What is happening now has never happened before. Ever. There have been epidemics, certainly, but never a pandemic that has shut down the global economy with this level of immediacy and impact. Beyond the economy, the coronavirus has dramatically reshaped social interactions, cultural norms, family life, work, school, public space, online communication, and our relationship with everything from food and freedom to siblings and elders. We are witnessing–and we are living through–something so big that it seems to have touched nearly everything.
Since March, BCL students have been making sense of the virus and its impact. The next few blog posts are devoted to their writing. Each piece offers a unique window into how they are making sense of this unprecedented moment. The first two installments are written by Ella and Ana.
As an introvert, I always thought that I don’t really need to be around people every day and that I would be fine working from home. But being in isolation has taught me that even when I didn’t think I was, I was thriving in a public school system. When all of my structures were lifted at once, I felt at first a brief moment of freedom. However, I quickly realized that I was adrift in the land of working-from-home. One of the best things that I’ve done over quarantine is to create a schedule for myself. I try to stick to this every day, and repeating my morning ritual sets me up for a day of productivity and success. It got me thinking about how other members of my family have been doing while left to their own devices at home.
It seems as though my entire family has gone through some shift in the way they view productivity. With the media enforcing the idea that we need to be taking advantage of every second of being at home, it’s easy to get down on ourselves if we don’t check every item off of that to-do list. The reality of this situation is that it is not healthy to set unrealistic expectations of your productivity. With the instant removal of any type of structure comes the freedom to rethink the way we go about our day-to-day lives. This can take many shapes: whether that’s discovering a new facet of your personality, going for walks in the mornings, or simply deciding to check the news less often.
Through speaking with my family, I have been able to glean important lessons about myself, about family, and about human nature. I have learned that it is natural and normal to feel stuck during such a scary and uncertain time. I have learned that our productivity is not an effective measure of our self-worth. We are living through a never-before seen moment in history, and it is okay to go easy on yourself. Leaning into the seemingly simple ideas of routine and ritual with my family has helped foster a newfound sense of community and solidarity in my house. I have learned more about each of their personalities and what makes them tick. Although I have lived with these people for my entire life, I have learned that there is always something more than meets the eye. I feel like I know my family a little bit better now, even if I thought there was nothing more to learn. People are complex and unpredictable, and that is what makes them beautiful.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Our Relationships
This form of isolation is very hard on the connections we have because we are confined to our houses and not supposed to see people outside of the people we live with. Even though we are very fortunate to have the technology that we have where we can virtually connect with people at any time, it is very different from seeing people every day. With this in mind, I wanted to observe and research the changes in the relationships that we have throughout this quarantine.
Over the course of this new experience, relationships will either grow from this or get broken down. The relationships that you have with your family will most likely grow from this pandemic because you are confined to only seeing them and being around them at all hours of the day. Getting the opportunity to spend quality time with them and doing more activities than what you would normally be doing with them. I believe personally my relationships with my friends are slowly starting to diminish. Seeing them every day, even at school, was a huge part of our relationship with each other, and now without that contact, it is hard for us to have that same connection. Although we reach out via social media and video calls, we do not have conversations like we would in person and it does not feel the same.
I wanted to look deeper, past my personal thoughts on this, so I looked at an article that talked about the coronavirus and how it can affect our relationships. This article talked about how we as humans, by nature, need to have social interactions and touch. Humans are a species that tends to require other people in our lives to thrive and have a sense of connection. With this virus, our social interactions are very limited, as we are rarely going outside and are barely seeing other people. We are only allowed to go out for essentials and should not go out to see our friends or people outside of who we live with. As a result of this, people’s relationships can suffer both physically and emotionally. A relationship expert, Valentina Tudose says, “human contact and physical touch are fundamental needs and avoiding them for an extended period of time can have a big impact on our happiness and well-being.” We should all make sure we are taking value in the people we live with and our interactions with them. This quote from her is also mentioning the issues that can occur with your own self. This isolation is not only affecting the connections with other people but it can also cause your relationship with yourself to worsen and become toxic to your mental and physical health.
In this hard time, it can be extremely easy to find yourself getting lost, not just in a relationship with someone else, but with yourself. It is so important to have a good relationship with yourself and your body, making sure you are properly caring for every aspect. Being alone and feeling this sense of total isolation can really affect your mental health and cause people to lose sight of the important things during this quarantine. I think it is so important to take time to care for your body and mental health, take time for yourself, and be able to become a stronger and better version of yourself. Studies have shown that the depression rates have soared after an infection or disease outbreak has occurred. Now, because we not only have fear of catching this virus, we are also strongly suggested to cut off social interactions with people, it is extremely easy to feel completely isolated and let your personal health and growth suffer. We all need to take time to care for our minds, that can be through many media – journaling, meditation, talking to people, anything you can think of. It is so important to make sure you are aware of your body and mind before you fall into a bad cycle.