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Alone, But No Longer Lonely

We can all agree that quarantine has been a rough almost ten months. Being stuck in our homes has placed quite a toll on many, many people’s mental health, including my own. What I didn’t expect, however, is that this lockdown forced me to re-learn what I take joy in doing. Because of this I can honestly say that there have been quite a few “bright-sides” of being stuck within my own mind.


During the first few months of being at home last spring, I was struggling with having to entertain myself for all hours of the day. Fortunately, this time was spent enrolled in my final quarter of classes for the school year. I didn’t really have to find things to keep my mind moving because of the constant stress of my course work. 


Then, disaster struck. Finals were over, and I had virtually nothing to do. 


Before moving home, when I was bored or felt too alone, I would simply walk to a friend’s room: merely sitting in the presence of another human, or playing card games while jamming out to our favorite music. Having so many people around- and the ability to spend time with them- made it much easier to keep myself occupied. For obvious reasons, that hasn’t been possible since moving back into my parent’s home. 


Now, you might be thinking, “Just go to the park, or go on a drive. Just do something,” and I would absolutely love to. Pre-quarantine me would have done those things without a second thought because I could stop by a friend’s house on the way and drag them along. The problem is, when I am feeling absolutely alone, those small trips do nothing to quell my feeling of isolation. My mind tends to wander incredibly easily, so driving or walking by myself leaves me alone with my thoughts instead of pulling me out of them.


With this new task of finding things to keep my mind busy, I began to try out small hobbies and projects: I sketched little scenes on numerous pieces of wood and began to paint them with watercolor (which I have yet to complete); I binged hours upon hours of new shows and read piles of new books; I reorganized my living and working spaces while listening to music from new artists and genres that seemed to be drawing me in deeper and deeper. 


You might not know it, but all of the things I just listed? They are all activities that I buried myself in when I was younger, especially the books and shows. One of my favorite things has always been immersing myself into different worlds of fantasy or sci-fi by either reading and imagining scenes unfold, or watching it sprawl out before me. Recently, I have started to see this common thread of people reverting back to their childhood joys as a way to keep themselves occupied. The most obvious reason for this, I believe, is that now people are much less likely to be spending time around others  so there is less of a chance of being judged for pastimes. Folks that love spending their time playing video games and D&D or reading fantasy novels by the dozen would often be labeled as “nerds” (not that that is a bad thing, I personally consider myself a nerd). Now, these things are seen as a creative way to spend time when there is nothing else to do. 


Looking back on the last almost ten months of my life, I can proudly say that I have been genuinely happy with my self-growth. Despite the world being in shambles, I was able to figure out what brings me true joy. 


To anyone that might find themselves with a similar conundrum as I had last year: take a breather, remind yourself of what your child-self loved, and try one of those old hobbies out. No one is going to judge you in the current state of the world; I will be the first to personally cheer you on.

Heya! I'm Amy, an astrophysics major at UCSC! I love to spend my time stargazing, hiking, hanging out with my cats, and getting lost in a good book.
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