Turning 23 in Quarantine
Start writing a post

Turning 23 in Quarantine

Learning to find a small sense of normalcy in a birthday celebration in the midst of a global pandemic.

Turning 23 in Quarantine
Image by profivideos from Pixabay

I always had this feeling that twenty-three would be a strange age for me; an in-between age full of uncertainty and fear of my slowly-approaching thirties. I had no idea that it would be coupled with the fear and anxiety that is a global pandemic.

I woke on my birthday to my boyfriend wishing me a happy birthday, and groggily prepared for the day. I'd been patiently waiting a few days to open gifts I'd received from my family and friends three hours away, and decided to start the day with a bang.

My mom texted me with very detailed instructions on how to open the box, and insistence that my boyfriend needed to film the whole thing so she felt like she was there with me.

The box felt like a slice of home, complete with a piece of bread with a chunk torn out of it, three peanuts, change floating around, and a dog bone for the dog I didn't have (gag gifts that I've come to expect from my uncle and mom collaborating). My sister read my mind and sewed reusable paper towels, complete with adorable stitching, and my mom sewed cloth napkins with a beautiful maroon geometric print.

My grandpa contributed Kit Kats and ones, which he always thought I needed, in case I was starving and needed to grab something from a vending machine. My grandma sent a flash drive with old family pictures on it that I'd asked her to look for. The day was starting to feel normal.

At two o'clock, I joined the "Crushing Life and Taking Names" video chat group that my best friends and I used every week. We updated each other about our quarantine lives, discussing job interviews, grad school, life on the front lines, and fears about re-opening. My friend on the front lines, working at a hospital, was excited to share that her sister's doctor gave her the all-clear for her to go visit her baby niece for the first time ever.

Shortly after that, my best friend's mom, a.k.a. Mamason, called to say happy birthday and chat about life updates, while on the way back from picking up her daughter's belongings from her college dorm. I felt good to reconnect with her and hear a bit about what life was like on the home front.

Around four-thirty, my sister called me from her laptop for a family video call at my grandparents' house. Rogue and Molly, the family pups, were trotting around the living room, while my mom tried to connect to our call on her laptop, so she could call from the backyard deck.

I heard my grandpa talking in his outside-voice, no doubt with his hearing aids turned off, before he walked into frame in the living room. We were just about to start a family game of Mad Libs before he interrupted. I truly felt like I was there. He stared with his mouth wide open at the screen; this was his first experience ever with video chatting.

After we completed the custom-made Mad Libs that my mom wrote, we parted ways, and thanked each other for the time together.

After a busy afternoon of birthday calls and present opening, reality began to sink back in. I'd discussed with my therapist the week before about how it felt devastating to be starting back at square one again. In January, I'd moved from my home town to my college town to live with my boyfriend, and, after acquiring two jobs, had finally felt like I'd begun to get in a sort of groove. Now, with one of my jobs permanently terminated, I was back to job searching, and having to start from scratch.

It wasn't just in terms of job searching that I was starting from scratch. I'd made a decision recently that the career I'd gone to college to pursue and gotten my degree in wasn't for me. So here I was, a recent college graduate with student loans hanging over my head, receiving absolutely no government aid during the pandemic, considering going back to school. Was I crazy? Yes. Did it feel better than following a path that didn't feel right? Yes.

After a night of Italian food, video games and drinking with my boyfriend and roommates, the weight of uncertainty over my head started to feel really heavy. Starting from scratch was overwhelming. Not to mention that the performance contract back home that I was supposed to be performing in during the month of June was postponed, meaning that even if was able to get a job, I'd have to put in my two weeks eventually and leave the city for a month.

I had trouble sleeping that night. I hugged my boyfriend and our cat tight, as I waited for the next day to show its face.

Before I went to bed, I saw a post on Instagram by Carissa Potter Carlson's account @peopleiveloved that encapsulated all of the feelings I felt on my birthday in quarantine:

Carissa Potter Carlson @peopleiveloved

Despite all of the overwhelming positivity that my family and friends had showered my with that day, I'd still felt like something was off. I felt guilty for feeling upset. I felt angry that I couldn't just suck up my fears and be happy.

Seeing this post made me feel like I wasn't crazy, that what I was feeling was valid in some way, that I wasn't an inherently negative person for allowing the fear surrounding the pandemic to creep into my celebration.

My birthday twin from college messaged me after I shared Carissa Potter Carlson's post on my story and said, "Thank you. I needed to see this. Especially after the birthday celebrations are over is when it all hit's ya."

I'd already drilled similar thoughts into my head about trusting that "things would be okay," but seeing this list outlined by someone else, and reading the comments of hundreds of people feeling the same thing, made me feel a part of a strange little community.

My other birthday twin from high school celebrated her birthday in quarantine with twenty-one cards mailed from her friends, and a scavenger hunt to find them. Another one of my friends celebrated with a scavenger hunt around town and a home-cooked meal.

Whatever your birthday in quarantine may look like, know that it's okay to feel whatever you're feeling. Allow yourself time to process the thoughts you have during this crazy and unpredictable time. I'll be processing right along with you.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Freshly popped buttered popcorn in your lap and a glass full of crisp Coca-Cola is at your side. All the lights are turned off and you are tucked into a cozy blanket. You have the whole day off and no responsibilities besides refilling your popcorn bucket. Now all you have to do is decide on what movie to watch, but you know one movie will not fulfill your need of relaxing all day. A movie marathon is the only answer to your problem. In case you did not know what movie series to start with, try a few of these.

Keep Reading... Show less
A Touch Of Teal

It's the oldest story in the world: one day a new tv show comes on and you fall in love with each character and their story. In 2003, the show "One Tree Hill" was born and stole the hearts of fans of many ages. Torn between the sweet, underdog Lucas and tough, popular boy Nathan, people became hooked through the family and relationship drama the characters went through.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

12 Starbucks Iced Drinks You NEED In Your Life

Must-try beverages brought to you by your local barista.


Be kind to your baristas, they can make you some pretty great drinks. With the temperature rising and the days getting longer, it's approaching the time to find your summer staple to keep you cool (and caffeinated) over the next few months.

Keep Reading... Show less

"Keeping Up With The Kardashians" is coming to an end after 20 seasons of intense drama, family bonding, and Scott Disick. It's sad for some and a relief for others who find the show way overhyped.

Keep Reading... Show less

Starbucks is known for its infamous coffee and espresso drinks, but they're definitely isn't enough love shown for the non-coffee drinks. Being a barista myself, I've come to try all of the following drinks. And let me tell you…they're amazing. So if you aren't a huge fan of coffee or if you're just sick of the same old same old, here are some new drinks to keep your inner white girl alive and thriving.

SEE MORE: Starbucks Has Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cold Brew And OMG It Has Pink Foam

Keep Reading... Show less

What was usually buried at the bottom of my purse has now become a pocket essential — and I know I'm not alone in that.

It used to be something I'd use if I happened to be at a restaurant that ran out of soap in their bathroom, but now it's almost more essential to have on-hand at all times than my cell phone.

Keep Reading... Show less

The decision-makers of Yale's law students have invested in therapy dog sessions in order to reduce stress. In 2011, Yale Law Library had a sign-out sheet for their certified library dog. The 30-minute sessions were equipped with unconditional, stress-busting puppy love.

Law Librarian Blair Kauffman stated that the free, three-day pilot pet therapy program at Yale Law Library launched as "a positive addition to current services offered by the library."

Keep Reading... Show less

I have been working at Dunkin' Donuts for over two years, and during this time, I have progressed from regular crew member to crew coach, and finally, to shift leader. Among my great skills involving the job is my ability to deal with stressful situations, including awful customers. My boss has continuously pointed out the fact that I am able to handle these people with grace and kindness. She herself often finds that she gets snippy with rude customers, but somehow I am able to keep a straight face through these tough times.

Keep Reading... Show less

Let's be real here — sometimes essential oils and acknowledging all five senses (touch, see, hear, smell, taste) just don't cut it when you need to cope. It's those days when you have so much rage that you don't even know what to do with yourself, or those days when you physically cannot stop crying because of the most suffocating sadness, or all those other days when you are craving healthy coping mechanisms that actually work.

But before I let you in, we need to continue being real. I hope you are comforted with the knowledge that before I uncovered (or, even wanted to uncover) healthy mechanisms, I also went through my drought of horrible coping mechanisms. I have, and sometimes continue, to fall short of genuinely trying to help myself. It takes a lot of courage, and energy, to genuinely try and help yourself.

Keep Reading... Show less

How To Win 'Clue' Every Time

The strategy that (kinda) never fails.


Who doesn't love a fun, classic game of "Clue"? Whether you're a seasoned professional or just think that Professor Plum is the philosophy prof in the building across campus, you may learn something from the following trial-and-error strategy that has taken years (read: a couple of games) to perfect. Instead of partaking in an argument about how Colonel Mustard's name is pronounced, start strategizing and don't let the die determine your fate!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments