Hooh! Where or how should I start? So, we have this pandemic that unimaginably shuts down the world. I never imagined this coming. I must admit I am one of those who took this virus lightly at first. Although I have been reading and asking my friends from the medical field about 2019 Novel Corona Virus. I must admit that I am a bit bias. I relied on sources saying it is not as deadly as SARS or MERS or at least that’s what I want to believe as I still continue to travel days before the outbreak. I even find it absurd when people online suggested a city lockdown. I thought it is not going to happen until March 16, 2020 when the Philippine President announced the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. That is when the tables turned and my most unexpected event happened.
I live in Benguet Province which is part of the Luzon Island so obviously I am affected by this lockdown. In our humble Municipality of La Trinidad, we are under 24-hour curfew. That means no one is allowed to be out wandering around the streets and public area with the exemption of frontliners and essential workforce. Each barangay (district) is only given ONE DAY in a week to go out to attend to their groceries, banking and medical needs from 8 am-5pm. In my district, our schedule is every Tuesdays. On Sudays it’s total lockdown. NO ONE is allowed to go out unless it’s an emergency or medical circumstance. Walking around is also not allowed as this will be considered as grounds for “Loitering” and you will be arrested when caught. When you are arrested you will pay a fine or you will be in jail for two weeks. Yes! That’s how strict it is in my hometown.
My initial reaction is quite fine. I didn’t panic and took it positively. “It’s just one month.” I thought. But that one month was extended to one and a half up to two months as of this writing and only God knows until when. There’s no assurance that we’ll all go back to normal even the lockdown is lifted. So as days and weeks pass by I noticed how I struggle a lot and raised some issues I never thought I would have when I still have the freedom to roam around.
I believe that most of us are experiencing this. In one snap, we are out of job or have our paychecks cut in order for our companies to survive. Although I am lucky to land on a project and work in-house for few weeks with a company during the quarantine period plus I have some savings aside for months of being unemployed, that didn’t give me any assurance at all. My livelihood depends on travel and the industry I am in is badly affected by this crisis. My plan to launch my business has to be put on the back burner and it is so heartbreaking since it is months of sleepless nights, hard work, and labor. I totally don’t have idea when will I get a job again and for the first time in seven years I felt financially unstable.
Travel is my number one source of motivation in life. I can go through months of hard labor and saving up thinking at the end of the season I’ll be packing my bags and exploring new places. But with the increase of positive cases everyday, it is uncertain when can I do this again. For almost two months of being lockdown with very strict implementation of quarantine policies I must say 70% of the time I was not productive. Before, whenever I feel unmotivated I usually go out for a walk to get some air and reward myself with milk tea but this simple joy of mine has been taken away. With that being said, I end up not doing much. My brain just shut down wasting my time looking at the ceiling for hours. I felt like I got too much time on my hand so the things I am working on can wait until I feel motivated again but that never happened. As a result I did not accomplished much.
As a traveler, I am in my happiest when I step outside going on adventure but during the quarantine I felt caged. That’s the exact way to describe it. I have never been this sad since my mother and my sister’s passing way back years ago. It felt doomed for not having a breather. I sometimes find myself staring outside the window crying without any reason. My sleep pattern was badly affected too. I am wide awake at 2 or 3 a. m which gives me more chances to entertain my 2 a. m. thoughts. The worst part is my nightmares. I usually have nightmares about me and my loved ones caged in a hospital. It is so scary.
This time the best alternative to hanging out with our friends and our loved ones is through video call. I sometimes had Face Time with my friends overseas and my family for a bit catching up. However, I also find myself having difficulty talking to them. When I talk to my loved ones I just want to share positivity and good things. But, what can I share at this moment? There’s nothing going on with me compare to when I was traveling. The fact that the lockdown is such a toxic time from news, social media to people has added to my difficulty in reaching out. Some of the people that I adore are just so opinionated since we have so much time to be involved. And these ones are the main reason why I distant myself to them. I don’t want to vent out my frustrations or rant to them. Some of them have different opinion from me and I don’t want to argue especially talking on the phone is quite different from face to face conversation. There are more chances of being misunderstood.
Dealing with Social Media
Social media should be a good medium for information sharing, fun and inspiring others. At least that was how I see and use it during my traveling days. However, I noticed that few days before the lockdown it started to be toxic and became worse as quarantine approaches. It was full of negativity with a lot of bad news and overflowing fake news. I saw a post of a friend raising an argument regarding how deadly COVID19 is and yes, she’s up for a fight while another would always post the increased number of cases then followed by criticizing the government. I am not exempted when I made a six-word sentence comment on an article. Someone came for me throwing harsh words even criticizing my looks. I ended up deleting my comment and promised myself to NEVER give any of my two cents anymore. I also logged out but since social media is my only source of news I logged in again two days after and just unfollowed those undesirable people on my feed. Gladly, I am doing fine.
Admit it! Eight weeks of quarantine is too long. Even though you are the most productive person in the planet there are times that you get bored too with too much time and nothing to do. Although there are trends that went viral on the internet to ease boredom it wasn’t enough for me since I am living a complete different lifestyle before, waking up in different places doing various outdoor activities. I am not used to following certain routine.
Fear of Missing Out
Now this is pure selfishness you may say. I know this type of feeling should not be present during this time of crisis. The first weeks of lockdown were really bad for me. I hated it. I hated the situation and the atmosphere of it. It even added whenever I check my friends’ ig stories and posts from overseas. They say they are on quarantine but how come they can still go out and play golf, some of them would go hiking and cycling for the whole day and others don’t have lockdown in their cities at all. At that point, I started questioning how the government is handling the situation. How come other countries are not having a lockdown and their citizens are free to move around while we are locked up in our home. But then I realized we have different situations, facilities and approach from other parts of the world. I should just start trusting the process of this and do my part. To stay home! I stopped snooping at my friends’ posts and just focus on my well-being during this quarantine.
Overall, it is not that bad at all. On the positive side, during the lockdown I learned to slow down, pause and appreciate things. I start noticing the beauty of my neighborhood which I just ignored the whole time. I made productive daily routine which includes allocating time to do household chores, watch travel movies (to keep me inspired), k-drama, read books, and work out. I turn off my phone data from time to time and only use it for a certain amount of hours per day to attend to my e-mails, updates regarding work and to check in with my friends and family. I learned to be kinder to myself. I start accepting that if I didn’t accomplish anything today so be it. There’s still tomorrow to do it. I constantly remind myself of my life mantra “If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”
*Bonus part, I deep cleaned my room and collected more than a kilo of dust (not a joke) which will not happen if it were because of the quarantine. LOL!