An extrovert’s guide to quarantining

| Staff Writer

I spent 10 days quarantining after getting contact traced a few weeks back. When I found out that I was going to be contact traced and put into Washington University quarantine housing, my first reaction was to try my hardest to see if I could leave school and complete my quarantine from the comforts of my own home. I had written an article for Student Life about quarantine/isolation housing and had heard firsthand how negative the experience was for many people. Those interviews didn’t exactly ease my concerns. I’ve also always been someone in need of a lot of stimulation from other people, and I worried I would therefore struggle with my mental health in quarantine.

I’m writing this to hopefully help ease some of the anxiety that people might have going into quarantine and give some tactics that might make your time quarantining somewhat easier. So without further ado, let me share with you the (un)definitive extrovert’s guide to quarantining.

My (limited) qualifications for this guide:

  • I just spent 10 days in Quarantine housing
  • I’m an extrovert
  • Julia Robbins | Student Life

    The Knight Center on the Danforth campus is reserved for those who need to self isolate.

    Vlog like you’ve never vlogged before

    First off, I realize most people just skipped through the overwhelming majority of my Snapchat vlogs. I probably would have too. However, I think that vlogging into a mostly empty void is a big part of how I stayed sane during the quarantine.

    I decided to make a vlog once I got the official call that I was contact traced. I created a private story on my Snapchat and added in anyone from my life who I thought might be interested in my quarantine journey.

    My very first post to the story was an image of a bottle of honey with the caption “Heading to quarantine housing today and will be bringing this.” I guess that post foreshadowed a lot of my food-related content in which I would unpack the three meals a day I received and provide some food reviews for the handful of viewers who listened to what I was saying. In addition to my food unboxings, I also posted videos of my musings about life in quarantine and minor realizations I had while being stuck in a room by myself. Most of my content was objectively boring/subpar at best; some of my content was decent; I laughed at a good chunk of it when I looked back at it. To be fair, I probably found my vlogs funny because of my low content standards while in isolation, not because they held any real comedic value.

    Connecting with the outside world inherently takes more effort than normal when you are removed from that world. Engaging with other people through vlogs was an easy way to feel like I was at least somewhat engaging with other people. I always appreciated the responses I got a few times a day to certain parts of my stories because those responses were proof that at least some people were actually listening to at least some of my content. (I had low standards not only for my own content but for how engaged my viewership was.)

    I also like talking. So vlogging helped me talk at times when I otherwise would’ve just been talking to myself, which isn’t as fun in my opinion. And now I’ll have my vlogs to look back on when I want to remember what my life was like in quarantine during a (hopefully) once in a lifetime global pandemic. Those 10 days felt a bit like something out of a 1918 period piece about the Spanish influenza, so having documentation of those days might be interesting down the line.

    Know that you can make it through without going nuts

    Once I was placed in quarantine housing, the best thing that I came to terms with was that fear and anxiety about the rest of my quarantine was counterproductive. It would accomplish nothing besides create more fear and anxiety. So let that fear drift away. Take things day by day, hour by hour. I know we all hear that advice frequently in life, but during a mandatory 10-14 day quarantine, that mindset is extra important.

    FaceTime people as much as they’ll let you without making them (too) insane

    It’s easier to feel bored and alone in quarantine when nothing’s going on in your room than when you’re in your dorm room alone. At least when you’re in a dorm room, you know you could walk outside and meet up with other people. Not having that security of knowing that you can meet up with someone anytime you want can cause you to feel isolated. So call people. Let people know you want to be called. Work with people on FaceTime or Zoom even if it means you’re both just sitting there working. It was incredibly comforting for me to have people stay on FaceTime with me for hours so I could have company.

    If you’re in a place where friends can come outside your window, tell them where you are (ideally they’ll take the hint and come visit you)

    I got very lucky. I was quarantined in the Knight Center with a view onto the courtyard outside of Bauer Hall which made it easy to see visitors. Due to my nice setup, at least one of my friends came to visit me most of the days I was in quarantine. Even if your setup isn’t as ideal, it’s still nice if friends can visit from afar for a few reasons. For one, it gave me a break from staring at my screen because I could look at my friends through the window instead of on FaceTime. It also was just really nice to see humans in person. You feel more connected to people when you can see them physically, even if you are seeing them through a window, multiple stories apart.

    Take stock of what is good about your situation

    It’s easy to focus on the negatives. Try not to. I spent time thinking about the aspects of my room that I liked, like the bed, the blackout blinds and the shower. I valued the food that dining services delivered which was overall good and superabundant. I appreciated my family who checked in on me and was available to speak with whenever I wanted company. And more than anything else, I felt insanely grateful for my friends who were with me, both virtually and a few stories below, throughout the process. I’m thankful for the jam sessions, the dance parties, the study hours, the Netflix watching and the conversations that got me through quarantine feeling good most of the time. So to whoever is reading this who helped get me through quarantine, thank you. I appreciate it.

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