If I really wanted to, I bet I could look back on my journal when I was 20 and find an entry wishing everyone would just stay home. I just never imagined it would take a pandemic, and I never imagined it would last months.
I struggled with FOMO (the fear of missing out) early in my 20s and nearly hated Saturdays for this reason. At the time, I was a full-time college student with two part-time jobs. My Saturdays were often spent writing essays, studying, and putting together a fashion magazine.
But that’s not what most people my age spent their Saturdays doing. Everyone else I knew slept in all morning and then had fun all night. I, on the other hand, spent my weekends prepping for the week ahead.
The thing is: I liked being home. But nobody else did.
If you know me personally at all, you know that I’m a homebody and an introvert. I typically prefer a night in over a night out, small gatherings over large crowds, and I’m not the biggest fan of socializing with people I hardly know. I’m guilty of saying I’m busy (I usually am) or sick (I’m usually not) just so I can stay home and not go out to socialize with everyone else.
All of my favorite hobbies—reading books, writing, and playing video games—are solo tasks I’ve always liked to do in the comfort of my bedroom or in an empty library.
Unfortunately, nobody I knew thought it was “cool” to enjoy being home—especially at 20. I felt outlandish for savoring the indoors and secretly wished Saturdays weren’t The Day You Go Out And Do Something Fun. For years, Saturdays gave me so much pressure to “go out” that when I didn’t, I felt like I wasted the day—no matter how much personal work I accomplished.
Every Saturday, all I wanted to do was stay in. I was constantly away from home during the week, either at school or at work. On the weekends, I just wanted to relax and not make “a day” of anything.
Nobody else I knew felt the same way, though.
Stay at home? No problem!
So when the stay-at-home orders began over two months ago, you can probably guess how I felt: relieved. I was worried that the virus had become serious enough to warrant it, but at the same time, I was fine with being forced to stay inside. Also, since I work in New York City, I was concerned about my health more than anything.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to stay healthy during the last two months. I’m extra careful when going to the grocery store and grabbing take-out. I have also properly social-distanced from everyone apart from my boyfriend, who lives with me.
But when anyone asks me how I’m dealing with the “stuck at home” part, I hesitate to say I’m doing fine—maybe even great, actually.
Most people in my life are getting impatient and want things to “go back to normal” as soon as possible. While I, too, wish a global pandemic wasn’t threatening life as we know it and killing hundreds of thousands of people, you can’t deny that it is.
I do miss date nights at the movies and going out for breakfast with my mother. I miss aimlessly wandering around Target without wearing a mask. But all of that can wait, especially if that means my loved ones and I are safe.
Making the best of an unfortunate situation.
So how is a homebody like myself thriving in this time of unease? I have been spending a lot of time with me. I’ve also been:
- journaling daily and even recording voice memos while walking my dog
- reading books on writing to help improve my craft
- playing a lot of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and treating it as a creative outlet
- catching up on a lot of new TV shows, like Broadchurch and Derry Girls
With everyone forced to stay inside over the past two months, I have felt much less guilty about enjoying my hobbies because, well, there isn’t anything else to do. It has been a relief to just be myself without having to come up with excuses about why I don’t want to go to this party or to that happy hour.
Honestly, this quarantine has felt like a strange dream. Between the climbing death toll and the purely political discourse, it has been disheartening. I know friends and family who have gotten sick and recovered. I also know people who have died.
Yet, I have tried my best to find positives during this tragic time. These past two months have helped me connect with friends through fun video chats, cementing my belief that it’s possible to maintain friendships without being face-to-face at all times. It has also helped me focus on myself, my health, and my needs without apologizing or making excuses. And I plan on practicing that mindset long after this is over.
I do look forward to returning to work and the world being safe again eventually. But I will also remember this time as when I was finally able to be myself guilt-free.
How have you been coping with this unfortunate situation? Are you a homebody like me or do you miss your favorite hangout spot? I’d love to hear from you, and most importantly, I hope you are healthy.