One Year in Quarantine: A Reflection

Sabrina Stroman

The world ended 2019 with a smile and hope for a better year, just like we have every other year. Even with the good wishes, looming darkness was slowly creeping its way into our side of the world. By late January we were all aware of the events happening on the other side of the world and while some took things lightly, others were more on edge. I was somewhere in between, fantasizing if a zombie apocalypse of sorts was possible from these occurrences and being wary and about people and their hygiene as well being wary of the news. The day lockdown started was just another one of those days. Sunny skies and work due I didn’t completely grasp the possibility that we might not go back to school for a while until my friends hugged me for the last time at lunch. I asked why they hugged me so tightly to which they replied “because we won’t see each other for a while.” Being the somewhat realistic optimist that I am I replied saying that everything will be fine and it won’t be that long. But in the back of my mind, the possibility that that might not happen was jabbing at me. No formal announcements from my teachers were made until my last-period class. I looked around the room at the bored and tired faces of my classmates with a few listening intently. Looked over at the clock just over my head counting down the minutes until all our lives came to a screeching halt. And yet outside there were still sunny skies and fresh cool march air and birds happily chirping as they always had. These two environments were opposites and yet, I found myself largely at peace in between them. The last period bell rang and I packed my things from my locker as announcements to remove all items from lockers came over the intercom. I said goodbye to my friends, looked back at the school, and silently said goodbye while walking home. When I got home I found my mother surrounded by bags of food from the massive shopping haul she went on while I was in school. Once I saw that I knew things would not blow over so easily. And we were all in for one hell of a ride.


I’m not one to panic or feel any heavy emotions over many situations. the prospect of staying in quarantine for more than 2 weeks didn’t come to me until those 2 weeks went by and it was almost time for spring break. At first, I felt strange and awkward waking up early but having nowhere to go. I could tell that my teachers were also experiencing roughly the same thing although I never got to talk to many of my freshman teachers after the 13th, even virtually. Their lesson plans were rushed as to be expected of such a sudden and not well thought out the shift. I often wonder if things would have gone more smoothly if the western hemisphere didn’t think they were immune to something going around halfway across the globe and they actually planned things out instead of waiting for things to get out of hand. Would we all be having a normal high school experience in the building now? At times though just like anyone else facing difficult situations I felt disconnected and a bit hopeless. I fell into a few slumps but because there was always something due and countless things to look forward to in life I kept going. My life motto at this point can basically be summed up as “it gets worse.” and although I hate to think that, it keeps me humble but also terrified me because things indeed did keep getting worse as quarantine dragged on. We’ve been stuck here for so long that it feels like we’re in a time loop and I cannot wait until the day we can leave it. 


Society as a whole craves change, and yet at the same time, we also fear what we want. It was definitely an experience seeing how the headline of “new virus identified in etc” evolved into “millions dead from said virus.” I think Covid-19 did a decent job in making the world reevaluate some of their corrupt values, while at the same time exposing long-hidden ones. In terms of my education, however, not much has changed. I’m still keeping my grades as high as I physically am while trying to enjoy whatever sliver of social interaction I can get with my classmates and friends. I silently adjusted to this new norm and while I often don’t like to think about how I feel about such events it’s sometimes impossible to avoid. These changes were terrible for everyone yet necessary to keep as many people safe as possible. and although there are so many who disregard the good intentions that most people have we have no choice but to just sit around and wait for change to come our way. I have found some of my classmates becoming aware of issues that they might not have even put much thought into. I truly commend them for wanting to do good in this world but I hope that this just like many other issues in the past does not become one of “clout” but rather a measure of basic human decency. Even though there were so many bad things that happened because of quarantine I have learned so much more about myself than I did when in school. Many of us went on small journeys to find ourselves and see what we are truly like. I have witnessed a few of my classmates go on similar journeys and it makes me happy knowing they are experimenting and seeing what they enjoy in life. 


Life has the capability of throwing all sorts of challenges at you at the most unexpected and unwanted of times. This pandemic is one of those challenges and for so many of us, it’s the first big challenge of our lifetimes. I often ponder how things could’ve ended up like this and get nowhere with these thoughts. In truth situations like this cannot be dissected, but what can be dissected is the actions that people take to handle such situations. There is no sense or reason to things such as a pandemic they happen because they happen and until there is a concrete cause to all of this that is the mindset I will have. I still feel like I’m stuck in March 2020 still trying to take in the prospect of not going to school for 2 weeks. Time has flown by and yet it feels like nothing changed in the world outside. Now that my sophomore year is almost over I feel as though I deserve a redo because of all the opportunities I missed and I’m sure many other students feel the same. As of right now, school has just become a waiting game until we are all able to go back safely and happily. Usually, I try to keep myself away from making sense of any situation because I always keep the mindset that things happen and that’s just what the world does. So many things in life have no reason or purpose for occurring and for the things that do many simply have no plausible explanation. it’s better for me to simply just accept things the way they are instead of dissecting every possible detail for answers that cannot produce solutions to our problems. Quarantine works the same way and to think of it any other way would not work out well for me.


I feel as though everyone has had different experiences in quarantine some worse than others. I would think that most of us would feel the same loneliness from not being able to see our friends. or maybe we all feel the same uncertainty about the future of ourselves and our loved ones. As for me, quarantine has not been the best experience. I had an idea of what I was in for as soon as I came home on the first day, and my expectations for how miserable it would be were completely shattered within the first month. I missed my friends, teachers, and just everyday things that I used to take so much simple pleasure in. I felt helpless, alone, and constantly stressed but I think the schoolwork that I was getting was able to give me a break from all of that and just focus on my studies. I know a lot of people who would break from such circumstances but as I am used to the pressure I was doing okay. strangely enough, schoolwork provided an escape from the hectic life that I normally live. Of course, as time went on my mindset over quarantine got better and I became used to how repetitive days became. I thought about how many things I used to complain about when in school but compared to this none of that could hold up. I feel like I became more humble in general and grateful for the small things that I still have left to enjoy in life at the moment. 


I’m almost certain that something like this would only happen once in my lifetime, however, the future still holds so many questions so nothing is certain. I feel like experiencing a modern pandemic of this scale once is enough for me. There are some things that I wished I did differently over quarantine though. I wish I had reached out to others and helped out more when I needed to. There is already so little that I can do to help the people around me so just doing a little more for them probably would have made a big difference to me. Now that I’m getting older and reaching adulthood faster I truly want to do as much as I can for those who need it most. I feel this sort of responsibility towards those who do need help and even if we are in the same boat I still want to do something if anything to help out. If something like this were to happen again though I would like to do anything in my power to help those who need it most. I think it’s the least I can do to give back to a world that has given and taken so much from me and many others around me.