What I Learned About Myself During the Pandemic

As the final semester of this virtual chapter of my life closes (fingers crossed it’s the last one), I’m taking time to look back on all of the time I spent with myself. Through isolation and social distancing, I’ve gotten to know myself better than I ever have before in my twenty-one years on earth. I encourage you to do the same so that we know how to nurture ourselves in the after time. 

I love to cook

Food gets me out of bed in the morning—that’s something I knew from the before time. But, the pandemic heightened my appreciation for all things food. School and part-time remote internships were the only plans I really ever had all this school year, so in between my breaks, you could find me in the kitchen. Taking time to make meals for myself and family members reminded me to slow it all down. If everything else in myself felt like it was tumbling down, at least I could find ease in the kitchen. This affection reminds me that we all need something to look forward to in our days. Hopefully my final year at The New School will find me eating out more, but I’m also hoping to make a home out of a small New York apartment kitchen as well. Dinner party, anyone?

I really love New York, but I also love home

Just like everyone else who decides to attend college in New York City, I ❤️ NY—but not in that way. Being away from New York for one year and three months (that’s 15 months or 65 weeks or 455 days, but who’s counting?) made me realize how much I actually love the city. By the time the pandemic rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. I am lucky enough to say that going home was a gift in disguise; I was in need of a break from the hustle and bustle, and being home with nothing to do all summer awarded me that retreat. Once 2021 hit, I was ready to return back to Manhattan and I’ve been counting the days ever since. New York pushes me out of my comfort zone every single day, whereas home is the biggest comfort blanket I’ve ever known. I know that I’m not meant to stay comfortable all my life. The wildest things happen outside of your comfort zone, isn’t that what they always say? 

I crave structure, but hate repetition

In my morning and nightly routines, in my workout routines and during mealtimes, I like knowing what to expect. With so much time on my hands, it was easy to fall into routines that I loved at first. In the mornings, I’d get up and stretch for fifteen minutes, brush my teeth and greet my family members who were also working and learning from home. A month or two later, that routine became old, so I switched it up by replacing my stretching routine with fifteen minutes of journaling. Two months later it was getting up early to make myself and my dad breakfast, and you guessed it, that became old too (sorry, Dad). Routines are essential to my daily productivity, but I have to be interested in them or else I’m going to fall off my tracks. Switching just one step in my many daily structures keeps me engaged in my day and excited to take on my tasks, even if it means sitting at the kitchen table all day staring at a screen. 

My sense of self is all out of whack

This is not a bad thing, and I’ve only come to accept this in recent weeks. With not much else going on, I spent a lot of time alone; I got to know myself on a much deeper level than ever before through bouts of actual isolation (i.e. quarantining from my family) and social distancing (you know, only waving to best friends and your significant other from across the street). Like many of us, I went through a handful of identity crises in the past year; some days I wanted to move to the Mediterranean to learn how to cook, and others I wanted to be a New York City-based influencer shopping her way through the city—we’ve all had these wild daydreams. You’d see me in jeans for a few days, and the rest of the week I was in leggings. There were times where I cursed myself for studying something so fluid instead of something concrete like the rest of my friends from home. From all this back and forth, I can assure you that 1) the grass is always greener on the other side and 2) you are not alone on the journey of figuring out oneself. With events, plans and goals stripped from us, it was hard to figure out who you were most days of this pandemic. And while I’m still not sure who I want to be when I’m getting dressed in the morning, I always promise myself to make myself comfortable. You only have yourself in the end, so change as many times as it makes you happy.