I’ve mentioned in my first blog that I’m a very extroverted person, and that social distancing and quarantine was essentially my worst nightmare coming to life. Well, I’ve been in quarantine for almost three months now, and I have to say, it really grew on me. Does that mean I want to continue living like this? Absolutely not! But I could go a few more months and not mind it. Now, before you start thinking of all the ways quarantine sucks and why I’m some chippy antisocial weirdo, let me take the time to explain some of the good parts about quarantine. Trust me when I say this. If there’s anyone’s personality that isn’t built for quarantine, it’s mine. I love the company of others and I’m terrible at spending time by myself. If I can see the good parts, then I’m sure you can too.
Much Needed Alone Time
I used to be the person to think alone time was kind of useless. Why would anyone need alone time? Aren’t people more energetic when they’re around other people? Turns out I was really missing out. If you’re an introvert and often find yourself lacking the alone time you really need in our busy world, then you just won the lottery. I’m sure you’re probably finding this quarantine much easier than some of your friends are because you already know the value of alone time.
To my extroverts out there, alone time is needed. We don’t even know how not having alone time is affecting us because we’re too busy always trying to surround ourselves with other people. In the last 3 years, I never prioritized alone time for myself. I just thought I never needed it. I was always with my roommates, and if I wasn’t with them, I would probably be at someone’s house or I’d be trying to make new friends. Even when it came to things that I should’ve been doing alone – like studying or any productive work – I would look for a friend to do it with me. Looking back, this was absurd. The reality was, I don’t think I knew how to appreciate my own company when I was by myself.
After spending some dreaded time alone, I came to realize a few things. For starters, it’s pretty awesome to spend time by yourself. Yes, it takes a while to get used to the silence, but after a while you’ll be asking yourself why it took a pandemic for you to realize the importance of alone time. By being alone, I really had the time to figure out what my likes and dislikes were, what my passions were. I was even able to realize that a lot of the things I did was because everyone else around me was doing them. When you’re constantly with other people, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. I was around people so much, I never even had the time to stop and think why I was pursuing certain paths and not others. I needed time alone to figure stuff out. By doing so, I was able to find a new career that might be a better fit for my personality than medicine. I agree that friends are great for providing help and support, but you first need your own ideas and values before anyone can help you. Those ideas, virtues, and values come from spending time alone away from people.
Spending time alone is also amazing for all your relationships because you realize just how special and important the people in your life are. By always being around my friends, I took their time and company for granted (I even found myself being irritable for no particular reason). In our current world, we’re always connected. Literally everyone you know is in your pocket. You need time apart from the people you love. Otherwise you’ll never miss them.
I think the most important thing I learned by spending time alone was that if I didn’t enjoy spending time with myself, why on earth would others? Think about that the next time you’re alone and feel the need to be in someone else’s company.
Time to Become the Best version of Yourself
Let’s all just take a second and be honest with ourselves. You and I both know how it goes. You make a promise to yourself and to your friends about doing something amazing. You start doing it for maybe a week, you post your updates on Instagram, and then after you get some likes you quit. Over the last 2 years, I told myself I would get a 6 pack (cuz why not), learn to eat healthy, fix my sleep schedule, work on my time management, and not procrastinate. I was like Leonardo DiCaprio waiting for an Oscar, except –instead of eventually winning best male actor– I won worst picture. I gained 25 pounds, slept at three in the morning, and my schedule was falling apart as I improvised. I failed to do everything I said I would do, and I blamed it all on time. Well, now I have time and I think a lot of you do too.
Here’s the way I see it. You can either come out of this quarantine as a brand new person or as someone who squandered a lot of time. Either way, I doubt anyone’s coming out of it the same. You’re either going up or down, so why on earth would you choose down?
During this quarantine, I finally had the time to start exercising and eating properly again. I was able to get rid of the 25 pounds I gained over the course of the year. Learning also became fun again. I found out, much to my surprise, I was still able to read books (and that I actually enjoyed reading them). I even started picking up new tricks and skills such as music production, meditation, magic, writing, and even cooking, which is something everyone thought was a lost cause for me. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of these things, if it weren’t for quarantine.
Time for Catching Up with The People You Used to Know
We all have our close circle of friends that are easy to talk to and hangout with. However, there used to be a time where there were other people in your life. Did you ever stop to think about what happened to them over the years or how they may be doing? There’s something super strange about my generation. Keeping in touch with people should be super easy. We have everything: phones, Facebook, Instagram, Skype. We should be the most “social” generation, yet we suck at being social. For some reason, we have a hard time keeping in touch and remembering people we don’t constantly see.
I spent this quarantine really trying to catch up with people I used to know, but stopped keeping in touch with due to time, distance, and other random excuses. I literally got out all my past yearbooks and started going down the list for people to contact. Every day I contacted someone new and said the same thing.
“Hey, it’s Farshad. It’s been a while. I was just going through some old memories and I thought of you. What’s new in your life?”
After a while, I even made more of a habit to call my cousins, aunts, uncles and even grandparents. It’s something that took 5 minutes of my time, but I could tell that it really made their day. What’s strange is that I even spent the time to contact and catch up with people that I didn’t really like (childhood bullies, difficult people, random annoying acquaintances). In my head, I didn’t really know why I was calling them, but once I called them, it was totally worth it because it showed me that everyone was capable of change and being a new person.
Catching up with people and taking the time to contact everyone, even the people you didn’t really know, will never be a waste of time. It will always give you a new perspective and you’ll realize that you know more people in the world than you think. At the end of the day, you’ll never know who you’re going to be working with, or in the same city with, so why not take the time to have a good relationship with everyone? When I really sat down to think, I realized that I was less isolated than I thought. All it took was making that one random call. The world’s a lot smaller than you think.
Time for Being Bored
I think my favourite thing about quarantine is that I have time for being bored. Life’s so busy these days. When was the last time anyone had the chance to be bored? Everyone’s always working or trying to make plans that there’s never actually time for being bored. I’m not saying it’s good to be bored, but sometimes you really just need it.
I’ve realized that when I’m bored is actually when I have my best thoughts. It’s when I can stare at a wall and think about the emotions I experienced, why I feel a certain way, and it lets me really think about the person I want to be in the future. Also, when I’m bored, I tend to get reconnected with my creative side again. I think it’s because you let your inner kid come out. I don’t know if this is true for anyone currently reading, but when I’m bored, I have random dance parties in my room, I perform stand-up routines and concerts in front of the mirror, and I really just end up having a good time.
I know that this is an unfortunate period. You don’t need to tell me that. I can’t wait for things to go back to normal. I just wanted to share some really cool opportunities that this quarantine gave some of us. When things go back to normal, we probably won’t have the time to learn those random skills we always wanted to learn, and we definitely won’t have time to go through yearbooks and randomly call people. In the information age, time is always in short supply. Shouldn’t we all be taking advantage of this rare abundance of it? At the end of the day, we’re all going through this quarantine together. Maybe this could even be something that bring us all a little bit closer.
Thanks for reading everyone and I’ll talk to you guys next week.
“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”
Im Farshad. I'm a curious PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto. At the moment, I spend most of my time engineering DNA nanotechnologies 🧬, and researching how I can improve personalized medicine approaches. I also spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and how I can be the best version of myself. This website hosts a collection of my over caffeinated thoughts regarding my life and the world, as well as my notes on the various books I’ve read.