April 25, 2020
Dear Future Self,
As of right now, I have been in quarantine for a little over a month. I have moved out of school early, and I am living at home with my mom, dad, and sister. Even though I have been out of work since March 17th, luckily my family has been able to continue to work from home. I am thankful that my family is financially stable during this time, however, I can see this transition has still taken a toll on all of us, but it has also been positive in some ways as well. I want to remind you of some things I have learned because of the experiences I have had and emotions I have felt during this pandemic that is applicable in all parts of life.
I have been feeling lonely because I miss seeing my friends, coworkers, teachers, classmates, and even strangers every day. During quarantine I have only been in contact with my immediate family probably 95% of the time. There are certain things I do not talk to my parents about; however, I cannot talk about these things because I am only around my immediate family. I feel lonely in this sense.
I have been feeling overwhelmed because I have a lot of responsibilities for my classes that need to get done, but I am still expected to spend time with my family, do fun things with them, and complete tasks or run errands for them. I am also overwhelmed because typically when I am home, I am on a break, and I do not have as many school responsibilities. It is new scenery to complete work in, and I am unmotivated because I just want to rest and do things that I normally do when I am at home. It is much harder for me to get into the working mindset when I am at home. However, through Zoom and my counseling class, I have found some comfort in scheduling. I have not done this very much before, but I have found it to be helpful.
I have been feeling curious because although I have a lot of responsibilities, I have a lot of free time. I have been curious about trying new things like cooking new recipes, drawing or taking pictures, trying new exercises, and organizing my room in new ways. For example, I have been working on learning to do a split, which I have never been about to do before; I have been drawing new designs and experimenting with photography; and I have been de-cluttering my room.
I have felt hopeful some as well because I have seen many people connecting more and being more supportive of each other through social media. People are somewhat more on the “same level” I think than ever right now, which is kind of comforting in a way to me. One example of this is on American Idol. The judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie are all judging the singers, who are performing from their homes, from home! It was really cool to see everyone be so vulnerable to invite America into their homes to still keep the show going. It has been really great to watch the show this season. I am just hopeful now that there will be more love and connection in the world following this pandemic.
I have also been teetering between feelings of guilt and appreciation. I have noticed how important the essential workers are now more than ever. These workers deserve a lot more appreciation than they receive. Every time I see them or think about them I feel great appreciation for them, but usually immediately after thinking this I feel guilty for how much I overlooked their importance before this. I feel so much more gratitude for these workers now.
Through these feelings, challenges, and accomplishments, I have realized and learned a lot of valuable lessons that I believe will help you in your life. Most of what I have learned has to do with appreciation.
I have learned to not only appreciate the time I get to spend with my friends, but also the time I get to spend with my coworkers, customers, teachers, classmates, and strangers. I was taking these interactions I was have multiple times daily for granted, but when that is taken away you realize how important this is to you. So, appreciate all the time you get with these people.
I have learned that scheduling and keeping a planner can be greatly stress relieving. If you are ever overwhelmed, making a schedule for yourself can be comforting and allow you to feel secure in the free time you have opened up for yourself. If you are not scheduling and keeping a planner now, I suggest that you do.
I have learned that trying new things can be therapeutic and exciting, and it is important to make time to try things you have never tried before. Being creative allowed me to learn new skills and build confidence in myself. If you have not tried anything new lately, or even if you have, you should go plan to try something soon. It really is a mood booster, and it allows you to get away from daily thoughts and stressors for a little while.
I have learned that in times of great stress, especially a worldwide pandemic, what people really need in life is other people. Social interaction is so important. People need each other, especially in tough times. The world is not all bad, there is a lot more love than you know or from what you hear on the news. I encourage you to continue to build relationships and cherish them. Be a source of comfort to others and help others when you see someone in need.
I have also learned that it is easy to take workers you come into contact with every day for granted. I have much greater appreciation for essential workers now. I just want to remind you to appreciate and show that appreciation for the Wendy’s drive-thru workers, the janitor at school, the Walmart associate, etc. These people are so important in our daily lives and showing your appreciation for them could make their day.
I hope you are doing well, and anytime you are feeling lonely, or overwhelmed, I encourage you to look back at this letter. You may feel lousy now but knowing you can use this time to grow is really encouraging. I hope that remembering this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the things you learned from it helps you now.
Sam, Your 20-year-old Self