The past few weeks have been stressful, but mostly just very strange. My school was canceled very suddenly, so mentally switching over to learning online and a lifestyle of sitting at home all day at my kitchen table in front of my computer has been a challenge. I’m the type of person who likes to stay on top of their schoolwork as much as possible, so as you can imagine, the first few days of quarantine were filled with anxiety. Were we going to have to take tests? When were my test grades from last week going in the grade book? To be honest, most of my questions I still don't have answers to. But this is something I've been getting used to. Waiting on replies from emailed questions to teachers can be very aggravating. I have to trust that everything will turn out alright. At the end of the day, everyone is in the same boat as me. We are all confused, worried, a tiny bit panicked, but we all have to learn how to battle these demons, because it's going to be like this for the next couple months – or maybe longer.
Staying at home all day was a lifestyle change I thought I was prepared for at first. Sleeping in? Yes! This is my type of school – or so I thought. When I first thought about the idea of essentially homeschooling myself, I was thinking, wow, maybe this whole social distancing thing is a blessing in disguise! But in reality, we all need a lot more social contact than we think. To cope with this lack of interaction, I've been dressing as I would to go to school and trying to stay on a schedule similar to a typical school day. Obviously, I haven't been entirely accurate, because the chance of sleeping in on a weekday is too good to pass up. But keeping this sort of schedule and attitude every day is something I've found to be an excellent coping mechanism. Sitting around all day in your pajamas will only further remind you of the bizarre situation that you are in. Personally, staying in my pajamas makes me feel a little useless, and one of the most important things that I’ve been taught in this experience (which was pushed by my parents) is to always stay busy! In my free time, I'll practice the piano, organize my room, get rid of old things, and cook!
I have a YouTube cooking channel called “Rani's Recipes” that I've been keeping up since I was 9 years old. But what better time is there than now to start again! I don't always film what I cook, some days I'll just quickly whip up a dinner for my parents and myself. It’s something to keep me busy and continue to cultivate my cooking skills. When I cook, my parents pretty much leave me alone unless I need help. I just put my music on and try and relax. Cooking is something I can control in such a turbulent time. Despite having made cooking videos, I realized that I had never really made anything entirely on my own. I always asked for help or had my mom do something that I thought I probably couldn't. But I discovered that when I am left to be independent, the whole process is more straightforward than I had thought. I also learn more on my own. The first thing I made during this strange time of quarantine was pesto pasta with chicken, which I made all by myself for my parents and me. Then, for a cooking video, I went with a more courageous approach: guacamole! I have to admit, there were many times when I considered calling upstairs for assistance, but I realized that in this crazy time where I have been gifted with lots of time alone, there is no better time to try and be independent and improve my skills.
I brought some of the food I cooked to my grandparents (from a distance, just in case), and the rest happens to be sitting in my refrigerator at this very moment. In these tough times, it's essential to spread positivity and find activities to do with your family. Now, of course, I am aware that I have just spent a paragraph talking about cooking, which I do alone, but you have to find a balance. My family and I watch movies pretty often and sometimes go on walks while staying six feet away from any passersby. We have definitely spent more time together as a family than ever before, even if it is forced. Don't get me wrong, sitting in a house with your parents 24/7 is not the most pleasant thing, but we're coping just as well as anybody else.
I have had many friends Snapchat or text me "I'm bored" or "I have nothing to do." And usually, I would respond with "same," but I realized this simply wasn't true. I'm keeping myself busy, and I was doing my best to divert my attention to anything but the coronavirus. Instead, I've told my friends to get a hobby, go through old things to bring to Goodwill, or exercise, another activity I have been spending a lot of time doing. I have found YouTube videos and the treadmill in our home office that has been untouched for who knows how long, to be very helpful and pretty fun too! This is pretty new to me. I'm usually not the type of person to take a run for fun, but being safer at home has presented me with a new hobby. Just like cooking, it's something where I can put my headphones in, shuffle my playlist, and become absorbed in it, blocking out the outside world.
These past few weeks of this new lifestyle are just the beginning, and I've only seen the tip of the iceberg of what it has to offer on the positive side. I have a feeling that things will get more complicated when school starts with new material, but I think it's something I can deal with, and it's all a learning experience. With a few more emails to teachers, FaceTime calls with friends, treadmill runs, family movie nights, and cooking videos, I think I'll get better at coping.