QuaranTeen: Rising high school senior Rachel Merritt shares her pandemic experience

Quarantine: “A restriction on the movement of people and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis.” — Wikipedia.

QuaranTeen: What it’s like to spend days, weeks, months on end studying inside your home instead of hanging with your friend, learning in person from your teachers, nor experiencing life as a healthy teenager. In this new Inkandescent™ column launched by rising senior Rachel Merritt, you’ll learn about her experience in the June 2020 “My Corona” edition of Inkandescent Women magazine. Please scroll down to read her article! 

My Corona: Insights from a rising high school senior

By Rachel Merritt, 18

As the coronavirus started to spread around the United States, I never expected my school to shut down. I was aware that some districts had closed, but I didn’t think the virus would cause us to stay home for months. I took my SAT in early March, and it was the last time I socialized with others. Even then, I was wondering if it was safe to be so close to other students. I remember seeing two boys wearing face masks. While others gave them strange looks, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should have done the same.

My concern: What if I brought the virus home to my family?

I didn’t realize it would be my last time on school grounds for the year. In the blink of an eye, my favorite stores closed, I could no longer see my friends, and there was a lack of toilet paper! Zoom became my new classroom, and my original 5:00 am wake-up schedule turned into 10:00 am. I could never tell what day it was, and the days began to feel the same.

My new reality: Zoom school

When I pictured taking my classes online, I imagined achieving perfect grades and having simple assignments. I thought that it would be less stressful than sitting in the classroom. Little did I know that I was seriously mistaken. If anything, it was even more stressful!

Asking questions over Zoom was easy but awkward because I wasn’t used to seeing myself on the screen. Communicating through email was even worse when my teachers would not respond for days. When online school first began, I was extremely productive and waiting for schoolwork to be assigned. I looked forward to seeing work pop up on my screen.

The workload wasn’t overwhelming, but as days turned into weeks, I found myself procrastinating until the day my assignments were due. I would turn in my assignments by the deadline, but it was not my best work.

Luckily, I earned decent grades, but my lack of motivation bothered me all week. Being productive during quarantine has been extremely difficult for me because there was no daily routine. When school was still in session, I would never blow off my work the way I did while at home. I was disappointed in myself for waiting until the last minute, so I pulled myself together and began documenting my schedule into what has become a source of sanity for me: my bullet journal.

My coping mechanism: The Bullet Journal

I definitely consider myself a crafty person. My desk is full of all sorts of pens, markers, and other fun stationery. Creating a bullet journal that focused on a high school schedule has helped me tremendously. Here’s how you can create one, too.

  • What it is: A bullet journal is a blank book (with grids or dots to create straight lines) that is used to create a personalized planner. You can add decorations, a theme, or keep it strictly as a planner.
  • How to get creative with it: I embellished the pages by adding in my own personal touches, such as stickers and brush lettering. I created a strict schedule and set up pages for my to-do lists.
  • How to get organized with it: Prioritizing school work is essential, and planning my week has helped with my productivity. Being in quarantine is not only about completing your work but also giving yourself a chance to do what you love.
  • How to use it to help you stay sane: Using a bullet journal has helped me in my education and creativity during this difficult time. Bullet journals aren’t only used for educational purposes; they can be used for bucket lists, habit trackers, playlist trackers, goals, and much more! I find that I have been able to experiment with other hobbies during quarantine, such as yoga, taking online classes, and baking. If you have wanted to try something new, now is the time!

My takeaways: This is a stressful time, but remember, it’s also a time to be easier on ourselves. For once, we are not running around on a crazy schedule! We will get through this pandemic together. Be patient.

About Rachel Merritt: Rachel has been expressing herself through the written word for over a decade.   Her writings include guides on how to study, and she is a talented calligrapher.  When this high school senior isn’t studying or in quarantine, you will find her hiking or at the beach! Stay tuned for more articles by Rachel in upcoming issues of the Inkandescent magazines.

Photo: Rachel, at the top of Bear Mountain in Sedona, AZ.

Illustration (top) by Michael Glenwood Gibbs