Generation Z: Experiences in Quarantine
Words by Teresa de los Reyes, Akasby Pante, Elisha Peji and Jairus Sarmiento
Art by Krischelle Cadao
After three long months into quarantine, it seems that our lives couldn’t be any more different than before.
Without any warning, we suddenly had to say goodbye to the simple things that we once deemed normal such as going to school, catching up with our friends, and bonding with our families. COVID-19 has left us lost and unequipped to cope with this situation, and as the days pass and the uncertainty of the future continues to grow, so does the toll it takes on our mental health.
The pandemic has altered each of our lives differently. Coming from different backgrounds, having different personalities, and being part of different generations, our circumstances are also bound to be different. For Generation Z in particular, COVID-19 has drastically affected their education, extracurriculars, and social life. We wanted to gain deeper insights into their thoughts and experiences so we decided to interview six individuals and ask them a few questions.
*Note: All the interviewees have requested to remain anonymous so we will not disclose their names in this article.
How does quarantine affect your life?
Among the responses we received, the majority of the interviewees said that the quarantine has not changed much of their daily life as they usually prefer to spend time alone at home. Nonetheless, they still expressed feelings of sadness since they cannot meet their friends.
However, this was not the case for one interviewee as she claims that the quarantine has gravely affected her daily routines:
“In general, I’m someone who enjoys having places to be, errands to run, and tasks to do… dance classes, training sessions, social gatherings, and other meticulous activities… Because most of my commitments require social involvement and physically being out, quarantine really messed up my daily agenda,” she shared.
In contrast, another interviewee views the quarantine in a positive light as it made him realize what he took for granted in his daily life.
How do these changes affect you mentally?
While two people said that quarantine has positively influenced their mental health because of the lack of stress from school and the time it gave them to reflect, the rest of the interviewees shared how their mental health has suffered greatly due to the circumstance.
“As someone who’s been completely engulfed by productivity culture, quarantine often sends me into the fear of remaining idle. The inability to execute my normally busy lifestyle occasionally irritates me and causes my uneasiness. It’s as if unproductivity is one of my brain’s greatest enemies,” one interviewee said.
“This quarantine has caused me to feel numb. My emotions are on a constant rollercoaster ride. I have really low lows and high highs… My mental health before this quarantine wasn’t at it’s best anyways, the quarantine just made it worse. I’m really grateful to be able to stay home but at the same time, it’s driving me insane… It feels like I’m just pacing back and forth constantly,” according to another interviewee.
Were there any challenges during the quarantine that you have faced?
Based on their responses, we found out that most of our interviewees’ worries focus more on the aspect of mental health. Being forced to stay at home, they said that it was quite easy to find themselves alone and left to their own thoughts. Oftentimes, they began to feel overwhelmed and spiraled downwards.
While none of the interviewees are struggling financially, they are perfectly aware that this is not the case for everyone. They acknowledged the fact that there are families who don't have the luxury of staying home and who are concerned if they will still have food on their tables for their next meal. They are also aware of the sacrifice of the frontliners who are risking their health and their lives to save others.
“I’m beyond grateful for having parents who are able to maintain my physical health, and I do my best to empathize with families who are financially struggling during this pandemic. To help these families, I’ve participated in numerous donation drives and outreach programs,” according to one of our interviewees,
"There’s a constant reminder that I’m not the only one suffering right now. The whole world is suffering too,” another interviewee said.
How is your online school situation? What difficulties have you faced with online learning? Has it been your top priority during this quarantine? Have there been any distractions or hindrances to online learning? What changes have you made to your environment to adapt to online learning?
Two people answered that they haven’t started online school yet. However, most of those who have said that it’s hard for them to stay focused while being in a relaxed environment.
One of them has also stated that online education is not one of her priorities, adding that she is not avidly preparing for all the workload and the homeschool setting. Most recently, however, she has been trying to change that by studying for at least an hour a day.
In contrast, another interviewee has stated that they find online schooling to be a better form of learning because they find it more convenient.
Aside from the pandemic, the world today faces a lot of problems that fill our social media feeds. How does that affect your mental health?
Most of our interviewees deemed the state of the world excruciating to watch. With so many issues regarding climate change, police brutality, human rights, and even politics, they said that seeing these kinds of news 24/7 has made them feel exhausted and pessimistic. Nonetheless one of them has found comfort in the fact that there are people still fighting for change:
“I think I've been able to, at the very least, stay optimistic about the situation after seeing the actions taken by my fellow youth to try and solve these issues. I firmly believe that our generation will not allow these things to pass unnoticed, and that change will come eventually. Staying positive despite challenges is a quality I take pride in,” he said.
What are your coping mechanisms?
With a lot of terrible things going on in our world, most of our interviewees said that the best way to cope is to distract themselves through various activities. Some of them occupy themselves with hobbies such as playing the piano, reading, cooking, and working out. Others rely more on technology and the internet by playing video games like Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). There is also the option of watching Youtube videos or popular Korean dramas.
Aside from that, they also shared that constantly being able to communicate with their friends during this time, despite not being physically together, has also been of great help as they allow themselves to look back at the good times they have spent together and to look forward to the time that they can see each other again. Another person has mentioned that practicing mindfulness has helped bring her back to the present.
Do you have a support system during this quarantine?
The majority of the interviewees have considered their friends and families as their support systems. The rest of them, on the other hand, mentioned other things such as music, pets, and also themselves.
“Facing hardships and struggling is not and will never be something you need to do alone. It’s wonderfully calming and comforting to have people beside you as you pick yourself up. So, strengthen those relationships, and love your friends and family like there’s no tomorrow!” one of them said.
Inspired by the responses we received from the interviewees, we compiled a few tips on how to cope with this new lifestyle:
Take breaks from social media. The news and everything that is happening can be very overwhelming, so it is more than okay to take some breaks if you need to. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Talk to your loved ones. Times can get tough, so talking to a friend or your family members can be really helpful. You can check up on them or just tell them how you’re doing.
Immerse yourself with hobbies. There are so many things that you can do at home such as baking, cooking, reading, gardening, and other things. These things can help you feel good about yourself and you can also learn something new!
Express yourself positively. When you’re sad or angry, it’s so easy for you to just let everything out in a violent manner. There are alternatives when it comes to letting your emotion out. For example, you can write everything down or draw what you’re feeling. It’s much healthier compared to other violent coping mechanisms.
No words can describe what this pandemic has done to the world. It has brought a lot of changes into our daily lives so we all can’t help but feel uneasy. And in a sea full of terrible events, responsibilities, and distractions, it becomes incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed. We want all of you to know that these feelings are valid and completely normal.
However, we must be strong. We must remain hopeful. And we must remind ourselves that we are not alone. If we work together and do our part to end this storm, we will once again be able to sail calmer seas.
JULY 20, 2020