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Aug 27, 2021 12:32 PM

Photo Essays

Before quarantine, I felt like I wasn't learning about myself and there was something in the way of my life. Though I still had a sense of who I was and how I wanted things to go, I have always felt different. I’ve always had a different taste in music, didn’t dress the way everyone else did, liked different food, and had a different overall lifestyle. This is hard because my “friends” and family were completely different than me when it came to these traits, which made me feel odd and strange when I was around others. I have done and learned so many great things during quarantine, and since it has ended, such as learning how to be with by myself, developing coping skills for my anxiety, trying new hobbies and exploring independence (I’m still working on expressing myself).

Art has been one of my coping skills since my early years of life. I took a long break from drawing, but quarantine has brought it back into my life and I am forever grateful for it. Drawing helps me put my feelings on paper and express my creativity without being judged. The greatest thing about drawing at this point in my life is you don’t have to show anyone — you can completely express yourself. I felt like I needed this outlet the most because expressing myself a lot of the time was a struggle because I felt different from the people around me.

I started watching anime when I was about 12. My first anime was one punch. The phase slowly started to fade when I saw my friends watching shows that were nothing like the ones I watched. I got back into anime when I was about 14, but I did it discreetly because I didn’t want to be judged. Now, since COVID and quarantine, I have been able to watch as much as I want without being judged because no one is about to judge me. This helps my anxiety because I am able to focus on a whole new world and get away from my own for a few hours.

Working was something that I picked up over quarantine. At times, it becomes a stress reliever because I feel accomplished. I get this feeling because I'm working towards goals like saving money for things I want, need, and, soon, desire to have. Working gives me drive and helps me not feel tied down to my house. I rarely go outside. Working gives me the opportunity to go outside, interact with others, and make connections.

Independence is something that I had to learn throughout quarantine. I needed to learn how to control myself without looking for others to control me. I had to learn how to help myself. As you can see in the picture, taking the train by myself has helped me. I've been taking the train to show that I don’t need help to get to work — I can get to work on my own and I can get there safely. I feel like independence is very important because I’m growing up. The less I rely on others, the more I rely on myself. I felt like that’s one of the things I need the most.

Positive connections are very important in this life, but in order to grow, I had to cut off the negative ones. The only person that continued to fight for our connection was my boyfriend. He always makes sure that I am secure and reassures me to be who I am and nothing different, as I do the same for him. I am pushed to be greater than myself and comforted in the ways I looked for in my friends — not judged, not treated differently. Quarantine took all the people and “friends” I thought I needed and showed me why I didn't need them. Now I am free to be my true self.

During quarantine, I had to stop going to a lot of my favorite restaurants and hang-out spots because of the restrictions. Quite frankly, it wasn’t that safe. Now, I actually prefer not to go to any restaurants or rather cook for myself because not only does it make me feel good it’s a new hobby I enjoy because I really wasn’t that great of a cook before quarantine.

The hardest part of this journey was learning how to be alone. Out of all the changes, this was challenging. I never was aware of how doing things alone without any opinions or criticism felt. Sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air, but sometimes you feel like you're missing out on life without being around people. I have learned that it’s okay to be alone to get your thoughts, feels, and life together without feeling judged.

I had a sense of freedom finally, quarantine has changed my life in the best way possible. I was free to be who I wanted to be without feeling blocked or limited. I still struggle with figuring out my true identity and personality. I have come to the conclusion that that's okay because I'm figuring life out. Aren’t we all?