Quarantine leads to self discovery

The pandemic has changed all of our lives. We have all struggled in ways we might have never imagined. But there is always a silver lining. Some have made incredible self discoveries, and all this free time has given them the opportunity to go soul searching. 

Junior Jessie Jerome explains that they have struggled with mental illnesses all of their life, and were worried about quarantine affecting their mental health negatively.  

NEW FOUND CONFIDENCE: Jerome explains that you can tell there confidence increased by looking at there clothing, and how they carry themselves. Jerome now has the confidence to wear what makes them happy, and wear things that expresses there feelings. “Quarantines started, and I started to get politically informed, I came to realize that oh, this is really cool subculture (Punk Culture). I like their clothing. I like their music. And so I started to integrate and educate myself in that…It’s given me a lot more confidence.” Jerome says.

“The beginning (of quarantine) for me was a lot like my summers because my summers are when I get these pretty bad episodes. I have a lot of different mental illnesses and because I don’t go to school,  I don’t do anything. And so over the summer I was doing the same thing, laying in bed all day,” Jerome said.

But then Jerome started to read more stories on the news, becoming more aware and forming their own political ideology.  Jerome grew interested in punk culture when they realized that a band they liked called AJJ was a folk-punk band. 

Through TikTok Jerome met older punk fans and learned about the activism behind punk culture and its history.

“A lot of punks are anarchists. We don’t want to put our money into these corporations. So you make everything yourself or you buy from other punks,” Jerome said.

Jerome began making their own clothes too and face masks out of balaclavas.

Jerome’s confidence increased as their interest in this newfound hobby and community developed. From there their mental health improved.

Jerome’s confidence increased as their interest in this newfound hobby and community developed. From there their mental health improved.

NEW HOBBIES:  When Punk Culture was introduced to Jerome they were inspired to make whole head masks. “I just took spare pieces of an old blouse and I just basically made a sack and then cut out eye holes. There literally full head masks, there fun to make, but they are really creepy”. Jerome says.

“I started on my patch pants, which are a thing in punk culture, where you put a bunch of band patches, shoes, political patches, or just stuff on your pants.” Jerome said. 

“I used to be so shy. I wouldn’t even think about wearing anything that I wear, you know, in public, but now I just go walk in and go hang out.  I didn’t really have a fashion sense or a sense of self, but now it’s given me a community. It’s given me a lot,” Jerome said. 

Like Jerome, Junior Melisa Ortega-Carrillo also used all this time to her advantage. She explains that she felt broken at the beginning of quarantine, lacking motivation. 

“I used to be really insecure about myself. Like, one of my biggest insecurities was my body because when I went to depression, I got so skinny. I thought it was normal,” Ortega-Carrillo said. 

While quarantining she started to evaluate herself. Ortega-Carrillo realized that being unhappy and discontent was not normal and that she needed to heal. She embarked on a spiritual journey and created a garden filled with spiritual healing crystals. 

“Crystals represent different things. For example rose quartz can represent affection and love. I remember when I bought it the lady told me ‘it’s a very powerful energy and it removes toxins from your life,’” Ortega-Carrillo said.

She set up a little garden filled with items that reminded her of her healing process, decorating it with crystals, buddha statues and plants. She started meditating, and slowly but surely she regained herself. 

REMOVING TOXIC ENERGY: Ortega-Carrilo wears crystals and rings to remove toxic energy from her daily life. “I feel everybody copes differently and everybody has different beliefs and I am a person who has been through a lot, Crystals have healing properties which heal you and help you understand yourself in a better form.” Ortega- Carrilo says.

“I feel like it  just started to drain that negativity away from me when I would meditate and I would manifest things for myself. And it felt like relief. It’s like if you have ever wanted to tell a secret and when you finally tell it your chest just feels lightweight,” Ortega-Carrillo said.

TRANSFORMATIONS: To the left is a picture of Ortega-Carrilo before she started using crystals, or at the begging of quarantine, and the picture to the right was taken one month after she started  using crystals. Like Jerome, she says that not only did she go through mental changes but she also saw physical differences when she started using crystals. “Physically and Mentally my mind is now 100 out of 10. Back then is was .1 out of 10.”

When Ortega-Carrillo looks back on where she was before the pandemic, she’s grateful for the changes. 

“I probably would have still been in the most toxic part of my life. I feel like COVID did bring confidence into me. I cried right when it turned 2021 because to me 2020 was a year where it just like destroyed me mentally and physically. But it also built me up mentally and physically,” Oretga-Carrillo said.

Lilly McGreevy

Sophomore Lilly McGreevy is the Assistant Features Editor for BluePrints Magazine. She hopes to pursue a career that involves the outdoors or go into criminal law. McGreevy loves to read and plays soccer for the Lady Jags. This year, she would like to improve her interviewing skills and finish pieces in a timely manner. Her favorite aspect of journalism is that it gives her the opportunity to engage with people outside of her classes and social circles.