Father and Friends

Sofia MeshJune 24, 2021Connection and IsolationHelping Hands

Last April, I found myself feeling lost, distraught, and unmotivated. My school turned completely asynchronous, I moved from my home temporarily, and there was no sign of normalcy approaching any time soon.

Recently, I have been hopeful for the future as more and more people are getting vaccinated. Yet I find myself questioning how I got through those tough months last April, May, and June given how abruptly everything changed and how uncertain that felt. I've come to realize that it was because of a few special people I was able to stay close to during those times.

When I think back to those first few months of quarantine, I see flashes of different days. Many blur together, but the ones I remember are filled with low lows and high highs, not really much in between.

Some days I would wake up at 1:00 pm, unmotivated to do my coursework or really anything at all. I would turn on my phone and scroll until I felt like I couldn't anymore because of the anxiety I felt for my family, friends, or for the rest of the world, which was in a state of disarray.

It was not until 6:00, when my dad got off his conference calls, that I finally felt a little relaxed again. It was then that I could finally ask him to take a walk with me to the empty park at the high school across the street. There we would spend an hour and a half of every day walking, listening to music, and throwing around a basketball. The rest of my family didn't want to walk with me, but my dad made an effort after his long day of work, something I truly appreciated. Every day, even if I was anxious or down, having that time to get out of my house — and my head — was something I really looked forward to.

Had it not been for my dad, I don't know what I would have done to keep myself grounded and sane. I was grateful, but it took a lot to ask him to go out with me every day. Like I said, a lot of my days were filled with anxiety and sadness, and even though I knew going out would make me feel better, I didn't always want to leave my bed. After starting my day at 1:00 and eating breakfast, there was a huge part of me begging to stay right there in bed and not do anything at all. However, taking the initiative to push myself to leave the house and having someone to accompany me made such a difference in my mental state during those months.

Another thing I had to look forward to were my late-night FaceTime calls with my friends. It would be about midnight when one of us would FaceTime our group chat, and those calls are the brightest of my memories during those months. I don't remember much about the content of our calls, because we all weren't really doing much. Still, I do remember staying on the phone until 4:00 am every morning and laughing at whatever ridiculous things we were saying in our sleepy states of mind. The whole day I would say very few things because everyone was busy with their own online classes or work calls, so those late-night calls let me have the human contact I so desperately needed. Also, my family had never spent as much time together as we did in those months, so with all that time together and the stresses of COVID, we would bicker a lot and get agitated easily. Being able to connect with people who I wasn't obligated to see every day made all the difference. In a time when I could have lost contact with everybody and self-isolated, I stayed connected. It was a conscious reciprocal effort between my friends and me since we knew we needed each other to make those painful times bearable.

I have realized that it is not that hard to isolate yourself, especially during these times. But I know that it isn't helpful to my well-being. Although having alone time is important, it's very different from cutting people off from your life because of an overwhelming feeling of anxiety or sadness. Especially early in the COVID pandemic and even now, it's so vital for me to maintain my connection to the people I care about, to let them help me as I try to help them.

Sofia Mesh is an 11th grader at Millenium High School in New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading inspirational literature, and international travel.