Simulating a lost year: an unbalanced quarantine life


Jocelyn Mintz

In quarantine, it may often feel like time slips away from us.

By Alex Schupak

Over the course of the summer, our daily lives stagnated and social interactions dwindled. Staying indoors slowly instilled a fear of the unpredictability that lay outside our doorsteps.

This inactivity has extended into virtual learning. There are no bustling hallways or brimming classes, so we have to make do with the awkward silence of Zoom lessons. Yet, throughout the first quarter, my school work has given me a sense of purpose. Though I’m not always fond of the assignments, I can’t help but feel grateful that something is directing my life and filling my time.

Before quarantine, my education was my most present nuisance. Each day was a struggle to cram homework, assignments and tests into my schedule. Now, I’ve stopped lamenting the restraints of school and have started to appreciate them.

In the midst of a pandemic, I’ve grown to love the predictability of schoolwork; the satisfaction of turning in an assignment is immediate and certain. It’s my Sunday morning Cartoon Network binge or an insatiable craving for a bag of cheese puffs. After a while, it feels like junk: pleasurable but often empty.

Though I might have due dates and deadlines, I don’t feel any sense of urgency when completing my “junk work.” Endless Zoom classes and online assignments are designed to simulate a typical high school experience, but they are a mere skeleton of it. Online school, although necessary, will never foster the same personal growth and involvement as in-person school. Temporary senses of fulfillment will become stale, and students like me are left wondering how to regain a sense of normalcy.

I constantly find myself looking for solutions. I’ve started new hobbies, but few of them last longer than a week. I’ve planned project ideas, most of which have yet to come to fruition. Maybe I haven’t been the most successful in finishing, but brainstorming is an activity in and of itself. The prospects have filled me with a jolt of energy, a welcome motivation. Over the summer, I started building a large format camera. It was a way to fill time during a stunted year, and although I didn’t get very far, it made me excited to wake up each day. 

None of it alone can solve all of our discomforts, but I’ve come to realize that no one solution needs to.

The search so many of us engage in to occupy our time aren’t always about finding or pursuing our passions. Death totals rising, we search, because some days, searching is enough. Even when the country finds its footing again, I’m not sure we’ll soon fill the void that the pandemic brought to our life.

So students, schoolwork taking over our days again is for the better, not because the work is important, but because anything that meaningfully fills our time is a luxury right now. Nevertheless, as we hit the second quarter, diversifying your palette of activities is crucial in holding onto a year torn from so many people. We’ll never fully reclaim a lost day, but we can try our best to make sure we don’t lose any more.