A Quarantine Reflection: Advice from the Editors on How to Approach the Upcoming Winter Break

9 min read

Bailey McKeon ’22

Features Editor

Katie Cerulle ’22

Features Editor

Now that break is quickly approaching, the impending fear of isolation and the possibility of another spike in COVID-19 cases leaves us wondering what our break is going to look like. Through some self-reflection and soul searching, we’ve realized what sorts of things we can do the make the most of our four months at home. Here are our personal vignettes that we developed through this reflection.

KATIE: Quarantine for me was a special kind of torture. Being ripped from Trinity and thrown into the new COVID-19 world of death, isolation, and a general feeling of the future being completely unknown queued anxiety and depression that I had never had before. After classes ended, I was left to my own devices for a summer of canceled internships and a limited amount of jobs that were actually COVID-19 safe.  

Something that I have always been passionate about is music. I picked up the piano and played for many years growing up, but gave it up as I pursued other interests in high school. Despite not physically playing an instrument for a few years, my life is narrated through the songs that I listen to. 

One random afternoon in April, I mosied up to the attic to put my old suitcase away and stumbled upon the best thing quarantine offered me: my sister’s old 3/4th sized guitar. I dusted it off, brought it downstairs, and pulled up YouTube to start figuring out if this 6-year-old guitar was even worthy of my time. As it turns out, after some heavy tuning and a string replacement, it was in pretty good shape. I returned to YouTube and found some great teachers that taught me the basics, and I continued to practice on my own. 

Eight months later, I still have the same little guitar in my bedroom here at school, and hopefully have gotten a little better since April. Picking up that guitar was one thing that I felt like I had control over, and my progress was in my own hands. This and the fact that I basically live through the soundtrack I created made picking up a new instrument the perfect quarantine pass time.  

As I have continued to build my repertoire of songs, I have also developed skills of persistance and determination that I have never found within myself before.  Playing a completely new instrument is possible for anyone, it just takes patience, time and energy. I have come to understand that I am capable of more than I thought  and that any goal that I want to reach is possible though hard work. This helped me endure the long months of isolation through understanding that I am able to achieve success on my own.  

BAILEY: To be honest, I’m having a lot of mixed feelings about going home. It feels like we just got through our incredibly extended spring break and now we’re already being told to go back. And it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too different this time because coronavirus is still spreading through our nation. I was banking on coming back to campus early, after probably just a month of being home, for Trinity’s winter sports’ seasons, however, it seems unlikely that winter sports may even compete at all. Which leaves me to wonder what I am to do with myself for the upcoming long winter months.

I’m fortunate to have a safe place to go home to and I am excited to see my family and friends that I’ve missed dearly throughout the past semester. I’ll likely pick up my old job waitressing, although I know I’ll feel compelled to be doing something along the lines of an internship with my time. I want to be productive and yet it feels like the world is on pause. Surprisingly, though, I found some little things during our original quarantine that I can apply to this upcoming period of uncertainty to help me be productive.

I was able to take control of my life back by finding opportunities for growth within myself. We so heavily focus on everything we do outwardly while there is still great progress we can make inwardly. There are so many ways to get in touch with yourself: write in a journal, meditate, engage in mindfulness. These have helped me to grow as a person because they helped me learn a lot about myself and find inner peace. Before incorporating these strategies into my everyday routine, I based my happiness on what was going on around me. In fact, I based my entire life on what was going on around me. I was scared of being alone because I needed to be uplifted by the world around me. Now I find strength and peace in being alone because I’ve developed a greater love for myself and for life. Doing these practices have helped me to root my life within myself and now I know I’ll be okay wherever I end up because I have me.

With that being said, I do still look to the upcoming break with some dread. I am no master of these techniques because everything is a work in progress. But doing these has grounded me within my own body. They have given me a sense of agency that clears the lens through which I view the world around me. I hope to come back to campus from the break with a better sense of self that will enable me to better embark on my future.

 From our experiences, we created a list of seven things that we hope might help you to endure the long winter months ahead. Although  the next few months serve different challenges than those we’ve faced before, we can use some of the skills that we obtained the first time to cope with this extended break. Everyone’s situation presents different challenges, but we can learn a lot from each other from and our community. 

1. Pick up a hobby:

Picking up a hobby will give you purpose. It occupies your brain and ensures some stimulation despite a possible sedentary, at home lifestyle. Investing in something also will provide you with a sense of control and agency over your own life, especially during a time when a lot of things are beyond our personal power.   In addition, more lesurely activities such as  cooking or starting a new Netflix show can be just as beneficial to your time spent at home. These may seem unproductive but can add a new layer of enjoyment to your four month hiatus. 

2. Find a routine:

Following a routine is another method you can use to take control over your own life. Sticking to a routine naturally makes you feel good because it gives you a feeling of accomplishment over things that might appear mundane or simple. Even further, having little productive things weaved throughout your daily routine will guarantee some level of productivity for the day. And it gives you things to look forward to every day.  

3. Enjoy nature:

Being outside is a serotonin-booster. Changes of scenery can greatly improve mental stability and outlook. Spending some time outdoors can be revitalizing because you quite literally get in touch with your roots. Go for a hike or a walk, sit at a park, or even just open the window. Fresh air is awesome. If you are feeling anxious, stressed, or sad, take a break, move outside, and find peace.

4. Practice self-care: 

What’s going on right now is hard. Although it may seem like there aren’t many things to be invested in during the pandemic, invest in yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take time to process and reflect. You may feel pressured to be as productive as possible, but don’t overlook the productivity that comes from taking time to yourself. Try not to compare yourself to what others are doing; do what’s most important for you. It’s okay if what is most productive for you doesn’t end in tangible or visible success.

5. Form good habits:   

With all of the extra time that we have  at home, we can dedicate some of our time to  building a foundation for our future. Making sure that we do little things like making your bed in the morning, flossing and keeping a good posture will make a big impact on your future self. While these many seem like random, unncessary tasks, the combination of these things will foster a healthier lifestyle and make your time during this unusual quarantine somewhat more bearable.

 6. Be present: 

It’s really easy to think about the future with a growing anxiety because so much is so unknown. Approaching things day by day can help ground you in the present moment and ease anxious thoughts. One of the strangest things about college is that it feels like our lives are so spread out. We have our lives at Trinity and our lives at home, but they don’t always feel like the same thing. Wishing or hoping to be in another position won’t get you anywhere and will only take away from the opportunities in front of you at the present moment. The truth is, your life is wherever YOU are. Be present in it.

7. Express gratitude: 

Celebrate the little things in your life that are going well. It’s very easy for one dark cloud above your head to multiple into thousands. Don’t forget to appreciate the good things. This isn’t intended to downplay or disregard the struggles you are facing; it just helps reset your perspective. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we tend to take things for granted far too easily. Expressing gratitude outwardly attracts good things to come back your way. 

We  sincerely hope these suggestions help you as we all depart for an extended winter break, and another version of quarantine. The Tripod  Features Editors cannot wait to see everyone back on campus in March of 2021!

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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