Contentedness in the Time of Coronavirus
Written by: Kimberly Hunt
Ordinarily, I dance five days a week. I go to North Idaho College four days a week, and attend high school classes online, and work at least two days a week. As someone who had been homeschooled my whole life until this past fall, I’ve had to learn new skills, such as self-advocacy and making sure all my accommodations are in place. Going to college as a high school student is a lot of responsibility, and I often felt overwhelmed. Sometimes, I wanted everything to stop, and to have that time to be able to just stay home and have nothing to do.
I learned to be careful for what I wish. As the coronavirus started to spread more rapidly, I got what I thought I wanted. I was hoping for a fantasy version of “reality,” where everyone was happy and content because the world held no concerns and no disagreements. But it turns out what I really wanted was a break from responsibilities, not a break from life. I wanted to be able to enjoy being with friends and have nothing to complain about.
When I first heard about COVID-19, it was just some sickness in China. My mom teaches English to Chinese children online and often told me what she had heard from her students. Meanwhile, I kept going to classes every day and to dance class every evening. I did homework and lived my typical, unaffected life. COVID-19 was just another thing happening somewhere else.
Slowly, COVID-19 made it to the USA. Everyone was worried that it would spread like it did in China, but I was one of those people who thought that everyone was just overreacting and that it was nothing serious. My boyfriend even decided he wanted to go visit Europe anyway. I wasn’t scared at the time because I didn’t think it was that bad.
When the Idaho governor finally enacted a stay-at-home order, part of me had expected it and wasn’t surprised, and yet I also couldn’t believe it was really happening. This illness, once a mostly abstract thing on the other side of the world, was suddenly too close to ignore. Suddenly, I had a jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings. I was scared that a loved one would get sick and scared for everyone’s safety, both near and far.
Around that same time, President Trump gave the executive order barring international travel. My boyfriend was still in Europe. I was terrified that he wouldn’t be able to come home. I’d never felt so much stress in my life.
Social media, once a place for connecting with friends, has been filled with people arguing, stories of people who caught the coronavirus, conspiracy theories, and dark humor. No one seemed to be supporting each other. Everyone was in a fight or flight response. The lack of community and empathetic connection made me feel more alone than the physical isolation ever could. I stepped away from it.
However, experiencing all this helped me learn to better manage extreme stress and quickly return to peace and contentment. My boyfriend returned home safely. The stay-at-home order has been in place long enough to make it feel normal. Staying home and not seeing friends can be lonely, but I’ve learned that even though we may not socialize in person, and may be bored out of our minds, there is still growth to be found.
This pandemic has forced me to learn how to be content with myself. I have found time to do projects that I had wanted to do for a long time but never got around to it. Quarantine will certainly weigh on my mind in the future any time I think about complaining about being too busy or about being bored. I can’t control anyone else’s emotions, but I can strive to positively impact the people around me. By not being constantly busy, I learned the difference between contented idleness and boredom.
Kimberly Hunt is a senior in high school from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. She is currently dual enrolled at North Idaho College. Kimberly, who was diagnosed as bilaterally deaf, was implanted at 3 years old. Kimberly has studied dance for 14 years, including ballet, tap, lyrical, and jazz, and has been part of a competitive dance team for six years.