Time in quarantine could be spent productively with self reflection.

This monotonous life people are all stuck in, yearning to be anywhere other than “here” and dreaming of the things taken for granted during regular life, can lead straight to negativity, depression and worsening circumstances. However, taking this free time and solitude to examine ourselves, our lives or our mental state can be truly freeing and give purpose to an otherwise dull experience.

While going through the exact same circumstances everyone else is going through, I came to realize there were some people I missed and some I didn’t. I noted who was reaching out to me, who wanted to talk, who sent me memes and who I thought of on a weekly basis. I also noticed channels of radio silence. After initially feeling sad and forgotten, I sat back and asked myself what those people actually contributed to my life. Were they “filling” my emotional and spiritual bucket with good memories and trusted friendship, or were they just filler?

So many seniors say that although college was the best years of their life, it went by in the “blink of an eye.” Maybe that’s because “time flies when you’re having fun,” but that’s also because time flies when schedules are jammed to the brink on top of a full college course load. Quarantine has forced everyone to stop because we aren’t allowed to do anything else, but taking this time for granted — as we did with our normal lives — would be a serious mistake.

College is a time to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the best years of life; don’t waste time with unnecessary filler. Putting time and effort into friendships or hobbies that don’t return an equal amount of happiness or life substance is like watering dead plants. No one wants to leave possibly the most dreadful time in the last few decades to go water dead plants. Leaving quarantine and truly living life to the fullest, making poignant decisions and making sure the people who add that special something to life know they’re important — that’s what makes time slow down. That’s how to stop and smell the right roses.

During quarantine, I’ve had the privilege to help watch my 18-month-old niece. Her parents took her out of daycare for obvious health/safety reasons, but they were essential workers. My online learning went according to her nap schedule. I realized I needed to prioritize family more. She’s growing up so fast, and I want to be there for those special moments. Going home for a weekend is more important to me now than a weekend of college parties, no matter how much I miss my friends. If it weren't for quarantine, I wouldn’t have helped her learn new words, learn my name or how to politely be put down as she says “dow peas” (down please).

Internal exploration doesn’t have to be about friends or families, it can also be about mental health. People are definitely down in the dumps lately but many people struggle with depression in perfectly normal circumstances. Don’t let depression quarantine your mind. Now is the time to reach out and talk about your feelings. The JMU Health Center website is active and full of resources to help deal with today’s difficulties.

Happy soul searching.

Rebecca Cutsinger is a sophomore Media Arts and Design major. Contact her at cutsinrj@dukes.jmu.edu