The danger of skipping past quarantine

Let's not talk about it for now

Lucia Rivera

Let's not talk about it for now

During quarantine, a line I read in a memoir stuck with me: “What kind of memories will we want to have in 20 years of how we faced these difficulties now?” Ironically, I felt it was exactly applicable to the world’s current situation.

I know that there is no time in which a pandemic is ideal for society, and I definitely recognize that humans were not designed to endure separation to this level. But that doesn’t mean we should make ourselves numb to this experience. We aren’t meant to only live to reach some future date, letting our despair overwhelm us, day after day. 

I want to have real memories of how I reacted to this difficult period of my life. I have struggled with quarantine and distance learning, but I have been so lucky to have had a healthy family and a home throughout the last five months. 

For others in situations like mine, I believe there is value in fully living in the present. Then, in the post-pandemic future, which will come one day, we will be able to remember that despite the anxiety, fear and sadness, we fought to let the best of human nature show. That we avoided blocking out these months of lifetime from our emotional memories. 

I felt afraid during quarantine when I found myself slipping into a numb mindset, watching days go by while I remained enclosed within the walls of my house. Luckily, my memories saved me — specifically my memories of ninth grade.  

When I reflect back on that year of my life, what I recall the most is a heavy feeling of unhappiness — which is, in fact, exactly representative of how I felt during that time. Yes, I had moments of joy and celebration throughout the year, but on a daily basis, I was mourning the loss of friendships and familiarity. After moving to a new, large high school from a K-8 I had attended with friends since kindergarten, I was heartbroken and genuinely unhappy with my day to day experiences at school. There was nothing I could do to change reality, but I struggled with acceptance. 

My solution at the time? To block out my pain and propel myself years in the future, to college life. Every time I was dropped off at the gates of my school I told myself that this period was a necessary evil in the span of my life. I threw myself into my pile of school work every day while reminding myself that soon enough, this agonizing experience of high school would come to an end. I convinced myself that my unhappiness would end quicker if I didn’t live in the present, as cliche as it sounds. 

While remembering this instinctual response of my 13 year-old self when I found myself facing feelings like never before, I caught my 2020 self before I could repeat my mistake. My feelings of heartache and melancholy didn’t dissipate when I blurred out their presence in my life back then. And my feelings of anxiety and isolation during quarantine would only overwhelm me if I did the same now. 

If I “fast-forward” to a happier future I envision for myself and the rest of humanity, I may be soothing my stress, but in a couple year’s time, I will only remember that stress I tried to erase. 

Because of this, I have decided to stare into the light of this pandemic and avoid the danger of skipping past the present. I want to remember not only the challenges of this time, but the laughs with my siblings and the hugs with my parents. I want to look back and remember that I responded to my individual situation with gratefulness and sincerity. It’s my actions and mindset now that will matter.

From where I am now, I can easily recognize that as my misery faded in ninth grade, I grew out of my mind-numbing mindset. By the first day of sophomore year I arrived on campus smiling, thinking, things are so much easier the second time around. To avoid reaching a similar epiphany when a vaccine to COVID-19 is found, and sidewalks regain their bustle, we should accept our present circumstances, and use our human ingenuity to react in the way we will want to remember in the future.