New Virus… Who Dis?

Jasmin Rhee offers her thoughts on coping with self-quarantine and self-reflection during this “government-mandated” downtime.

As a full-time business owner, a part-time employee, and a parent, I interact with people from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay myself down to sleep. Naps are typically out of question, and when I’m not juggling work with motherhood, I’m trying to play catchup with my social life. All the while, I’m praying for a break every step of the way. 

Little did I know, that those prayers would have been answered in the form of a really bad movie. If the movie Contagion were to have a baby with Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, it would have pretty much birthed my current reality. Just over a week ago Covid-19 was deemed a pandemic, thus spawning a worldwide panic that’s forced us all to self-quarantine. But no big deal. I only have a business to run, a child that needs to go to school, and an entire life that typically takes place outside of my apartment!

Like most adverse situations, there’s always a silver lining. This one may actually have a few, so need for panic. This is a government-mandated staycation, and what do you do during a staycation? You relax, and the good Lord knows we can all use a little R&R. Now that I’ve spent an entire week away from people, and alone with my thoughts, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

Self Quarantine = Self Care

We all needed it. Some of us (myself in particular), spend way too much time away from home. In fact, I even moved closer to work, so that I can spend more time at work. Being in isolation has taught me how toxic my relationship with work had become, and how I’d failed to balance my time between my job, my son, and even myself. I’ve always been a proud workaholic, but overachieving at work doesn’t matter when the world seems to have spun off its axis.

After being forced to retreat for a week, I’m beginning to really understand how much of an impact my presence has at home. Not only for my mental health, but more importantly for my son’s. Children don’t just enjoy having their parents around, they need to know they’ll always be around. (Even when you think they’re too cool to admit it). 

Quarantunes

Every good movie has a good soundtrack to go along with it. I recently rediscovered the importance of music. Music has always played a vital role in my mood and productivity. With how busy I’d been in recent years, searching for new tunes to set the right vibes had become another task on the to-do list. This said, my vibes were in need of a heavy reset, and I think everyone currently on lockdown feels the same. Aside from all of the re-sharing of bad news, fake news, and endless Covid-19 news, the world seemed to be sharing a plethora of new and old music for me to dive into. And I love it! 

Just like scents and smells, sounds and songs help guide in the making of memories. Although I’m not sure if we need to remember the world flipping upside down, I think having a soundtrack for this chapter in our lives will help us remember a time where the entire world was forced to stop and smell the roses. 

Quaranteam

So I have this really bad habit of ignoring most of my non-work-related texts/calls. I wasn’t even sure why I still owned a phone until this very moment. During a time when we are all forced to be alone, my phone has helped me realize the importance of human interaction. 

Despite the silent chaos looming outside of our doors, there is a community of people on the other end of your phone waiting to embrace and encourage you. Such communities exist in almost every corner of our lives, but it isn’t until times like these that we truly begin to understand this. A movie can’t be a movie without a cast. The same can be said for our lives. Life just wouldn’t be life without the people we have in it.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have clients who have become friends, which have pretty much become my family. And as any family member would, they continue to check in with me to offer assistance during such time of uncertainty, and vice versa. For relationships like these, and the unwavering love and support that comes with it, I am forever grateful. I’m also fortunate to have a team of barbers that I connect with weekly, at my home away from home, EthosGSFM. Together, we’ve created a small ecosystem of sorts, where we can find and offer support to one another. In fact, we’re taking advantage of the free time we have now, and we’ll be extending our help to our local community by volunteering at Philabundance. I’ve been talking about wanting to do outreach work for years, but could never find the time to do so. Ironically, I’ve become the one in need, but now I actually have time to help out where I can!

Just two weeks ago, we were waking up without a care in the world, repeating the same mundane routines day in and day out. I had a job to complain about, my son had a school to drag his feet to, and life as we knew it, could not be interrupted. That was… until last week, when a world-wide pandemic forced us to hit the pause button on all of our lives. We’ve taken much for granted; Like human interaction, music, our jobs, and even… toilet paper (at this point, we’ll take any-ply).

It took a pandemic to reiterate the importance of basic human necessities, and therein lies our silver-lining.

I absolutely needed this time with my son, with myself, and catching up with life outside of work. I’m an Asian who was raised by a generation of Asians who don’t know how to express feelings of affection, which may explain my workaholism. This morning, for the first time since I was a child, I told my mom and dad that I loved them… and it was awkward AF. Better late than never though, right? I think they needed to hear it as much as I needed to say it, and hopefully, this will serve as a dawn of a new era filled with “I love yous!” Maybe. A girl can dream. I almost wish this had happened sooner, but maybe without the deadly virus. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *