How to Bear with Loneliness During Quarantine

The solution to loneliness from remote learning is to accept it by realizing having friends is not the only way to be happy.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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By Shirley Tan

The feelings of isolation during quarantine sank in right around the time I was accepted into Stuyvesant. I missed the connection with my classmates and teachers I had received in person, and I barely talked to anyone for most of the day. There was a hollow cavity in my heart that made me feel like I was about to cave in. Near the end of remote eighth grade, I was dragged into an abyss of a lack of motivation and my Instagram feed, but I was able to dive into my love of music. I explored a kaleidoscope of genres and subgenres, reveling in Franz Liszt’s insane piano skills, MF DOOM’s instrumentals, Frank Ocean’s “Blonde,” and indie artists’ songs. Recently, I’ve even dared to approach the rabbit hole of K-pop, since once you like one song, they all start to sound amazing. Every song has the capability of being unique in terms of rhythm, melody, harmony, groove, and composition, so I did not want to limit myself to only one or two genres.

Exploring the depths of music takes time, and the quarantined summer gave me enough of that resource. However, it became a long, hazy blur in my memory as I lacked focus and productive activities. I felt disconnected from my friends, who went on vacation and lived their lives away from the Internet. I wished that I could do the same, but I was stuck at home. My parents were busy at work, so I spent my time alone navigating the Internet and keeping up with the Stuyvesant Dear Incoming Facebook group. I had so many promising online opportunities for social interaction with my fellow freshmen, but I just couldn’t take the initiative. I created a negative feedback loop where I felt awkward, so I began to distance myself from new people but then became more lonely and then awkward. All of these factors made my emotional state plummet; the music I would listen to reflected that decline with its slower tempos and melancholy melodies.

Then, Stuyvesant started. I was looking forward to finding out how to socialize in a remote setting and discovering what high school was like, even if it was remote. I was never desperate to make friends, since I had my old friends who still talked to me, but I tried to be proactive in the breakout rooms. However, after enough awkward silences, I gave up and retreated behind my screen. I joined many clubs and tried out a few new activities, but I soon realized that I lacked passion in almost all of them. Everything felt like a waste of time. I spiraled into a deeper and darker mindset, turning up the volume in my headphones and trying not to think.

Nowadays, I still find it challenging to connect with other people. Even in class, when I see everyone’s cameras turned on in the Zoom gallery view, I still feel disconnected, as the 2D screen makes everything feel superficial. I don’t really communicate with people in the same clubs as me. “Meeting” new people failed to cure my chronic loneliness.

I turn to music once again. It can shrivel away from the dread of life passing by. The guitar strums. The bass throbs. The beat drops. Only now exists—the present—and leaves me alone with harmonious sounds that make me want to get up and dance. As a form of escapism, music makes you realize that you should not take the problems in your life too seriously, whether they are assignments, missing socialization, or having nihilistic thoughts. If you can be happy in the moment, then you know that at the end of the day, you will be all right.