Ever since the coronavirus hit and the world was forced to retreat into their homes for their own safety and the safety of everyone else, I think we’ve all begun to feel a sense of dullness. Staying in the same house for such an extensive amount of time will begin to wear down the brain of anyone, even if you’ve been quarantined in a massive palace with a billion hot tubs or something. The feeling of boredom and sameness is universal for all of us who have stayed home since March.
I know I’ve been feeling particularly down lately due to the worsening virus and other uh… political issues. When faced with the new year I found myself questioning a lot of things, but mostly I found myself asking, “Is this really a new year if I’m still doing the same old, same old?” It didn’t feel much like a new year on January 1st when I woke up and lived the same day I had been living since March of 2020. It felt even less like a new year on January 2nd when I lived the same day again, just without the spunk of the date on the calendar.
Normally, we view the new year as a way to start fresh. A blank canvas to paint with new, better experiences than the year before. Perhaps highlighting this the best is the phrase “New year, new me,” which is incessantly repeated by people on Twitter every January.
So, when faced with a ‘fresh start’ while still self isolating, how do you make the new year feel new? Well, ideally the year would feel new because the coronavirus would suddenly disappear and we would all be handed millions of dollars by Jeff Bezos, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s a set of established rules about leaving the house and what activities we should or shouldn’t be doing that we should be following, which really limits any options to starting fresh. Working with all these restrictions, I’ve been trying my best to freshen up my life with some new strategies and I thought I’d share them here.
Freshening up my space
I, for one, have been spending a positively alarming amount of time in my bedroom lately. It’s now become my classroom as well as where I rest my head each night. Honestly, over the months it’s begun to feel less like a bedroom and more like a never ending chamber that only emphasizes the monotony of everyday life.
In an attempt to make my room a little less dull, I’ve taken a few interesting steps. The first thing I did was replace my chair with an exercise ball. I know, I know this is what all the fitness gurus on Instagram tell you to do before they try to scam you into buying a weight loss smoothie that is actually just green tinted milk but trust me, it works. A chair is all fine and good until you're sitting in it at your laptop for hours a day and I’ve found that replacing it with an exercise ball has made my countless hours of typing much more bearable (Side note, I am literally sitting on the ball as I’m writing this, that’s how much I swear by it. Side side note, I am not sponsored by exercise ball companies).
The second thing I did to freshen up my space was a more literal approach. I went out and bought an air freshener with a ‘tropical’ scent. I know this sounds kind of silly, but it made my bedroom feel like a new place. I can close my eyes and pretend I’m in Hawaii rather than a dull mainland suburb! Hey, everyone needs some good escapism. Most of what I just said was a joke, but I’m not joking when I say that this air freshener brought a great new scent to my space and made it feel a little less same-y.
If you’re not looking to delve too much into rampant consumerism, there are some other ways to freshen up without spending money. At the beginning of quarantine I rearranged all my furniture on a sporadic whim which helped with the early-quarantine blues I was feeling. Throughout the months I’ve experimented with where to put things on my wall or what I want to throw out. There was one night where I impulsively ripped off an old poster from my wall, which while small, definitely was refreshing.
The day to day
Something that’s helped me with freshening up my life in the new year is simply mixing up my day to day routines. It sounds a bit obvious and cheesy, but it’s really helped me. Small things like taking a different route to the coffee shop or going on a walk in a neighborhood you’ve never been before can bring a sense of excitement and adventure when we can’t do much else.
Another idea in this field is taking a one second video every day. I did this last year and compiled all my videos into a 7 minute IGTV video, and that was a great way to reflect on the year. For 2021, however, I’m trying to put even more effort into my one seconds and make each as different from the last as possible. I’m trying not to reuse ideas as much as I did last year (seriously if you watch my 2020 one second videos there are like 200 of my friend’s dog, it’s like I wasn’t even trying).
Another way I’ve been freshening up my day to day is with new music choices. I’ve been experimenting with music I didn’t think I’d like. Lately, I’ve been getting into SZA and her 2017 album, ‘Ctrl’, which is an album I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy but now I can’t remember what life was like without it (not exaggerating. I have already formed an emotional attachment and it has been a week). Not all of them are direct hits of course. I tried listening to some country music, which is a genre I don’t usually like, and I ended up not having the best time. After my slightly nightmarish country music listening session, I didn’t even feel bad. I felt refreshed and enjoyed my usual music even more than before.
I have never in my life been able to use a consistent planner. In middle school they would give us the school provided ones that had the school’s mascot printed poorly on the cover and then sometimes your teacher would make you write in it to make sure you stayed up to date, but I’ve never been one to actually check my planner (which is arguably the most important part). Every school year of my life I’ve bought a nice planner and said to myself “this is the year I plan things” and then a week later my planner is blank and I’m forgetting things again. I even did it this year, thinking being online would help me (spoilers: it did not help).
For 2021 I am falling into my old trap of trying to be organized but I have a feeling that it’ll go better this time. I’ve been using an online planner called Notion (again, not sponsored) which is helping me get my ducks in a row. Even if it doesn’t work out long term, trying something new is worth it to add some spice to my life.
In conclusion, the world is a never ending spiral of meaningless nothing and dullness that ultimately is small and worthless as we’re just on a floating rock in space and the universe is ever expanding and we’re just tiny specks in the grand scheme of things and there’s nothing we can do about it; but at least we can make our room smell like pineapples, right?
Okay, I’m mostly joking. Mostly. Okay maybe half joking. While things may not matter in the grand scheme of things, it’s important that we be happy anyways. Sure, the universe is infinite and we are infinitesimal but why not enjoy our nothingness? The same old same old of living in quarantine doesn’t have to be miserable and dull, and it’s the little things that will get us back to feeling great.
ash reynolds is a junior in high school. they have always loved writing and have been doing it since they were a little kid, as well as other forms of art like drawing, photography and music. ash is the social media co-runner and prose co-editor at love letters magazine.