Together in Isolation
It’s been a while since you last heard from us, and I think for obvious reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, and everyone has felt that one way or another. I’ve been trying to find something else to write about to change the topic of conversation for once (what did we even talk about before corona?). However, I’ve always been a firm believer of addressing the elephant in the room instead of tiptoeing around it, so let’s hit the ground running.
Frascati has become a spine-chilling ghost-town, friends moved away - who knows when, or if, we’ll see them again-, relationships end, relatives get worried, and uni life has changed so foundationally that it cannot even be called that anymore. Maybe it’s not that different for some people in other institutions and faculties, but for us here at UCG, where community fostering, and interactive learning are fundamental to the experience, the change is as undeniable as global warming (could it really be a UCG article without at least one reference to climate change?). UCG is like our second home; we’d go there to learn, to study, to stress, to chill, to have fun, and now it’s all just a memory. All events are cancelled, so there goes our chance to blow off some steam and distract ourselves, and simply going to the park with a few friends feels as illegal as smuggling drugs across borders. And as if that’s not enough, after springtime being shite for 2 years here in Groningen, the one year the sun decided to smile at us for longer than five minutes, we have to be quarantined. I remember how every time I’d see its bright but mostly unavailable smile, my soul would warm up and my spirit would be lifted, but now it just feels like that bitch is taunting me.
With all that, a wave of depressed moods, anxieties, and uncertainty is bound to ensue sooner or later. There is only so much serotonin our brain can keep pumping before our perspective takes a darker turn, and all we’re able to see is how much everything sucks. You wake up demotivated to work, and you stress because you know you must. Your sleeping schedule is doing parkour all over the place, and your diet would make nutritionists jump off a cliff. The quarantine life, much like normal life really, has its ups and downs, and these bad days are bound to befall, and I don’t think there’s any words in any language that I could conjure up in this article to prevent such days from happening to you; nor do I think I should.
I think, in the long run, the bad days are just as necessary as the good ones. We cannot be happy all the time, nor should we be, because then happiness just loses its value. I’ve seen spoiled kids, whose parents do everything to keep them constantly happy, get an iPhone and complain because it’s not the newest model, and I’ve seen the faces of homeless people light up with joy because I shared a small meal and a short conversation with them. The lows make the highs better, and make us more appreciative of what we usually take for granted. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but clichés are cliché for a reason.
Based on this perspective, I developed a trick to help myself every time quarantine gets to me and I feel a bit on the low. I remind myself how this is all worth it, because it’s only going to make the future so much better. Just think of that first rave after quarantine ends, that first concert, that first festival, that first night out with the friends you’ve missed; I know for a fact I’m getting destroyed, and I’m even looking forward to the next day’s horrendous hangover. I remind myself that, after everything chills down, this summer is going to be fucking historical.
In the meantime, try to channel your time and energy into something productive. Remember that book you've been meaning to read for a year but haven’t gotten to it yet? Here’s your chance. Wanted to learn how to play an instrument? What better time than now? Maybe take up yoga and try meditating to clear your head. Create yourself a workout schedule so it can balance out all the Ben & Jerry’s you’ve been stuffing your face with. Or buy yourself a canvas and some paint and go crazy. And as always, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, till the account owner does us part, Netflix is there for us.
Finally, remember that even though you feel alone in this period of social isolation, everyone you know is carrying the same burden, and undergoing a pretty similar experience. So in these turbulent times, maybe call your friends and check up on whether they’re doing well or not; or to let them know how you’re doing, because it is truly incredible the positive effect a simple, yet sincere conversation can have on someone. Remember, that even though you are socially isolated, you do not have to be alone. Just like sometimes you can be in a room full of people and still feel alone, other times you can be in an empty room and still feel loved and with company, if you know there are people out there who care about you. At the end of the day our relationships are all we have; protect them and cherish them, because that is what is going to get us through this chaos.
From everyone here at Slash: stay safe, stay healthy, and talk to you soon.
P.S. Happy 420 my dudes