It certainly was not a conscious choice for me to spend quarantine alone, it just kind of happened. There were rumblings of the city being put into quarantine, and I kept putting off going home, thinking maybe I’d take the train home back to Massachusetts tomorrow, and then tomorrow just never came until it was too late and too much of a risk to travel across states.
So here I am! By myself in New York City, arguably the WORST place to be right now, for 3+ weeks and probably for another 1.5 months, at least. I’ve had person-to-person contact with the people at, like, CVS – but that’s it. I haven’t seen any family members or any friends.
The first week was mostly fine. I was jealous of all of the people on Instagram who were shacked up with their significant others, or the people who just happened to get stuck on a random island and were essentially forced to extend their vacations, but Instagram FOMO is something we’ve certainly all experienced, so it basically felt like any other day! I was laid off from two of my other jobs (aside from writing), which obviously was scary, but out of my control. So, in the end, I was kind of like, okay, the universe is forcing me to be lazy – what can I do?
But then the second week came, and the second week sucked. It got off to a terrible start with Monday being my birthday, but even after that I was feeling more alone and scared for the future than ever. I was hearing that this social distancing could last up to 6 months – that’s an insane amount of time to be by yourself. Probably as a result of my anxiety and sadness, I lost all motivation to get any work done. As a writer, how can I pitch lighthearted, comedic stories when I’m so down? All I wanted to do was watch reality TV. Kinda silly to admit, but still true – it was the only thing that could distract me from my negative thoughts about what’s happening to everyone in the world right now.
I was also getting extremely frustrated at the sudden culture around getting sh*t done during the pandemic. I felt like all over Instagram and even in my personal life people were urging me to “create” or “finally focus on all that stuff I didn’t have time to focus on before.” It all felt so insensitive. Staring at the same wall for 3+ weeks hasn’t sparked a single creative bone in my body, believe it or not! I’m sad and I’m alone. I want to give myself a break. Not only do I not want to use this time to get ahead in my career; but I can’t, because I’m not my best self right now.
And for whatever reason – and the reason is probably bitterness! – I was feeling anger towards the people who are talking about “not being able to wait” to go to a crowded bar/restaurant once this is all over. I kept thinking, well, those people haven’t been in complete isolation (am I even going to remember how to socialize after this?!), and definitely aren’t worried about job security. If they were, they wouldn’t even be thinking about partying.
I feel like I’m going to come out of this a different person. I almost wish that I couldn’t wait for this to be over. Unfortunately, I sometimes think that I don’t even want it to be, because then I’ll have to face the reality of finding a new job, having to start over and overall having to be in a good mood when I’m sure I’ll still be feeling the weight of all of this.
*ARTICLE GETS MORE POSITIVE RIGHT HERE*
Now I’m in the third week, and things have gotten slightly better. I’ve developed a routine much like that of an 85-year-old’s! I make sure to take a walk in the morning because I’ve realized that being outside is the only thing that truly makes me feel better. After I take the walk, I’m more motivated to get work done. And then at night, I’ll FaceTime with a friend or watch TV.
I’ve also been truly surprised and extremely grateful for how many people have reached out to make sure I’m okay. I also finally have time to catch up with old friends, and even grow closer to new ones. If I’ve ever said anything negative about technology in the past, I think all of the positive feelings I have for it right now might make up for it! Without technology, we’d be so disconnected and my mental health might not be where it (thankfully) is right now.
I think that the world we’ll face post-COVID-19 is going to be vastly different. But one positive thing to remember is that we’ll all be the more united for it. I hate the following two sayings but I don’t know how else to express my thoughts, so stay strong and remember we’re all in this together. <3