Quarantine: a blessing in disguise?

I’m from Poland, but I’m a full-time Illustration student in London. So when the pandemic started to get serious, I was back in my dorm in London, alone and anxious. It was finals week for the term, so while trying to work on my final assignments I navigated my way through living in London without a mask (they were sold out everywhere) and packing as much as I could to my small carry-on suitcase, because I didn’t know if I’d be back to collect the rest of my stuff. I didn’t want to get stuck alone in the UK, but I also didn’t want to catch the virus on the plane back. It was all a big mess.

Thankfully, me and my parents made the right decision and I got back to Warsaw a day before all the flights from the UK got suspended.
I really missed home. That’s what hit me when I got back. Of course I missed my family, but home is also friends, favourite places and food, and now, because of the quarantine I wasn’t able to enjoy any of these things. Like for many of us, my initial reaction was panic. I was terrified of the virus, but also of not being able to see anyone and of being stuck at home. The uncertainty was what got to me. How long would this last? What if any of us catch Covid?

Every day passed so quickly, yet so slowly. At first I filled my time with things like watching youtube and playing Minecraft with my brother. I had a final project for uni, and somehow finished it, battling with procrastination and figuring out how to use Zoom.

A couple of weeks passed and I got really really bored. I didn’t know what to do anymore, all of the days were the same, at some point I even didn’t know what day it was. Not only did I feel blocked creatively, I also felt uninspired to even get out of bed. I stopped caring. I got bored of boredom.

So I started baking. We couldn’t buy pastries online with our food delivery, so at first I started baking simply because I was craving something sweet. I baked bread, cakes, pies, rolls, just whatever I wanted, trying to use what

we had available online and in the pantry. I made cakes for birthdays, since we were not able to buy them.
There was something so nice and refreshing in making the cakes myself. My family liked them way better, simply because they were homemade and customized.

I’ve always loved baking, it used to be something I did with my grandmother or my parents. I never really had the time to do it though, as I grew older, in my mind it became something very tedious and time-consuming, so I ended up rarely doing it. Quarantine made me fall in love with baking all over again.

Baking started giving me so much joy that I wanted to create a platform where I could share some of my creations with my friends and family. That’s how my second instagram profile @mayflovr came to be. I add colourful backgrounds, cute captions and post all of my baking adventures on there. It gives me so much happiness and motivation to exchange photos and recipes with my friends.

Seeing that I had so much success with baking regularly, I started working on other activities I’ve always wanted to do. Reading was another hobby of mine, but I abandoned it in high school because of the huge workload. My friend Bianka showed me this really cool daily reading calendar to track my progress. I slowly began to read again.

It was really tough at first, but the calendar and my friend’s support helped a lot. I’ve been reading frequently since the beginning of June and have read 12 books in total. This maybe doesn’t sound that impressive, but to me, compared to a big fat 0 last year (excluding books for school) is definitely something I’m very proud of.

With the help of my grandmother I learned how to knit during the lockdown, which was always my dream. I grew up in my grandma’s sweater creations and couldn’t wait to continue her legacy. I’m incredibly happy that I made the decision to take up knitting! It’s probably been my favourite lockdown

activity aside from baking, because it does wonders for reducing my stress and anxiety and is a great way to express myself creatively. Throughout the quarantine I made a few scarves and am now in the process of making a knitted vest. I also started doing embroidery.

In the midst of doing all of those things, I realized that I’m not bored anymore. I became excited to do something new everyday, to push myself not only creatively, but also in terms of simple everyday chores. Baking, reading and knitting helped me to see that if I want to, I can be productive. You see, the key word here is ‘want’. I realised that I’m unstoppable, but only if I truly WANT to be. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but to me, this was a huge turning point.

Although I could write on and on about my hobbies and how much I’ve grown, to me, the most important thing is how lockdown brought my family together. We started talking to each other more often, we played board games and cards, watched movies, made food together, went on walks. This time served us really well, and overall I can honestly say we’ve never been closer.

Meeting my friends online ended up being quite bittersweet. We tried to make the most out of the resources we had, playing board games online, using group chats and talking on the phone or through Zoom. I think, paradoxically, we all put in more effort to see each other while we were in quarantine. But of course, you can’t compare online to face-to-face meetings. I can’t wait to meet all of them, now that things are starting to open up again.

I am incredibly grateful to say that aside from being in lockdown, my family and friends haven’t been affected by the pandemic. I know there are many people who suffered tremendously during this time, and lost their family members, jobs and homes. I am really sorry and can’t even imagine how

hard it must be to still live with the consequences today. As I said, I am extremely thankful that I got to use this time this way.

Quarantine shifted my perception of my everyday life. Suddenly every minute I got to spend with my friends online, every walk outside, every project became so much more important. Days passed so quickly, that everything that was even slightly different from the routine was extremely exciting. I remember the joy when I first went to a regular grocery store. Seeing ‘the outside world’ felt like a blessing – before the quarantine something like going grocery shopping was simply a chore.

I want to make an effort to maintain this mindset of being so excited anytime something ‘unusual’ happens. I invite anyone who’s reading this article to try doing the same. Even in the smallest of things it makes a huge difference.

I’m eternally grateful for this time. It served as a huge wake up call. Quarantine motivated me to finally start doing what I love and stop procrastinating. It made me realise how much time I had spent on meaningless things, and ever since I try my best to use what I have to my best ability.

I have to say that the lessons I learned during this time are more important than the inconveniences. If you had to take one thing away from this article, remember: you can do anything if you really want it!

I don’t have anything else to say. For me quarantine was truly a blessing in disguise.

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