Lessons I’ve Learned from Social Distancing


photo source: CalMatters

Jillian Fisher '21

Before the COVID-19 virus was deemed a pandemic, I’m assuming that I acted like everyone else. “Oh, nothing will happen to us,” I thought. “So what if schools close? I get to hang out with my friends every single day!” I thought of coronavirus as an open gate, where there were endless possibilities of going out and finding new places to explore. I deemed the severity of these current events benign, not foreseeing how big of an issue this virus really was to the world’s health and stability.

I’m assuming that everyone else had the same experience as I did; the impact came at a moment’s notice and ruined the notion of how our everyday lives would be, starting when St. Luke’s announced that March exams would be conducted at home and the school would move towards online learning. 

At first, I was furious. Wednesday, March 11, would be the last time I would see my friends in person for a while. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my people outside the bubble of my immediate family. My emotions got the best of me anytime someone mentioned how we could be stuck in this situation for weeks, maybe even months. I hated the prospect of losing control.

Gradually, this virus brought a different perspective to my eyes. Instead of focusing on all of the things I would be missing, I looked towards the things that I needed to start doing now. 

First on my checklist: Realize that I cannot be selfish. Too many lives are at stake to go to that restaurant or that friend’s house and risk spreading the virus further. Being stuck at home has given me the time to reflect on what could actually happen if I end up in a space where I’m less than six feet away from somebody. I came to the conclusion that in the end, it’s not worth risking lives to do things that will be available after the virus settles. Holistically, sitting at home is the small price to pay. Instead of perceiving this as a boring inconvenience, consider how being stuck at home will protect vulnerable people. 

Second on my checklist: Relax and keep my mental state stable. The coming weeks and months are unknown. The world is in disarray, and almost no one has experienced this forceful of a quarantine on an international scale. Recognize that everyone else is in the same position and move forward from there. Make sure that you stay strong and lead as a positive example for anyone experiencing confusion, anxiety, and discomfort. Check in on friends and family to support them, even if it’s from a distance. 

Despite coronavirus shutting down a majority of our lives, it has given us a chance to do the things that most people barely have time in their schedule for. We can connect with our family more, finding moments to do activities together. Rather than fitting our family into our hectic lives, we have twenty-four hours to interact. We can find new hobbies to do, new ways to create and explore parts of ourselves. That book that you’ve been wanting to read and that interesting idea that you’ve been wanting to attempt can all happen today, even in the restricted area of our house and backyard. 

Personally, I’ve been able to go on walks and breathe the rare fresh air that people don’t get while stuck indoors at school or work. It gives me a chance to clear my head and remain centered. I’ve found entertaining and insightful ways to keep myself busy. I am a serious dancer with frequent rehearsals in NYC. Even though dance has been cancelled in person, my crew has integrated to virtual classes, which has been something to look forward to throughout all of the uncertainty. I’ve also been FaceTiming with friends, which has been a source of happiness and laughter. 

My final piece of advice: Make the best out of the opportunity. Try new things, and be healthy and engaged both now and once the world makes it out of the tunnel.