As we hit the one-year mark since the beginning of lockdown, students look back at how they spent their time in quarantine. For some, this was a time for personal growth and reflection, but it was also a time period that took a toll on them mentally and physically. Not everyone’s experience was the same and each individual was faced with different challenges outside the realm of their past experiences.
When asked about any regrets they had post-lockdown experience, many students considered what they could have done differently. Sophomore Melissa Holland shares, “If I could redo quarantine, I would probably have tried to encourage myself to have a healthy daily routine. Looking back on it, I wasn’t very productive and the days seemed to blend together so that it felt like I wasn’t making any real progress. I think quarantine would have been much better if I had a set schedule that I maintained.”
The sudden rush to isolate caused many peoples’ daily schedules to flip and resulted in a routine, or lack thereof, that was not suitable for many. Senior Beatrice Berne adds, “If I could redo my quarantine I would focus more on what I was doing and less on waiting for it to be over. I spent so much time anticipating going back to doing things that I forgot to set up good social, mental, and physical health structures. I wish I started adapting to my situation earlier, instead of wishing it was different.”
One common theme amongst many students is the drastic impact the first quarantine took on their mental health. Sophomore Kenya Reeves says, “I spent more time alone doing nothing than I ever had before and I got medication for my depression and anxiety. Also, I got a new therapist and have been growing as a person.”
Prior to the pandemic, many people were overwhelmed by their fast-paced lives, and this was their opportunity to realize changes they wanted to make within themselves. Freshman Abby Minc adds, “The past year has been pretty difficult for me and I didn’t want to complain when everyone else was going through just as much, if not more. I’m just now getting to a point where I feel like I can talk to my parents about how I’m feeling and [have] them actually listen. As for if everything has helped me grow or not, quarantine definitely has.” The process of addressing mental health begins with oneself and for some, this step began in quarantine. Whether it was acknowledging that you needed help or taking the steps to get help, each stride should be celebrated, the little victories are still victories.
Many students also shared their experiences of growth within themselves. “We were all going through a lot and I think I did the best I could at the time,” remembers Sophomore Audrey Kelly. “I definitely think quarantine helped me grow. It gave me an opportunity to learn more about myself and take a step back from a lot of things.”
Berne notes, “Although I, like everyone, had some not-great times during quarantine, those moments of frustration, pain, and, yes, loneliness helped me grow. You have to take care of yourself. Even though I’ve heard it, and said it, so many times, I didn’t realize that the extenuating circumstances of quarantining required me to do more in-depth, challenging, and reflective forms of self-care.” Although many students would have preferred to start their self-growth journey under different circumstances, at least the steps were taken that could positively impact the rest of their lives.