I don’t think anyone was as excited as me to go back to school. I had just gone through the strangest, and in some ways, the most difficult summer of my life. My grandfather, who I was so close to, passed away. My other grandparents all got sick or ended up in freak accidents accruing physical injuries. My family moved from New Jersey to North Carolina – exciting but also terrifying because I left behind all of the memories from my hometown. This also made seeing my friends much more difficult.
Being at school, I had a chance to put the summer behind me. I’d be back with my friends in the dorms, just a short trip away from my hometown, and embracing a world of new opportunities entering my junior year. After a treacherous nine-hour drive up to Mercy, I started unpacking my bags at the dorms, ready to move in.
At the front desk of Hudson Hall, I was told that I would not be staying in the dorms, and for the next two weeks, I would be placed under a mandatory quarantine.
My mind was racing, spinning, and honestly, I was in disbelief. I meandered over to the hotel, where I was checked in and was told that I would not be able to leave under any circumstances besides an emergency.
The rules were clear. The only time I’d be able to leave my room was to get food or do my laundry.
No walks. No hangouts with friends. No going to work. No going to the gym. Life was be confined to my room, without even the comfort of my family.
At first, I entered a bit of a state of shock. I thought to myself, “This’ll be fine. I’ll just watch a lot of TV and it’ll be over before I know it.”
Of course, this wasn’t the case, and the extrovert that I am began feeling the grueling realities of a true isolative quarantine. I was constantly bored, not knowing what to do. I felt jealous of my friends and family who were out living their lives while I was forced to be in this strange hotel cooped up with only my thoughts.
My thoughts raced like they never had before. I overthought all the relationships in my life; how connections I’d made would be ruined, and how this quarantine completely disrupted my flow for how I wanted to enter the school year.
It was at that moment that I started to think about the word “disruption.” This word has an inherently negative connotation, but I began to think about it with a positive spin.
What if I used this time in isolation for self-development – to finally work on that screenplay I’ve been itching to finish? What if I didn’t mope around in sadness; harping on the things I was missing out on, but instead focused on myself and the things I needed to change.
I began working out again; doing circuits in the small space that I had. I also began to practice autodidactism, which is the art of self-education. I watched Youtube videos about how to become a better writer and taking a more methodical approach to my own personal goals. I practiced meditation and mindfulness; to accept my situation and find the determination to make the best of it.
14 days passed and I could finally leave. On the car ride back, I thought about all of the positive things I did for myself during the quarantine. I was proud of the progress I’d made on personal projects and goals, but also elated that I could finally see my friends again. The experience made me appreciate my friends in an entirely different light.
There is truly a priceless aspect of being part of a community. Saying “hi” to the cashier at the supermarket; playing video games with a friend; and simply spending time with family, are all things I took for granted every day before I entered quarantine. I now appreciate on a new level the time I spend with other people, but also know that if I have to be alone, I can.
So, to those of you that are currently in quarantine or are deathly afraid of entering one, you’ll be okay. Don’t pout and get caught in your thoughts. Spend the time wisely; use it to your advantage. Get some things done and you’ll be out before you know it.