Upsides to Quarantine

Opinion writer Zach Freeman discusses an upside to the quarantine like developing new skills and hobbies.

With everyone spending much more time indoors, we are presented with a unique opportunity to do the things for which we often wish we had time. The coronavirus has drastically altered our day-to-day lives. Many are now unable to leave their homes for anything that isn't essential and a large number of people are currently working from home. This has led to a significant shift in how we spend the majority of our time.

Many students still in Aggieland now spend most of their waking hours online, doing classes, socializing, and seeking an escape from the stress and monotony of reality, which is pretty much what we were doing before all this started. But for many, going to physical classes was a source of fulfilment and social enrichment. No longer able to do that, many find themselves more isolated and with more free time than with which we know what to do. This change can be disorienting and disheartening for many. Alternatively, I've been trying to treat it as an opportunity to enhance some of my skills and do things I've always put off due to a lack of time.

Not all of my efforts have been equally successful. It turns out that boredom and crisis don't always make for the most productive mindset. But one thing I am proud of is experimenting with recipes and growing my cooking skills lately. Before the stay-at-home orders, the most complicated thing I was comfortable cooking without fear of something going wrong was bacon and pancakes. Recently, I've grown that list to include fried chicken and shrimp, lots of pasta dishes, stir fries and many different recipes that include potatoes. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew – there's no way to go wrong with potatoes in any near-apocalypse scenario.

Though my cooking skills may not be Master Chef worthy, I can at least have some decent food in between binge-watching the whole series. Cooking, while necessary and enjoyable, isn't the only thing to which you can devote much of your new-found time. There are a wide variety of skills and hobbies just waiting to become the centerpiece of everyone's mildly interesting post-COVID-19 conversations, so don't be afraid to go crazy with it. Work on your writing skills, knitting, drawing, exercising, plant-keeping or meditation, to name a few examples. Anything to help you keep your sanity while locked indoors.

Now is the time to try anything that has ever made you think, "Oh, that's interesting" or "I'd like to be able to do that." You'll be spending excess time learning a new skill or honing one that could be improved, and in the end, you can't be any worse off for trying it. For some, this may even be an opportunity to dive into something about which you're passionate, even if that passion is just learning how to relax better or become more comfortable with yourself. Both are valuable skills that we all need and can use right now to better our lives for when this is all over.

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