At Home Creativity: Sarah, Age 23

 In Voices of Young People

In response to the newfound realities of social distancing, including remote learning for students and working from home for many young professionals, Springtide™ Research Institute launched the At Home Creativity Campaign. This Spring 2020 campaign invited young people ages 13⁠ to 25 in the United States to submit creative works responding to the prompt, “How are you finding connection and meaning in these days of physical distancing?” The variety of submissions included creative writing, poetry, essays, visual art, films, original music, and photography. The top five pieces were selected by a panel of judges at Springtide and are featured in the At Home Creativity series within our Voices of Young People blog.

To launch this series, we invited our current interns at Springtide to respond to the same At Home Creativity prompt.

Here is a personal reflection from Sarah, age 23, in Minnesota:

An Extrovert at Home” 

When I thought about what my final semester in college would feel like, physical distancing, or social distancing as the government calls it, was never something I expected to encounter. I used to hang out with friends every weekend and go to church every Sunday with my family. Now just weeks away from graduation—albeit a virtual ceremony—the implications and impacts of physical distancing are often hard to accept.

Living in Minnesota means I’m currently under stay-at-home orders. This means I can’t even drive 10 minutes to go to my closest aunt and uncle’s house; my mom, dad, sister, and I are supposed to stay inside our nice, little home with my service dog and their two cats. I love my family, of course, but being around the same people 24/7 is not the easiest of situations. I definitely have been fighting with my family more, crying out of stress, and obsessing about the tiniest chance of illness. I spend hours reading about this virus and worry about all the ways it could be spread. As an extrovert, being at home and away from other people is not the best for me. When I say this, I mean I take my temperature at least three times per day and have gotten into arguments with my family when they don’t use hand sanitizer after they sneeze. I might sound like a drama queen, but now that I can’t physically go anywhere to work or see people, I recognize how much human interaction truly sustains me. 

Thankfully, after a recent argument with my dad, I came to the realization that although this new reality is called social distancing, it’s more accurate to see it as physical distancing, so I called one of my friends and talked with her about all that is going on. That really helped me to feel a lot more connected and relaxed. I am now FaceTiming, Skyping, and doing more video chats with friends and extended family, and already things are starting to brighten up. 

When I am stressing, I also pray. I didn’t do this much on my own in high school, but it seems like in this stressful and physically distanced time, turning to God and praying really helps me. I usually pray that this horrible time will end soon, and that people will stay safe. I really am praying hard for my mom and grandma to stay safe and healthy even as I write this. They are probably two of the reasons I am so obsessed with people practicing all of the CDC-recommended measures; I don’t want people like them to get sick. In addition to using prayer as a way to cope, I have family, friends, and my service dog to talk to about my worries. 

Easter was definitely one of the weirdest parts of physical distancing so far. Growing up, holidays were always spent with either extended family or close family friends. To be honest, this year didn’t really feel like Easter because we didn’t even go to church. I just moved to Minnesota this past winter, where almost all my family lives, so I was really looking forward to seeing extended family in person on Easter. However, I’m grateful video chat exists, so I still got to see some of them, Grandma included. 

Through all of this, I am finding that while I am separated from most people and simultaneously placed in tight quarters with family without a choice, I can still have a healthy relationship with them; it is these people in my life (and my dog and connection to God) who make life worth living. I may fight and argue with my companions-in-quarantine, but I love and care for them nonetheless and do not know what I would do without them, especially now. 

Sarah Ruff is a community engagement intern with Springtide and a journalism and advertising/public relations double major preparing to graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Springtide’s recent Social Distance Study found that for many young people, sheltering in place and social distancing provoke fear and uncertainty, leading to increased levels of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. This survey also found that the single most important way to mitigate loneliness is for trusted adults to reach out and connect with young people.

Although young people continue to find creative outlets even through the challenges of COVID-19, remember that our research confirms they still need trusted adults to reach out to them. Consider how you might connect to the young people in your circle of care by engaging their interests or encouraging their creative pursuits.

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