Corona came to the Netherlands around January 2020. China and Italy were already affected and chaos seemed to arise. A month later, the government decided that quarantining as much as possible – close to lockdown – was the only solution. Only vital professions were allowed to go to work. Schools closed, just like shops and offices. The streets were empty, everyone worked from home. Nothing changed for me. What the government called quarantine turned out to be my normal lifestyle.
When the government gave a conference about the measurements they were going to take to prevent Covid-19 from spreading on the 12th of March 2020, I expected this day to be the end of life as I knew it. Everything I had read so far told a story of an anxious, claustrophobic world on pause. So, I prepared for the worst, mentally and physically. The government set out some guidelines:
- Wash hands and keep 1.5m distance from others when out in public.
- Stay at home as much as possible. Only go out for groceries, walking the dog or helping someone else. Work from home.
- All events are canceled.
The next morning, I got up. I went to the kitchen to eat breakfast. I had not been to the supermarket since I have physical limitations, m groceries have been delivered to my home for about a year now. After a nice shower, I sat behind my desk in my room, where everything was ready in the desired setting because I have been working from home for more than two years now. At lunch, I greeted my housemates, with whom I have lived together for five years. In the evening we all watched a movie and I went to bed. On weekend I went for a walk through the park, where I literally saw no-one. I called a friend, who lives abroad, talked to my roommates, and went to my room to draw. That night I thought about my week. I had not felt alone, I had plenty of food at home, my work continued, as usual, I felt happy, not anxious at all! Nothing had changed.
‘Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Have I read everything correctly?’
I started to doubt myself. I went through the guidelines again.
‘I did everything that was needed without altering anything. Is this normal? Is my normal life…. Quarantine?’ It kept me up all night.
‘Is my world so small? Is it strange that I am at home so much? Am I weird? What is wrong with me?’
The next morning, I called my dad. ‘Am I weird?’ I asked him while crying and he came with some needed clarity. This is what he said:
‘We are all different. Everyone experiences life in a different way, so no, you are not weird. What I think you are, is introvert. You need lots of time on your own, you like reading and staying home, you like one-on-one conversations and everything in groups drains your energy. And you have adjusted to that. That is all.’
A relief it was. He was right. This situation is different for everyone. I indeed am an introvert; I like time alone and I like staying indoors. Someone else might hate it and they might love parties, going out, traveling, and whatnot. They might find this quarantine horrible. And we are equally worthy. All this means is that we are all different. When they call your normal lifestyle quarantine… well, then nothing. It is all okay.