season we had trained all year for was canceled and the rest of our college semester would be conducted online. I distinctly remember driving from Orlando down to my hometown of Sunrise with my parents. We were all speechless. We knew things were going to be different. To make things even more complicated, my 93-year-old grandma was moving in with us that weekend, plans made before the pandemic even began. Naively, a part of me thought the virus would last a few months and then magically disappear. A year later, I recognize how ignorant and privileged I was to have had such thoughts. 

Returning home I, like everyone else, begrudgingly adjusted to “the new normal.” I remember feeling robbed. Suddenly, I had no social life, no sport to motivate me, no team to contribute to. I felt stagnant and useless. Living at home with my parents and grandma, I felt like I had regressed to a younger version of myself who yearned to move out and go to college. There were a few weeks I just felt so sorry for myself as if I was the only person in the world making necessary sacrifices for the sake of public health. 

But somewhere in those first few weeks, my view of quarantine began to change. I realized that for the first time in my life, I had the opportunity and privilege to focus completely on myself. Suddenly I had an abundance of time and space to reflect and figure out how I could improve. More importantly, I recognized how others did not have the same resources and that I should truly value this time rather than viewing it so negatively. This isn’t to say that I didn’t allow myself to wallow once in a while or process my feelings of loss and disappointment; rather, I began to see a larger picture beyond my personal experiences and challenges. 

Essentially, the pandemic and eleven months of strict quarantine taught me the value of perspective. 

woman stretching in bed
Photo by Bruce Mars from Unsplash

Living with my grandma definitely helped me gain more perspective. She too, underwent a huge transition, leaving her home and neighborhood of forty years to live with us under new and bizarre circumstances. Yet she did so with grace and acceptance. And while she communicated her feelings of missing her neighbors and friends, she still carried on with her days, finding pieces of joy in small and simple things. But what really surprised me was how unphased she was by the pandemic. With 93 years under her belt, she recognized the temporality of the pandemic when my parents and I couldn’t. I also felt like I actually got to know and spend time with my grandma as an adult. Living with each other, we’ve now seen all sides of each other – the good, the bad – all of it. And now I’m really grateful I had that year to truly get to know her. 

Living back home also gave me a perspective I feel I lost while at school. Those who attend Kenyon know how it can feel like a bubble. For me, everything at Kenyon feels bigger because the school is so small. Every little fight, every bad grade, every source of stress feels more consuming because the school is so small. But leaving the bubble and returning home gave me the clarity I needed. I had to recognize that I wasn’t always happy at school, even though I wanted to go back so badly. I learned that my happiness and worth aren’t reliant on being in a specific place or having a team around me or constantly being around people. I found, to my surprise, that I like being by myself and giving myself space from others to process things. Being home and away from people gave me the confidence to know that I can be happy and satisfied without getting constant validation from those around me. 

self care isnt selfish sign
Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels

More broadly, quarantine also gave me a lot of perspective regarding larger social issues I had been too privileged and blind to really think about critically in the past. The pandemic really exposed deep-set issues in America as COVID affected people disproportionately along socio-economic and racial lines. Seeing how those in my own community were affected by the pandemic, I recognized how lucky I am to have a safe home to study remotely in and parents who can financially support me. Seeing the power of the Black Lives Matter movement was another eye-opening experience that made me question pretty much everything. It also made me realize that educating ourselves on racial issues requires vigilance, constant reevaluation, and reflection. Gaining that perspective was an entirely distinct experience that requires its own article to articulate.

There are so many other things I learned from quarantine that I could never really put into words. But looking back I don’t think I would have changed it. Had I not gone through eleven months stuck in the house with tons of time on my hands I don’t think I would have gained the perspective that I have today. And while I know there is so much more that I have to learn about myself and the world around me, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year that I feel will serve me well today and in the future.

Anna Winslow

Kenyon '22

Anna Winslow is a Political Science major at Kenyon College from South Florida. Given her state of origin, Anna prefers warm weather and can be seen struggling in the cold throughout Kenyon's campus. She's a big fan of tennis, soap operas and scuba diving.