As I write this letter, I look outside my window and see no one, no commotion, no fighting. I see plain empty motel rooms and shiny windows. I can hear the morning birds chirp when I crack open my bedroom window just a little. I find myself baffled at the thought that I no longer wake up to noisy streets, or customers fighting early in the morning. This feeling is strange to me; it may be normal to some that live in a typical neighborhood, but for me it felt odd. Now questions rapidly flood through my mind every day: Is this peace? Is this solitude? Living and working at a local motel can feel unusually comfortable at times because I am never alone. Customers flow in and out of the hotel office connected to my home. I’ve always been surrounded by people, but at the expense of my privacy; if it wasn’t my parents or my brother, I had the last resort of the old woman that lives in room #19. I feel perplexed. It became an uncomfortable feeling because my environment became completely different. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? One underlying question continues to devour my mind: Is it okay if I sit down without the constant demands I’ve experienced in the past sixteen years to read a book, or should I be making phone calls to local politicians and legislators demanding that we do more?
Being able to sit down and write for a school blog feels like a guilty pleasure. I have the ability to make phone calls, to make connections in our school district, to reach out to those who can help, but writing this feels more meaningful to me instead. I wasn’t able to champion a project like this when school was in session. I wasn’t able to shut down the motel and have the chance to go for a stroll outside without the fear of customers glancing at me, so maybe you did something good. I suddenly have more leisure time to read, write, play games, and spend more time with family. I am able to have more time to do things that I enjoy. I realize I took the leisure activities for granted when school was in session, and always prioritized my academics. Now, you, Covid-19, made me see what life has to offer beyond schooling. A sense of freedom from my daily responsibility made my decision to sit down and read a book the clear, obvious option.
The world is learning to adapt to its new life, just like I am. The first week was challenging,
trying to get used to the new routine and balance that everyone in the world had to create for ourselves. It all felt like a dream when I entered the doors of my local supermarket, and saw people ravaging through shelves and fighting over the last gallon of milk. The initial shock of the first week was daunting, but now as week four is closely approaching the world has learned to better cope with itself from the hardship that you’ve caused.
Suddenly instead of worrying about the outside world, and all the commotion about politics,
economics, entertainment etc., the people are worrying about themselves. They are spending more time discovering who they are as individuals. Prior to this epidemic, people were deeply invested in the lives of others, such as celebrities and social media influencers. I am also guilty of dedicating more time to the lives of others than my own. I was interested in whether or not Sanders was surging in polls rather than worrying about my deteriorating mental health from our school shutdown. Now, people have the time to sit down and write about how they are feeling. People feel vulnerable and are trying to make sense of themselves because of you. Having the opportunity to write this helps me authentically express myself, and not be restricted by boundaries, such as school and work that takes up much of our time.
This experience has become a catalyst for people finding the best version of themselves. I thank you for giving us this opportunity to search for our unique identity. You have helped me discover who I am outside of my academic accomplishments. The best thing we can do collectively is to stay at home to keep those who are risking their lives, safe. During this quarantine, take some time to reflect your true self. This experience will continue to change who I am.
Yours truly, Khushi Patel