High School Corona-cation: Pros and Cons

Reema Demopoulos

April 17th, 2020

COVID-19 has changed people’s lives across the world, and in discussing how it has affected mine, I must begin by saying that I am blessed. My family is healthy. My parents have both kept their jobs (my father is a doctor, so he’s actually had more work than usual), and I have a stable home environment. I don’t even have to go outside if I don’t want to; in more ways than one, I have the privilege of feeling safe. For too many others, that is not the case, but even within the sphere of people in a situation more similar to mine, I know that a lot of my friends can’t stand our lives’ current state of affairs.


I’ll start with the positives -- of which there are many. I’ve been able to be relatively productive, so I don’t have to deal with the demoralizing feeling of having had my life put on hold. In the last few weeks, I’ve managed to:

  • draw recreationally, something I usually only have time for in the summer

  • practice guitar and piano more than usual

  • dye my hair blue

  • go for runs and bike rides to maintain my varsity track & field training (the season’s not *officially* over yet!)

  • keep up with my schoolwork (and put in actual effort, or more than I usually do)

  • get a healthy amount of sleep multiple nights in a row (... also something I usually only have time for in the summer)

  • Skype my friends multiple times a week to watch movies together

  • call my grandmother frequently (she lives alone, which takes on a different meaning when your solitude is legally enforced)

  • text the track team (to make sure everyone's keeping up with the workouts we assigned) (and to make sure they know that the track leaders are here for them in this time of need!)

  • Snapchat the fourth-grade kids I tutor (not for academic help, just to check in)

  • FaceTime my long-distance friends (for hours on end –– time differences are less of a barrier now)

  • And spend quality time with my sister and my parents.

But quarantine-fun-time has its downsides, too. I mean, obviously it does –– it’s not supposed to be “fun-time”; there’s a frickin plague going around (and I can’t imagine being part of the graduating class of 2020) –– but there’s things that I didn’t realize I’d miss this much, things I didn’t realize I’d have trouble with. My general health is fine (meaning I don’t have any COVID symptoms), but my diet, activity levels, and brain are suffering.


I’ve always had a bad habit of not eating when I’m stressed –– I’m not sure if I don’t get hungry or if I’ve just gotten good at ignoring it –– but my sister just recently brought it to my attention that this whole quarantine, I’ve only been eating once a day (and more often than not, that one meal is a pint of ice cream consumed after 10PM). I’ve lost weight, and for a sixteen-year-old girl who’s already under 100lbs, that’s not a good thing.


Even though I’m still exercising –– which, as a student-athlete, is a must –– I only do it every other day, and my average step count is still less than a twentieth of what it was pre-quarantine. Save for the rare occasion when I cook, I don’t think I’ve spent more than ten minutes just standing on any given quaran-day.


What’s more, I’ve adopted a mild but ongoing headache, and for once I think my parents are right: it is the screens. My screen time on my phone pre-quarantine was one to two hours per day –– if my Sunday Screen Time report said three, I considered that a bad week. Now, it’s up to six hours, and if that included my computer I think we’d be in the teens.


In my health’s defense, I am getting more sleep than ever. But even that isn’t entirely a good thing –– I’ve slept through school Zoom meetings four times now. (And my classmates often have to call me to wake me up in the morning –– I’ve changed my best friend’s ringtone to a deafening foghorn sound).


One of the hardest parts of quarantine, though, is something that feels a little weird to explain. Ever heard of touch-starvation? We’re probably all going through it –– basically, it’s just the idea that humans have a physical, mental, and emotional need for gentle skin-to-skin contact, and it is a real thing. (Read more here). Even though I’m spending hours each day with my friends, and I’m so happy to be able to see their faces through a screen, I miss being in the same room as them more than I thought possible. Holding hands, linking arms, leaning heads on shoulders and heads on heads –– tiny things that I took for granted now come together in my mind as a glaring reminder of the lack of physical human contact in my life today.


All I can do for now is plan for the future, when I see them after all this is over –– I’m still figuring out just how tight I can hug everyone without breaking anything.

©2017 by The Highly Indy Project

highlyindy@gmail.com, New York City

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