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How Quarantine is Helping Me Improve Myself

I am an extremely extroverted person and I thought quarantine would drive me insane. Everything is closed and I can’t go to see my friends unless they’re six feet away. The little things such as going out to eat, studying in my favorite coffee shop, or even going to the gym were taken for granted. To my surprise though, I saw this time as an opportunity to improve myself -- mentally, physically and academically.

  1. 1. Mentally

    I am not a perfect person by any means -- I have a long list of flaws. Flaws are what make us human, everyone has them. Personally, I was holding in a lot of anger and emotions for a long time. Reflecting on these emotions helped me evaluate why I was feeling them in the first place. I’m not saying that these feelings were not valid, but they were starting to affect me negatively. These emotions started to make me bitter when I’m not a bitter person to begin with. I thought, why am I putting so much energy into things I cannot control? Why am I letting it affect me so much?

    Quarantine has given me the time to put my emotions where it really mattered most. I spent more time with my family -- most importantly my mom. My mom is a Filipino immigrant who came to America by herself at 27 years old to follow her dreams. Before the pandemic, I never had the time to spend quality time with her. I go with her to go food shopping when necessary. Also since we are stuck in the house together most of the time, we are actually able to have wholesome conversations with one another. We talked about things that I didn't even know I was comfortable sharing with her. I came to realize that we were a lot more similar than I thought. 

    Despite not seeing my friends, I’m still able to connect with them through other means such as phone calls, Facetime, text messaging, and even watching movies together through Netflix Party. All my friends were struggling with something due to this pandemic. Graduations, internships, and study abroad programs were cancelled. People were laid off and no longer had a source of income. Family members were diagnosed with the virus. Being there as a support system for my friends or even my peers is everything to me. We all need as much support as we can get. 

    I’ve also been putting my energy into community work. I planned a social media campaign for my sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta, for Sexual Assault Awarness Month. The campaign is providing words of encouragement for not only survivors, but for everyone going through this weird and difficult time. I have been contributing to a campaign that will help provide hospitals in New York with supplies. I also created a petition to stop the violence against the Asian/Asian-American community due to the pandemic. 

    This huge amount of free time gave me a chance to get back into some of my passions and do the things I didn’t have time to do before. After graduating from culinary school almost 3 years ago, I thought I was losing that passion I had for cooking simply because I did not have the time to do so. Since the pandemic, I have been cooking up some of my favorite recipes such as homemade pasta and different baked goods. I’ve even been trying some new ones! I’ve also had more time to write, journal, and read the stack of books that I’ve been meaning to read for months. 

    This has helped me shift my focus on what really matters most. I should be putting my energy into things I can control and not what I can’t.

  2. 2. Physically

    Due to the lack of time before the pandemic, I felt I was not able to care and nurture my body as much as I wanted to. I was not getting a lot of sleep. There was always so much caffeine in my system from over drinking coffee and sometimes I did not have time to eat. 

    My physical space and environment at home was also very cluttered. My room was a mess and my closet was unorganized with clothes I was no longer wearing and stuff I did not even need. I even had containers that I had not unpacked when I left my previous college three years ago. I felt that the state of my room was also adding to my stress. 

    The quarantine allowed me to properly take care of my body. I have not drank a single cup of coffee and have been hydrating myself with plenty of water. I have been getting an insane amount of sleep, which has been great. I have also been eating more than I did before and with healthier foods. When it is a beautiful day outside, I make sure to go for a jog around my neighborhood while listening to some of my favorite podcasts. I make sure to do home workouts I find on Youtube to get some cardio and work on different parts of my body each day. 

    I was also able to properly clean and organize my entire room. I even made some minor adjustments. Admittedly, I had a lot of stuffed animals that were on display on a huge shelf in my room that has been there since I was little. I took all those stuffed animals, washed them, and stored them away to be donated to a shelter. I purchased a bunch of small indoor succulents and put them on that shelf along with a few books and an essential oil diffuser. I was able to empty out my closet and put all the unused clothes together so I can donate it to a women’s shelter. I also decluttered and created a work space at my desk since classes and my internship are now online. I feel like I can finally breathe in my room. The less clutter I have in my room, the more comfortable I feel.

  3. 3. Academically

    I’m not saying that I was not a great student before quarantine, but I definitely have more time to dedicate to my studies, internship and professional life. 

    I will say that it has been hard to find the motivation to do online school since I used to do all my work in either the library or a coffee shop. However, I still try to keep a schedule of things I have to get done such as assignments, projects, and deadlines in my planner. For the classes that do meet during usual class times, I still try to interact with my professor and classmates as much as possible. 

    For my internship, I am extremely grateful that I am still able to do it remotely. My internship is with the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers. The main objective of what I do is to write news articles on what students, faculty and alumni are doing. That being said, a lot of what I do is conducting interviews, helping with social media, transcribing, editing, and writing. My internship also allows me to network and make connections with a lot of people. I’m still able to do all these things remotely and it really energizes me. 

    This time has given me the chance to update my resume, LinkedIn, and my portfolio. It has also given me time to apply for future internships and reach out to companies that I want to work for.

The time we have in quarantine is honestly what you make of it, there is no right or wrong way. I feel people expect everyone to pick up a new skill or fully transform themselves into a new person. However, it is completely okay to be sad or not be as productive as you wish. All of us handle things differently and there’s nothing wrong with that. One thing I do know is that we will get through this. Together.