Dear Quarantine

Landing back home from Chicago at 10 p.m. and getting blasted with phone notifications about Trump closing the borders, when I had to leave for London the next day, was definitely a rude awakening. COVID-19 was a slap in the face for all of us, forcing us to abandon our day-to-day routines and practice social distancing (a term that I had never heard of before but have now grown tired of hearing). When 2020 came around, I thought it would be the year for traveling, concerts and life-changing experiences. And while the traveling and concerts have been postponed (not canceled, please, I’m talking to you Harry!), life-changing experiences have happened —​ only not in the way I thought they would. 

Here are ten things I’ve learned about myself since March of 2020.

  1. 1. Music has been & always will be my savior

    From Lady Gaga to Dua Lipa, so many artists have released amazing music that has kept all of us dancing through these tough times. I realized that I truly cannot go a day without blasting music in some shape or form, even wearing my AirPods in the shower (sorry mom!). Music has always been a part of me since I was young, but it’s during these months of quarantining that music and I have bonded like never before. It's kept me sane, happy and whole. One album that changed my outlook on life and kept me positive was Harry Styles’ Fine Line album. I had moments where I wanted to give up and was mad at the world, but when he said “We’ll be alright," all of that anger and resentment washed away. 

  2. 2. I have a slight shopping addiction

    Harry Styles Wave

    With TikTok promoting small businesses or Harry Styles inspired merchandise, I spent way too much time and money on things I most definitely didn’t need (but still really enjoyed)! From a candle that smells like “One Direction Getting Back Together” to about five different Harry Styles themed crewnecks, and more, I've learned to limit my time looking through Etsy. 

  3. 3. I’m a terrible procrastinator

    Even with the world at a halt, I still managed to procrastinate many different things in my life. I bought all of the Percy Jackson books off of Amazon in March…I haven’t read them yet! I signed up for a Beauty Essentials course at FIT that expires in December…I haven’t logged in yet! I planned to launch my YouTube channel that I’ve dreamed of having since 2014…I still haven’t recorded a single video! I was determined to start a weight loss and fitness journey and glow up like half of the TikTok population has…I fell off. And while I always knew I was an avid procrastinator, I didn’t realize until quarantine that I truly had a problem and needed to work on managing my time more wisely. 

  4. 4. My best ideas come when I’m about to fall asleep

    Before quarantine, I would sit at my desk and force myself to come up with ideas for articles, future YouTube videos, Instagram content, etc. Now with extra time on my hands, I've realized that all my best ideas come when I’m lying in bed with my purple dumpling light on, about to fall asleep. Maybe it’s my brain working or Harry Styles’ calming voice praising me and soothing me to sleep, but hey, at least I now know what to do. Knowing this now, I open my notes app before going to bed, just in case an idea strikes and I want to write it down quickly. 

  5. 5. I don’t have fashion sense 

    During quarantine, I decided to do some spring cleaning and throw away clothes I didn’t use or that didn’t fit me anymore (Marie Kondo style, of course!), and I slowly realized I don’t have any style! Because I’ve lived fighting against body image issues and trying to hide my body, I’ve settled on wearing the simplest of clothes, not anything that I actually want to wear or love. From baggy crewnecks to simple t-shirts, I’ve settled on wearing clothing that hides my body and doesn’t make me stand out in crowds. I now plan to expand my wardrobe, figure out what I like and want to wear, and buy clothes that I think are cute. I don’t simply want to hide anymore; I want to find myself, how I want to dress, and how I want to be seen. 

  6. 6.  My love for Wattpad re-awakened 

    I used to read fanfictions religiously back in 2011, but I slowly stopped opening the Wattpad app…until quarantine. With my best friend Gabbi constantly bugging me to read Aerial (which ended with me sobbing for hours at 5 a.m., BTW) mixed with my boredom, I decided to re-download the app and start reading. My inner 11-year-old was living, and I had forgotten just how many talented and underrated writers there are on there! If any of you are looking for a sign to start reading fanfiction again, this is it! 

  7. 7. I am obsessed with TikTok

    phone with tiktok logo on the grass

    While I don’t record any TikToks, I LOVE watching them for hours and hours, incessantly scrolling down the "For You" page. From DeepTok, to POVTok, to Harry Potter/Draco Tok, I’ve grown to really love the app and have developed a questionable sense of humor because of it. My sisters and I argue over who’s on the best side of TikTok and constantly share them with each other, and Gabbi sends me over 99+ TikToks a day. All in all, it's become a daily thing to watch them, and the constant fear of it getting banned is a scare that definitely doesn’t go unnoticed by me.

  8. 8. I love taking pictures/editing them for Instagram

    Before quarantine, I had a seemingly normal feed. I posted whatever I wanted and didn’t think twice about it. Fast forward to now, and I've been posting more carefully-curated images, interacting with my followers on my stories, and getting amazing partnership opportunities (like with Maybelline, Grubhub, and Kitty and Vibe!) I’ve branded myself as a “Content Creator," and while that term still makes me slightly uncomfortable, I love showing off my creativity online and building a little community where I don’t feel judged! I went from having 500 followers before quarantine to now having almost 1800! Overall, I'm really excited about the opportunities I’ve had thus far, and I’m so grateful to everyone who has ever interacted with my content at any point! 

  9. 9. It’s dangerous to compare yourself to others 

    heart on a string

    I’ve always known this, but I was always guilty of comparing myself to people — from comparing academic success, to social media presence, to body/weight. I constantly found that I would compare myself to those around me and wonder why I didn’t have a better GPA, a bigger social media audience, or why I looked the way I do. During quarantine, I’ve learned to love who I am, what I’ve achieved and how I look. It’s okay to not be on the same level as others, because everyone has their own path in life and everyone is working hard to achieve their goals. And while you think people have their lives figured out, they're also wondering the same thing about themselves in comparison to others around them! Life is short, so spending the time we’ve got comparing ourselves to others isn't a good way to live at all. 

  10. 10. I haven’t reached my weight loss/fitness goal, and that’s okay 

    woman measuring her hips with a yellow measuring tape

    I’ve always struggled with body image and my weight, throughout my entire life. I’ve never been satisfied with how I look, and I always wanted to try the latest fad diet to see if I could look thinner quicker. During quarantine, I noticed people on TikTok having insane glow ups, doing the Chloe Ting challenge and showing off their healthy meals. I tried the Chloe Ting challenge for a while and stopped, tried only eating salads for my meals, and gave up. I’ve concluded that it’s okay not to reach my goals quickly, because weight loss and a healthy lifestyle change takes time. Focusing on a number on the scale isn’t healthy, and the most important thing is that once you start, you don't give up. I’m still trying to find the motivation to keep going and find a routine that works for me, but I now understand that setting myself up for failure isn’t something I should do. Instead, I should set short-term, attainable goals that can add up so I can reach my long-term goals eventually. I do have goals for next year, but now I understand the best approach for them and I’m no longer beating myself down for not exercising one day. 

Quarantine has been hell for many people, and we’ve had to adjust to a new lifestyle, but it hasn’t been the worst thing to happen. I'm not saying COVID-19 is something we needed, because we could’ve lived happily without it, but I think practicing social distancing and quarantining were things the world needed, so people could take a breather, learn about basic human rights, learn about themselves, and take time to change for the better. 

I still say F**k 2020, but hey, at least I’ve learned a lot about myself because of it.