It’s no secret that 2020 has been a very trying year for everyone. From protests over human rights to the frightening number of deaths from the coronavirus to fear about the upcoming presidential election, the people of our country, on personal and political levels, have much to grapple with.
Social media has surrounded me in a constant, easily accessible stream of existential dread about our world. Being stuck at home during the second semester of my first year of college was also very disorienting. It was very difficult to focus on getting good grades or writing papers when it felt like our modern world was falling apart. On top of that, coming home was very difficult because of personal issues with my family. Being trapped in such a toxic environment was suffocating me. But this suffocating feeling also helped me and my family greatly during the past five months — wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long already.
I’ve always believed that there are blessings in what appears to be a curse. I wanted to be responsible and not catch the virus or get my family sick, so I didn’t leave the house much. Because of that, I was home with my family more than I ever was in high school. It was hard at first, but then I realized that this quarantine helped improve the quality of life for all of my family members in one way or another. Eventually, I reluctantly admitted that I actually enjoyed being there.
The indoor solitude inspired me and my family to self-reflect, to come to terms with hard truths and to revive our connection to one another in a way I never thought I’d see, probably ever. I bonded with my mom and spent more time with my dad than I had in the past seven years, and my little brother was so happy to see me so often, as I was so busy in high school that I barely spent time with him.
By reconnecting with my family, I reconnected with myself and my culture and reflected on the things that need to have central importance in my life. I realized I should take fewer units in college (luckily I can afford to and still graduate on time) and focus on doing activities outside of just schoolwork. By doing this, I’m allowing myself to fill my free time with activities that will enrich my life in other sectors. My focus has always primarily been academic, at the cost of my mental health, free time and social endeavors, and to me, that’s unhealthy.
Ultimately, being “stuck” at home was such a blessing for me and my family, and I recognize that it’s a privilege to say that. Before the quarantine, I was worried about the future of my family and our relationships, but now I feel so hopeful, so optimistic and so grateful that I have my family in my life.
The hustle and bustle of life can be so restrictive. Any small moment that exists for you to breathe, you should spend on self-reflection, reconnecting with someone you once knew or asking yourself if your actions are purposeful or if you’re just stuck on a treadmill.
Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].