Quarantine gave me the chance for self-discovery

Anushka Patil, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Guess who lost her bet. Me. Bet you didn’t expect that. 

When “quarantine” started, all I could do was laugh. You could say laughing was my coping mechanism. Until March 12, I never really understood the meaning of up-and-down emotions. Sure, I knew that emotions could change drastically in a matter of seconds, but I could never grasp the idea that a person can experience polar opposite emotions at the same moment. At least, I never experienced it until that day. 

Full-happiness comes from feeling comfort even when you are around no one else. (Snapwire (Pexels))

That day, I sat happily on my porch. It was the worst type of cold. It was the type of cold that hid behind a sunny day and caught its victims off-guard. I knew I would not have to take my Algebra test for another two weeks, and any day with no Algebra test is a good day. 

From the porch, I saw my parents, and I lost it. They were carrying six, maybe seven, reusable bags of groceries. Banana ice cream, my personal favorite, cookies, chips, you name it; we had it. 

I hadn’t seen that many groceries in my house since my mom went to India for two weeks. Not understanding the severity of COVID-19, I laughed until there was no tomorrow. The precautions my parents were taking seemed completely frivolous. 

Exhausting myself laughing, I suddenly felt butterflies in my stomach. Fear. What if this is actually serious?  

That night on my textbook-less bed, my dad made a bet with me. He told me he’d pay me ten dollars if I wasn’t able to discover something about myself in quarantine. Since I considered “quarantine” an excuse to watch television all day, I was confident the ten dollars were mine. I shook his hand, not thinking about how far that hand has come over fifty years. 

Seven weeks, four breakdowns, six laughing-fits, and three crash-diets later, I stood in front of my mirror. Over seven weeks, I had probably looked in the mirror once a day. I had tiny baby hairs sticking out in a million directions, I was dressed in sweatpants, my eyelashes weren’t begging for freedom from under a layer of mascara, and, yet, I looked more myself than I had in a long time.

Over the past few weeks, I have been spending the majority of my time with my family. My sister and I bake, paint, and go on walks together. Along with giving more time to my family, I have significantly reduced the amount of time I spend on my phone. It has been refreshing, to say the least.

By engaging in activities that are value-adding, my world revolves around me, and not in the vain, villainous type of way. Doing the dishes, exploring the trails around my home, and being the person I often watch on social media, I realized that, when I grow up, I look back at the memories in which I am actively participating in reality, rather than curled up in a fetal position while scrolling through the bottomless pit of Instagram.

The “real” me enjoys the idea of art and serenity, something bogged down by the social expectations brought upon girls and boys my age. Today, society pressures teenagers to fit the flirtatious and mature image. Uniqueness is destroyed and conformity prevails.

As a high school student, it’s easy to get caught up in things of surface-level importance. The stress of classes and feeling the need to fit an image definitely has held me back in the past. Not to overdo it with the sap, but self-isolation made me realize society doesn’t choose who I am; I do. I have the ability to define myself with the things most important to me.

I haven’t worked on anyone else’s schedule except my own, and it felt great. 

The expectations that high school students are held to are suffocating. Often, we forget what it is that we want. The quicker we learn to do things for ourselves, the happier we will be.

I’m not laughing anymore at this situation. I’m grateful. Standing in that mirror, ten dollars poorer, reminded me I am my priority. Seven weeks later, I’ve learned two things: never make a bet with your older, much wiser father and that you define your own happiness.