Thoughts from Quarantine: Is Time Really Our Enemy?

By: Eli Azizollahoff  |  April 24, 2020

By Eli Azizollahoff, Staff Writer

The irony of living in a quarantine is as much as it seems that we have infinite time, our time also seems to be monopolized in ways we cannot control. 

So many teachers seem to think boredom is our worst enemy that they have assigned additional work to what we already had. On top of that, many of us are juggling remote internships, being active members of family house dynamics, and trying to upkeep our mental health in this time of consistent and pervasive anxiety. With all of this, it really seems not very helpful to have more academic stress piled on as well.

What has made this all the worse, for me personally, is that with quarantine and trying to juggle the work of school, internships, and searching for jobs for next year, I am forced to self-regulate my time. While this skill is important, generally one if forced to self-regulate amidst a fixed amount of time – for example, making sure you get the required work done within the eight-hour workday — self-regulation is not usually a 24/7 mental task and now that it has become so, it has increased my anxiety exponentially. 

Whereas before I could calculate and schedule my day around classes, extracurriculars, studying, and time to tend to relationships in a manner that allowed and allocated time to take care of myself and my own mental health, now that system has been thrown out the window. Now, since all time is given to us to divvy-up and allocate, with the addition of the extra work that we have been given, for the first time in my life, I have found that if I am not actively being productive I feel like I am doing something wrong. 

Before this pandemic and the switch to total self-regulation, I had the capability and the personal experience to know my boundaries, to know when I needed a break, to know how to take care of myself and give my mind some time off. Now, though, I feel that if I am not constantly working, I am falling behind, and my “to do list” feels never ending. 

This has added its own unique form of stress in this already stressful time. It is not enough to live in a constant state of heightened anxiety from the global pandemic we are living through. It is not enough to feel the weight for academic, work, and life stress bearing down on us. It is not enough to be worried about our loved ones’ health and when this will all end. No, on top of our already suffering mental health, we must also have our own minds yelling at us to work harder. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but my sleep schedule has been entirely wrecked since the beginning of quarantine. In part I think this is due to the way days and weeks seem to blend together in this monotony, but in part it is because each time I lay down, my mind races with all the matters I still need to attend to. Have I checked in with that one friend? Did I make new content for the site I work for? Is my article done? When is that assignment due again? Maybe instead of writing about the Dead Sea Sect’s death rituals I should write about their views on women. Should I start a YouTube channel? I haven’t written any new poetry in a long time. It goes on and on. 

I have had two conflicting feelings for weeks now: 1) Work, schedules, and class are keeping me sane and stopping my mental health from nose-diving in light of the historical event we are living through. 2) I wish I could just stop for a moment and let myself be. Just exist. Curl up in a warm blanket, drink some tea, maybe watch a show to let my subconscious work and actually process everything that has been happening lately. 

Because that is the additional thing, isn’t it? Besides feeling like I’m running and running and running nonstop, and I will exhaust my physical and mental resources before this year is done. I also feel like my subconscious has yet to have the opportunity to sift through the mess of what we are living through. Until it does, I don’t know how my conscious mind can either, and I think that is its own weight on my shoulders. 

Usually when I write, I want it to serve a purpose. Just like my brain, this piece feels like a jumble of my own thoughts and feelings on life during Corona. But maybe that’s its purpose —  helping me process. Or maybe its purpose is that if anyone else is feeling this way, know you are not alone. Or maybe these are just words that felt like they needed to be said. 

Regardless, for all of us, I hope the world heals soon and I hope our minds can stop feeling the weight of it on our proverbial shoulders.