Covid-19 Life

By Lilliana Watling 

On March 13th the US was put under lockdown, and in Pennsylvania Governor Wolf announced that schools would be closed for two weeks.  A couple of weeks later it was announced that all of Pittsburgh would be under quarantine till June.  Many people’s lives have changed since then; nurses and doctors are now working more than ever, and their jobs have become just as dangerous as skydiving without a parachute.  Grocery store lines are like sold-out concert lines and someone coughing warrants the same reaction as the threat of a bomb or a fire.

As a teenager in quarantine, my life has gone from getting on the bus at 7 am and coming back home at 7 pm, to have getting into the car equal the same level of excitement as going on vacation.  At the beginning of quarantine, I was naive in thinking that this would only be two weeks and it would be a nice “reset” in the middle of the year,, and then everyone would go back to school or work.  I soon realized that this quarantine was going to last a lot longer than two weeks and some days I feel like there is a cloud of stress above my head and the only things I have motivation to do is be in comfy clothes, watch tv, read and eat.  Another change that I wasn’t expecting this year was the switch to online school.

Monday through Friday I meet up with my classmates and teachers via zoom, and we talk about school, what’s going on in the world, our lives since the last time we saw each other in person, and the new things that have happened since then.  But after the morning meeting and class we go our separate ways.   It’s harder to do the day's assignments without the encouraging environment of my teachers and classmates.  However, online school isn’t a very new terrain for me.  Before joining City of Bridges High School I did online school and was homeschooled for nine years. During quarantine I have had to relearn how to self motivate, keep myself busy, and find new interesting things to do around the house.  Unlike the last time I did online school there wasn’t  a pandemic going on and things like self-motivating are harder to do when the world isn’t exactly one big “You can do it” poster.  In spite of that I am learning how to adapt and so are the people around me.  For instance, now when I see someone on the street we wave and try to smile big enough so that we can see it through each other’s mask.  Little things like this can help people feel less isolated from the world.

Feeling isolated from the world is a horrible feeling.  This feeling can be especially detrimental   for people who have struggled with their mental health.  If you have struggled with your mental health for a while you most likely have already experienced the feeling of isolation and not wanting to see anyone or leave the house. COVID-19 could bring people back into that state of mind.  Another thing that could bring people to a negative place is the pressure that social media has been putting on people that “if you don’t come out of this quarantine 15 pounds lighter and knowing a new language then you never had the motivation to start with”. That mindset can be very damaging to anyone whether you have struggled with mental illness or not. It is promoting that you should be positive all time during this pandemic which is a stressful mindset to have.  In addition, brands have been jumping on the idea that you need to “glow up” over quarantine, giving people new deals telling them we will help you “fix your body”.  Here are some examples I found:

If you want to work out and eat healthy, good for you! You should do what makes you feel good.  But you shouldn’t be pressuring yourself to eat healthily and work out or talking down to yourself about the way you are eating.  Because right now whether you realize it or not you are grieving.  You are grieving the loss of your old life, the not being able to go to school or work, not being able to go outside without actively thinking about how to keep you and whoever you’re staying with safe from the coronavirus.  You’re also grieving  because after quarantine has been lifted it’s not going to be like magic and everything will go back to normal, it’s going to take a little awhile.  Also it’s very possible that in the winter we are going to be put back under quarantine.  So yeah, it’s ok if right now you aren’t on top of your game because nobody expected to have “lived through the pandemic'' something they would experience in their life.

Along with the bad side of social media comes good; people have been finding ways through social media to help brighten up people’s day, for example, John Krasinki has put together a show called Some Good News, where he talks about all the good things that have been happening in the world each week.  Episodes include people recovering from COVID who were never thought to recover, how people are having fun in quarantine while staying safe, funny ways people are exercising indoors, and John Kranski reuniting with the office cast.  Ninety percent of the time in the media, the things that we are being shown are the bad things happening in the world and we can forget that there are also good things happening in the world.  Because we are being showered in negativity, having something like SGN (Some Good News) that shows us the good things happening, and gives us hope that things will get better. 

 

Keeping up hope is one of the toughest things to do right now.  Just from seeing the news headlines everyday or hearing from a family member or neighbor about something dreadful that happened, like someone you know losing a loved one to COVID.  You might be the person that has lost someone.  If you have lost someone to COVID-19 having to mourn the loss of a loved one while still being in a pandemic is probably one of the hardest times of your life.  To anyone who has lost someone during COVID-19 you are strong, you can get through this, and remember to be kind to yourself and surround yourself with people you love.  And to the people who haven’t lost someone to COVID-19 just having the looming threat that you could be carrying the virus and possibly get someone who is at a higher risk of getting sick is enough of a stress and should not be taken lightly.

During a pandemic, nothing is how it used to be.  So don’t expect things to be the same once this all over.  Something like this pandemic doesn’t just disappear once it’s over; it’s going to leave a mark on everybody’s lives one way or another.  If you are to take only one thing from this experience it’s to be grateful for everything in your life that you used to take for granted.  Because, as we've learned, something as simple as giving someone a hug could be taken away from you and your world could be changed.

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