Photo by Joyce Milandu

Junior Mary Ma reflects on doing what she enjoys during quarantine in place of academic stress.

Mary Ma

It’s been around a month of quarantine. Life has been different; it’s been better but also worse. Being alone has allowed me to discover new things about myself that I would have never known with all the hustle and bustle of normal life. I’ve painted more and slower than ever before. I think more about what I want to express with my paintings; I don’t just slap paint on a canvas and pray that piece gets into an exhibition. Life is slower, a 9 a.m. breakfast, pajama pants that I’ve lived in for the past 3 weeks, a new baking project every week. Without all of the noise of daily life, the school projects, quizzes, tests, competitions, applications, I suddenly find myself confused. I spend time doing what I love, altering my clothes, playing video games, baking, cooking and painting, but at the same time, that pressing, lingering feeling of unproductiveness settles in, a gentle malaise that tinges my every action. I think about more “productive” things I could be doing like studying for APs (which I also do a lot of these days), writing my college application essays, looking for new internships since all of my summer ones have been canceled. I feel guilty for letting myself be happy; I’ve lived so long under stress that it feels wrong to not have anything to do that could further my academic prestige. 

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