© twjst.photo Theodor Stoll
Five weeks ago, COVID-19 came into my life. The school I work at started discussing options to prevent spreading the virus, and I started communicating a potential closure to my students. At the end of that week, the decision was made: classes will resume online after a week of Spring Break.
It has been a crazy ride since then. My mental state ranged from a high level of anxiety with racing heart to a deep chasm of depression with no motivation to lift any part of my body. Both of my parents in New Jersey suffered from and survived the virus as well as my best friend in Los Angeles. My students have been expressing various kinds of stress from dealing with overwork, lack of work, fear of infection, children at home, the foreign format of online learning, and confinement at home.
I, as an extrovert, have been frustrated with the lack of socialization. I know that there is Zoom. There are also Instagram Live, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch, and all sorts of platforms people are utilizing to host live events. Believe me. I’ve been on them, sometimes multiple times a day. I have a dedicated Google Chrome window with 13 open tabs that show me the schedules of various virtual activities.
I’ve hosted and attended work-related meetings. I have participated in dance, yoga, and exercise classes. I have listened to live music in virtual concerts. I have attended a meeting for worship hosted by a local Quaker group. I also have been communicating frequently with my family and close friends via text, several chat apps, calls, and video conferences. I am doing my best to get the human interaction that my heart desires. They all help. I’m feeling ever so grateful for the modern technology that allows me to stay connected. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the only person that I have sat down to eat with, whose breath I have felt during a conversation, and whose body I have touched or embraced is my partner. It has been that way over the last 30 days, and it will probably stay that way the next 30 days, at minimum.
Last night, when my partner asked, “Are you bored of me?”, my honest answer was “yes,” which he graciously understood. And my confession continued: I am tired of spending time with him in our apartment; I am tired of exercising in my living room; I am tired of sitting in front of my computer; I am tired of cooking and eating at home; I am tired of not seeing my friends; I am tired of doing solo jazz (instead of partnered swing dance that I used to do regularly); I am tired of reading comic books and coloring. I am doing all the activities that are dispensable to me, yet after four weeks, I am sick of doing them over and over and over again. I am fully occupied, and at the same time, I feel bored. I crave the natural stimulation from interacting with organic beings, humans or animals. (Sadly, I do not have any companion animal due to the restriction by our apartment management.) I’m so done with this self-isolation.
A disclaimer to assuage my guilt and preemptively field a quite reasonable criticism: This reflective essay reveals a lot about my privileges. Some people struggle with similar issues even outside of a pandemic. Other people struggle more than I do because they do not have the safety, health, and provisions that I have. I make efforts to listen to them and help them in the ways I can. Meanwhile, I try to validate my own struggles and forgive myself for being a human.