Time alone in quarantine made me re-evaluate how I manage myself

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Adam McDonald, Staff Writer

I remember spinning around in my desk chair, in early April 2020, with nothing but time looking me in the face anyway I looked. 

School moved online and became asynchronous, and the days of waking up, getting dressed and going to campus were gone. Coursework could be done whenever or wherever, and there was nowhere I had to be.

Back then, it felt as if I had nothing to do with all this time to not do it.

Before the pandemic there was always somewhere to be or something I could have been doing. Sports had practices, I had classes and homework and my friends were always up to something. But now I found myself scrambling to get anything done in these unstructured days. 

Online classes had me questioning why I had to submit assignments. This ambiguous schedule meant I had to discipline myself in order to not waste all my extra time. Submitting my school assignments was my only obligation, so as long as I did that the rest of the day was mine.

The initial change to online school was a bit bumpy. It took me a few weeks to adjust as I had never even taken a course online. 

I spent some days procrastinating, but eventually I figured I could use the extra time for something positive.

After those first few weeks, I mindfully forced myself into a routine to spend less time spinning around in my desk chair. The lockdown began to look more like an opportunity than a setback.

There were always things that I had wanted to do, but never really made the time. Life had come to a complete halt. After I submitted my assignments, there was time for all the things I had always saved for later.

During the course of the pandemic, I learned to surf, started reading books besides those assigned in school, and explored my own academic interests. Overall, having a few more free hours in the day allowed me to learn about myself.

Reading new books and articles recommended by my teachers sparked curiosities about subjects that never interested me before. Surfing helped me get outside and exercise doing something I had never done. 

The lockdown and subsequent socially-distant lifestyle also meant I could try different things I otherwise wouldn’t have. I shaved my head, motivated myself to workout alone, and took a few classes just because they seemed interesting. 

In the fall of 2020, I signed up for a journalism class after reading news articles in lockdown piqued my interest. 

Presently in 2021, I like to think I know myself better. But quarantine and remote schooling have not been without challenges. Time in isolation and the difference in workload and method of learning strained my ability to stay focused and manage my time.

The pandemic affected everyone differently. In my case there have been some positives to this year of lockdown. But I can’t say I’ve completely adjusted to online learning or this feeling of uncertainty about the world.

I still find myself spinning around in my desk chair.