If you're like me, you probably already read thousands of articles on how to cope with uncertainty, a few of them especially targeted at people in quarantine. There are many studies on the internet about what teenagers need during this pandemic, but as an eighteen-year-old senior — who lost his prom and graduation and is unfortunately stuck in an unsupportive environment — I want to offer some of my own tips.
Stay Socially Connected
Remember, social distancing doesn’t mean you’re truly alone. Reach out to family, friends, or mentors and check in with them. It’s also the perfect time to reconnect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I get how nerve-racking it is to send out the first message, but trust me, the other person is just as desperate as you are for social interaction. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can watch a livestream on Instagram or Youtube and interact with others in the comment section. A lot of artists are performing on air to make up for cancelled events, so it’s like a free concert.
Find a Creative Outlet
Read. Draw. Paint. Write. Sing. Play an instrument. Whatever it might be, I encourage you to find a tool to express your emotions. Journaling is a great idea because it not only alleviates your fear and anxiety, but it also produces a primary source to look back to. In fifty years, the kids on the street won’t believe the stories you tell about this quarantine, just like how we shake our heads when our parents tell us about the old days. For example, I choose to implement my real-life experience in my fictional novel: in a magical world, there is also a global pandemic going on, and my protagonist is trying his best to find a cure for the unknown virus.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Be Productive
Ignore those people who tell you that you have to pick up a new habit, improve your grades, or work out at home during quarantine. We are living through a world pandemic. You have the right to be tired. Angry. Upset. This is not a productivity competition. Do whatever brings you joy. Read the book that you’ve always meant to read because you want to, not because you feel obligated to do it. I give you the permission to rest.
Spend Time With Your Family
Take this opportunity to spend time with your family if you have a good relationship with them. If you live away from home, call your mom and tell her you love her. If you live at home, spend time binging TV shows or playing board games or baking together. It is a time to break generational differences and remind each other how much you care. If you are a senior like me, this might be the last few months until you head to college. Cuddle your pets. And give them lots of pets and treats. Whether your pets act overjoyed or slightly annoyed at your constant presence in their house, I bet they are secretly happy about it.
For Teens in Unsupportive Environments
This pandemic is especially arduous for kids in abusive households, for queer and trans kids who have lost safe spaces to be themselves, for kids with parents who don’t understand their passions or disapprove of how they spend their time. If you are one of them, I see you, and I care about you. It’s hard to live in a house with people who don’t affirm you or see you as who you are. As an international student who lived with three different host families throughout the high school years, I understand that every family dynamic is different. Take a deep breath. Be patient with yourself. This pandemic won’t last forever, no matter how much it feels like it will.
And remember, today, you survived another day of this madness. For that, I’m proud of you.
To learn more about how to keep yourself sane during quarantine, check out the first episode of the IR Podcast: "COVID-19 and Mental Wellness".
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