Over the past few years, we’ve gotten used to the endless cycle of quarantines and lockdowns, endless plans and dreams being put on the back burner. However, this doesn’t mean your life has to be put on hold as well. We meet new people, face new opportunities, and take risks at home—even from behind the screen.
Back in my pre-pandemic days, I could always cure the mood of a failed quiz by going out after school to eat with my friends, or maybe even planning a fun weekend to take the pressure off of a big project or exam. But as we transitioned into the online term, a harsh reality I had to accept was that those days are long gone.
Now that we are all living remotely, some of the outlets we used to rely on seem to be out of our reach, and hangouts with friends are few and far between. Finding joy in memes, movies, and social media just doesn’t seem to work the same way it did before. Living life in the same environment every day with little to no new stimuli—forcing us to indulge in it over and over again. How do we find our new escape?
Point of no return
I can proudly say that I’ve developed the “now or never” mindset that I always wanted to have when I was younger, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am someone who excelled during the pandemic at first. But while the recognition I received for my efforts kept me going for a while, it came to a point where it simply wasn’t enough to motivate me. These temporary bursts of dopamine wouldn’t last, and I needed something greater.
My performance started declining as I slowly failed to keep up with my academic, organizational, and creative demands. I would put social plans on hold just to finish work and take a breather when, little did I know, the declining social interaction was throwing me deeper into the spiral—embedding me further into my stagnant routine.
My so-called outlets would be scrolling on my phone, impulsive online shopping, and binge-watching on Netflix. I settled for fleeting pleasure instead of searching for any permanent answers.
Letting loose a little bit
At the peak of those weak moments were spontaneous decisions to get myself into anything that sounded enticing: relationships, drama, or whatever I thought could give me that adrenaline rush I was looking for. I wanted something to distract me beyond my academic and professional pursuits, I wanted to let loose and pause being that “perfect” responsible student for a while.
When COVID-19 cases spiked again in 2021, however, I was reminded of the outlets I used to rely on such as going outside and meeting friends, and how there would inevitably be times where I couldn’t rely on them. I realized that I had to be content with my own company, because at the end of the day, you only really have yourself.
The lives we live at home are just as true as our “real” lives. The choices we make behind the screen can have the same effect as the decisions we’d make in person. We aren’t living in a fantasy. I learned this the hard way, but we need to know when to say no to something that is affecting our well-being. So I decided to try reconnecting with the outlets I had been yearning for, even in simpler and smaller ways.
I finally accepted invites to hang out with my peers and go out with my family every once in a while. Something as uncomplicated as checking up on old friends and planning get-togethers sparked the change in me and gave me hope. The familiarity of these outlets reminded me that I didn’t need to reach farther for alternatives; that I didn’t need new thrills and I just needed to reconnect with the old.
This entire time, the satisfaction I got from familiar outlets was already more than enough to replenish my energy and drive to get through everyday.
This article is also published in The Benildean Volume 8 Issue No. 2: Reacted.