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Listen – I’m an introvert, so when I adjusted to the fact that I was going to have to stay inside for God knows how long, I couldn’t believe my luck. While I’ve been extremely privileged to have a mostly comfortable lockdown experience, it still hasn’t been all I thought it was going to be. I’ve struggled with school, finances, and my mental health, for weeks at a time. But through it all, the one thing I’m most grateful for is the different ways I’ve been able to cope using my creativity.


In The Great Before, I was a busy person, and I liked it that way. I didn’t like that I didn’t always have the time to work on the projects I dreamed about, but I liked being busy because it made my free time more special. In lockdown, however, I found myself with an abundance of time to myself, and it provided ample room to explore my creative boundaries when I needed it. 


With all this extra time, I was able to write more for myself and not anyone else. I experimented with different kinds of content on my Instagram story when I got bored and it helped me find more of my voice in my online presence. I poured myself into video projects, setting higher production standards for myself that I finally had the time to plan out and achieve. 


I’ve taken more self-timer photos than I’ve ever taken in my life. Never have I thought so much about a photoshoot concept, exploring my wardrobe and heightening my fashion sense for inspiration. I’ve spent even more time editing those photos, expanding and experimenting with my Photoshop skills. My progress with these projects inspired me to launch a fundraising campaign for black queer organizations where I made custom profile pictures for my friends in exchange for donations. 


To mitigate racing thoughts and general anxiety, I’d turn on a TV show and embroider a number of projects until I felt better. Concentrating on doing something with my hands forced me to take a break from whatever might have been stressing me out for a while, and combined with the TV show in front of me I was able to take my mind off it completely. 


What was most remarkable about all of these explorations, however, was that they were all things I had dreamed of maybe doing someday, but never really had a plan as to when or how I’d start. I never woke up one day and said, “Today I’m going to do x, y, and z.” Having some extra time to myself, I reflexively chose these paths. Whether it was boredom or necessity that drove me to these outlets, I knew I always had the freedom to pursue them because of all my spare time.  


In retrospect, “forced” is a strong word. I’d say it was more like quarantine “enabled” my creativity, but it was more than that. It taught me the value of making time for yourself. I used to be so busy, and I look forward to being busy again, but as life slowly returns to normal, I’m making sure I still have time for personal development. I’m not waiting for the second wave to explore potential passions.

Brielle is a sophomore at Montclair State University double-majoring in Communication/Media Arts and French, with a minor in Film. Writing has been her passion since age eight and she's so excited to pursue it in the real world. When she's not writing, she's usually at the movies, listening to podcasts, or scrolling through Twitter. Catch her at Starbucks or follow her on Instagram and Twitter under her handle: @breezegiveshugs.
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