The Bright Side of Quarantine

An+appreciation+shot+of+a+delightful+brimming+nespresso+coffee.

An appreciation shot of a delightful brimming nespresso coffee.

Paloma Urrea Díez, Lifestyle Editor

On a Saturday quarantine night, sipping a glass of wine and sitting next to my mother who was fully submerged in her book, profound thoughts filled my mind. Only accompanied by the crackling sounds of the fireplace, I had a smile-inducing realization. This quarantine is making an enormous impact on my personal growth, convincing me that numerous positive outcomes will soon evolve from it. During the first, and should I say, most depressing days of quarantine, my brain was flooded with gloomy thoughts about the ways in which COVID-19 unsympathetically stirred my life, but life is different now. Without doubting it for a second, I grabbed my mom’s work agenda, opened it to a blank page and began listing all the ways in which this quarantine has changed me and the way I interact with the world around me.  

Having my mom by my side made me realize how much the bonds with my family have strengthened. In our “normal” life, dinner was the only time of the day we spent time together, yet, during this quarantine, new traditions have been created. Instead of my mom cooking dinner alone, all my family contributes. While my brother sets up the table, my father takes care of drinks, I keep an eye on the pasta, and my mom makes the bolognese sauce. Cooking together creates a sense of unity that I have never felt before. We joke around and my parents tell stories from their grandparents, which I truly love and not always have the chance to listen to. After dinner, we move to the living room table and play a round or two of Liar’s dice or RumiQ, making board games a tradition. Most importantly, the trust I have in my parents has significantly intensified. Snuggling between them in bed for an hour-long chat before going to sleep has become my daily quarantine habit. Before quarantine, I would not talk about my feelings to my parents, making opening up to them a new adventure, which I consider personal growth. 

Only by staring at my half-gone glass of wine and recognizing my inner peace, have I materialized how mindful I’ve become. When I think back to the face-to-face school mornings, I visualize myself taking a two-minute shower, rushing to the kitchen, and not even having the first bite of my “arepa” to realize my bus had just arrived. At school, I ran from classes to meetings and then hastened to get lunch before the bell rang, then when I got home from school after GIN, I got my gym clothes on promptly so I wouldn’t get fined by Pico y Placa. My life had the speed up button turned on, but, now, it has been turned off. Practicing mindfulness has become part of my daily routine. A couple of weeks ago I encountered an opinion article ‘Use this time in quarantine to practice mindfulness’ from The Daily Aztec, reminding me of the importance of being conscious, present, and aware in any situation. Right after having mentorship, which is the school’s kick-off of the day, I go to the kitchen, serve myself a nice warm coffee, and go for a walk around my finca, savoring every sip, noticing my neighbors’ cows, feeling the humid grass below my feet, looking up at the clear sky and for the first time in a long time, pausing and appreciating life. Then, whenever I feel it’s time, I cook my own breakfast, owning every step of it. I have learned to be conscious of my daily routine and fully concentrate on what I am doing. This is a true blessing because most of the time we do not actually live life, but just see it pass by. 

Other than strengthening relationships and improving my inner consciousness, this has been an opportunity for me to build on new skills and discover new hobbies. After quarantine, I could be called a hairdresser, cook, lawnmower, or professional jigsaw builder. Last week, my mom was desperate because her hair dye was now halfway through her head, so she needed a touch-up and she asked me to do it for her. Without the slightest idea of how to dye hair, I decided to look for a YouTube tutorial explaining how to do it and called Ruby, my hairdresser, through FaceTime for guidance. I wore some plastic gloves, originally bought for COVID-19 protection, rolled my pajama sleeves, and began. According to my mom, I did a great job to be an amateur, making me feel like a professional stylist. Furthermore, I successfully baked an angel food cake, which my grandma says it’s difficult to make. Up until now, I have made four recipes from the @Chefinexperto Instagram account, targeted towards people, like me, who are not experts but love to cook. I mowed half of my farm’s front lawn and, finally, built my first 500 piece jigsaw puzzle on my own in just under three hours. Time during quarantine seems to be eternal, but due to that phenomenon, I have left fear and laziness behind and identified new skills and activities I had never thought of before.   

These are some of the positive outcomes quarantine has granted me. Very deep in my heart, I feel that this phase of my life is allowing me to build the best version of myself. From learning to dye my mom’s hair to being mindful about my actions and making trust with my parents iron-hard, I know I will leave this quarantine distinct from how I entered.