We are currently living through a historic event in world history that future generations will remember. The COVID-19 disease is the first major pandemic of the 21st century, and due to a combination of our reluctance to address a looming threat and our overconfidence in modern medicine, the coronavirus has swept through nearly every nation across the globe. With the number of confirmed cases exponentially rising by the hour, the international community has addressed the contagious spread of the coronavirus through a multitude of personal methods. From washing your hands with soap for two minutes to self-isolating yourself within your home, there are a variety of techniques that the ordinary person can take to decrease the likelihood that they will get or transfer the virus. The potential for a mandatory government quarantine to be enacted is very likely, and since this is a process that no one has prior experience in, it will be odd for many to stay within the confines of their homes for upwards to a month. While this may be awkward, it is necessary to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus and to keep yourself healthy.
Despite all that I have previously said, I want to make it crystal clear that just because you cannot leave your house anymore, it does not mean that you cannot be productive. Initially, I viewed a self-quarantine as an absolute loss, believing that after a couple of days I would become so bored out of my mind that staring at a wall would be interesting. However, it is quite the contrary. Since restricting myself to the area within my neighborhood, which is not that much to begin with, I have seen myself become more active. I am by no means a stranger to exercising, as I practice volleyball after school daily and used to be on my school’s swim team. But in the absence of regular physical exertion, I had to turn to a new outlet to make sure I stayed fit. Interestingly, I started a vigorous workout regiment that, had it not been for a quarantine, I could not bring myself to accomplish. Yet, after a week and a half of constant exercise, I actually enjoyed witnessing the body improvement and boosts of energy that working out would give me. For the first time in probably three years, I went swimming in my pool, which is quite ironic as I am on my high school swim team. Although skateboarding down the same street dozens of times may sound mundane, simply being outside and breathing the fresh air was very rewarding.
I have spent more time sitting in my backyard relaxing this last week than I have in years, and now, I’d much rather spend time sitting outside than staying cooped up in my room. I believe that exercising and staying fit is essential to surviving social distancing because, without the ability to go to a gym or a daily jog, those calories that you are consuming will begin to pile up. Additionally, not only does exercising during a quarantine allow you to focus on improving your health, but it can help you towards the desired body image that maybe could not have been achievable with a busy schedule. All in all, I think that in terms of my health, this quarantine has been one of the greatest helpers yet.
Now that suddenly everyone has more free time, I think that people should use it to its maximum potential. While we now have time to finally get caught up to the latest episode of a new TV show or play video games for hours on end, which is every teenager’s dream, we should not spend our entire day wasting it glued to a digital screen. Setting a goal for yourself that would otherwise be unachievable creates a challenge that keeps you occupied, whether it be learning a new language or teaching yourself how to play an instrument. Rather than locking yourself up in your room binge watching an entire season of The Office, you could be trying to learn a new trick to impress your friends or create an elaborate artwork. Personally, I have spent hours playing my guitar, learning new, difficult songs and pretending that I am about to perform in front of a stage crowd. I’ve attempted to teach my rabbit some tricks, to no avail at that, and have tried to learn how to skateboard with my opposite leg, both of which are tasks that have become available to me because I am not worrying about attending school. However, I am not perfect, and I will say that I have played my fair share of PS4 games with my friends and watched countless movies. With so much free time on our hands, people should make the most out of it, because as the old time saying goes: time is the most valuable commodity.
The biggest change that has resulted from the coronavirus outbreak, at least for teenagers, has been the postponing of school, which garnered mixed receptions. To most, the concept of a virtual classroom is preferred over in-person classes, and I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy “attending” classes from the leisure of my bed. Not waking up at 6 am everyday is a blessing to many and not having to deal with the intense workload that school creates is certainly relieving, but there are substantial consequences that come with such benefits. However, not having a structured schedule throughout the day leads to procrastination and a lack of productivity, which only harms your grades. I can not say for other schools, but my online classes are still operating relatively similar to normal ones, with tests and assignments being issued at just the same rate with maybe a slight drop in difficulty. I still have a constant stream of school work I have to do, but it is just on a more flexible basis. My biggest worry as far as online school goes is that the quality of learning will drastically decrease, which presents the biggest problem as far as AP exams go. I am less concerned with my grades, which could potentially be void for this semester, and am more worried about the AP exams that I will most likely be unprepared for since my lectures will be in PDFs or videos. I believe that maintaining a somewhat linear schedule and school-focused mentality is probably the best way to ensure that you are not falling behind in both school or general well being.
And to close off this extensive guide to how I am attempting to practice social distancing, I will finish with the topic that so many teens are concerned about: their social life. I would not say that I am a person that everyone in my school can recognize, but I think that I would consider myself one of the more active people among my peers. I hangout with my friends at school, attend parties on the weekends, and go to a variety of meetup spots, so this sudden cut off from the outside world that my social distancing has caused definitely has killed my social life for the time being. I have not spoken in person to anyone other than my family members and have communicated purely through social media, but I do not feel this desire to go out. I understand the magnitude of the coronavirus situation and believe that social distancing is necessary to prevent the further spread of it, so if my spring break fun has to vanish to ensure mine and my families health, so be it. I regularly talk to my friends over Snapchat and still get on group FaceTimes, which is honestly enough for me to satiate my social needs. The idea of being unable to see your friends is definitely tough, but I think during this population threatening outbreak, one could give up a little bit of hangout time at almost no cost.
Social distancing is not going to be easy, and even if you were to do everything in your power to keep yourself occupied, there is no escape from this self-isolation. I think that it is important to look at what you have compared to others, who, as a product of their financial status or underlying health condition, may not view this social distancing in the same light as you do. While I may be more concerned about what movie I should watch next, there are millions of people who are worried about having the next meal, and it is this fact that has made me appreciate the free time that I have because not everyone has it. Instead of losing sleep over such trivial matters, you should focus on bettering yourself, which will benefit you much greater in the long term.
Social distancing does not mean that the world is coming to an end as we know it, so make the most out of the time you are given and just make do with what you have.