By: Alina Gao
The dilemma is these trying times: feeling like you should be doing something and not. It’s feeling guilty for feeling relieved that everything has stopped. It’s feeling as if days are never going to end but also as if you could blink and miss a month of your life. It’s feeling like you should be doing more but also like this is finally your chance to slow down.
When the pandemic started, people didn’t know what to do. There were people dying and jobs being lost. The people in quarantine suddenly had heaps of time on their hands. Some took it as an opportunity to improve themselves, work towards their goals, and bake bread. That became the standard of what you were supposed to do while quarantining. I went on social media and there were all these people starting small handmade craft businesses, and all I did was feel tired. Tired, stressed, expectant. Waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know when or if school would begin again, so I did my best to learn by myself. I thought quarantine should be a time to study and excel, to extend myself as far as possible. But instead, every day I woke up at 10 a.m. just to go on YouTube for two hours and accomplish nothing. My expectations to suddenly transform into a productive human who consistently exceeds expectations were impossible.
Other people were taking this time for themselves. They were actually sleeping, relaxing, and using the extra time to do things they loved. I was spending my time worrying about the economy, falling behind on school, and thinking about how long this would last. I tried my best to use Khan academy and read books, but I just felt exhausted but relieved that I finally had time. But with that relief came guilt. How could I be grateful for all my extra time when people were dying? I wanted to help those people, but I felt like I couldn’t do anything.
I was supposed to be doing work, and I wasn’t. I was sleeping and watching videos and worrying. I felt stressed to do more and go farther. I was wondering why I wasn’t the best human in the world yet because I had all this time. But there wasn’t enough of it. Days passed like tests - slowly and agonizingly but still too short. And then it was summer and I had all these plans that I couldn’t follow. I couldn’t go downtown and pet all the dogs I saw. I couldn’t see my friends. I felt like I was wasting my life away. Then I felt bad because there were a lot of people who were experiencing a lot worse. People were calling the pandemic “the new normal” and I wanted to yell at them because I couldn’t accept this as normal.
Then school started. I shoved nine clubs down my throat and my extracurriculars started. I was busy and tired, but I finally felt like I was justifying my life. I felt like maybe I was worth whatever it was that I wanted.
Yet even that wasn’t sustainable, and I broke the Elmer’s glue holding me together. But everything is okay. And I ask you to do one thing if you feel like it’s not - just breathe.