By Chloe Ranger-Raimundi
It was March 13, 2020, a seemingly random Friday afternoon. I recall sitting in my high school English Composition class when the announcements sounded: “Hello students and staff, all after-school activities will be canceled…” Then we were informed that we would be receiving an extra week for spring break. I remember being excited. I remember being relieved and thinking that the break would be a great time to relax, catch up on my shows, and get ahead of some school work.
I refreshed my mind by forgetting all immediate school deadlines. I filled my time with foreign dramas and crafts. Fashion design piqued my interest and I picked up redesigning jeans and jackets.
Not more than two weeks later we received an announcement to the toon of: “Hello students, I hope you are enjoying your time off. Due to COVID-19, our school district will be shutting down through the end of April.” This was the gist of the alert we got following the first announcement that school would be stopped. I remember feeling tired. Following two weeks of isolation, I was feeling a run down.
I began to lose track of time.
Another announcement. “Hello students. In accordance with regulations and in order to keep our community safe, we will be shutting down our school district for the remaining 2020 school year.” By this announcement, one month into quarantine, exhaustion set in.
At the end of the 2020 school year, I was planning on taking a grand trip to Asia to celebrate the end of my high school year. My mother, best friends, and myself were supposed to visit Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China as a last hurrah before our college and professional lives began. Yet another reason I was feeling dejected: I was trying to cope with the fact that I would not get my time in Asia to explore and be free-spirited before I had to throw myself back into my studies and multiple jobs.
April turned into May. I completely lost all track of time. Mondays bled into Thursdays and days turned into uneventful nights. It was difficult to overcome the feeling of separation and repetitiveness.
Flash forward to June and I needed to start preparing myself to return to work. This proved to be a much more difficult task than I thought it would be. I am an introvert. Many people assume that an introvert prefers to be alone, a person who values time by themselves over time with others. While there are some introverts who prefer time spent alone, typically the terms introvert and extrovert refer to how a person recharges their social battery.
I enjoy being social. I love going to parties and I love my job as a waitress, where I am around people all day. The defining quality of my introverted personality, however, is that I recuperate by myself. After a shift at work or a gathering, I go to my room and draw or read or rest. An extrovert would find the social gathering to be a source of energy.
Quarantine was wonderful at first. I was recharging my social battery after a long three months of school. Eventually, the constant isolation became draining and overwhelming. Think about this: a device that has been kept on a charger its whole life.
When you keep a device on the charger for its whole life, it becomes dependent on that charger. After a while, it will overheat. When you take it off the charger to use, the device’s battery will deplete faster than normal.
This is very similar to my experience throughout this pandemic.
After about three months of being in isolation at home, I began to “overheat.” I was worn out from doing nothing. My mind was moving miles a minute but my body couldn’t seem to keep up. I eventually just shut down. There were days when it was a struggle to get out of bed.
When the time came to leave the house and return to work, it seemed like my social battery would expire before I even left the house. I would be so nervous and anxious thinking about leaving the house that I expended all of my energy worrying about what to wear and what to say when people tried to talk to me. The imaginary conversations I held in my head became all of the social interaction I could handle.
Unfortunately, I am still trying to build my tolerance back up today. At work, I have to take a break every few hours because the constant stream of people becomes overwhelming. I set aside a whole day for one grocery store trip. I have not been to a mall since the initial shutdown. It will take a while before I get myself back to the place I was pre-COVID-19. Luckily, I have supportive family and friends who understand and are patient with me.
Many people might have thought that the shutdown was a blessing in disguise for introverts. It turned out to be the most draining and exhausting period of my life.