Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Things I've Learned during Quarantine 2020

On March 14, 2020, the president ordered a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Forced to cancel were flights from Manila. Unfortunately, I was one of the locally stranded individuals. I initially thought that this lockdown would only last for a month. Little did I know that we'd still be experiencing the same restrictions up to this date. As air traffic controllers, we still had a lot to do, even if only a few flights were flying in our designated airspaces, and the radar scope was almost empty. 

Today, there are still cargo and rescue flights flying to key domestic destinations of the country. While there's little that we can do about the global pandemic, here are the things I did during community quarantine.

1) I try to be productive.

Since the administration changed our work schedule, we now have more days-off than we used to. During the first two weeks of quarantine, I spent my days off by just lying in bed the entire day, binge-watching Crash Landing On You, Hi, Bye Mama, and other trending shows on Netflix. Three weeks into quarantine, I felt unproductive, and my mood has been at an all-time low. I told myself that I should do some activities that would surely make me productive. I tried the home workout routine since gyms were closed, but it doesn't work for me at all. I can't workout inside the home because there were so many distractions. 

I thought I was going to be crazy, so I took out my journal and wrote all of the things that I wanted to accomplish. And there it was–a plethora of personal projects that I haven't done since last year. Read at least two books per month, learn new techniques in vlog editing, perform some crazy dance moves at TikTok, edit my unfinished projects on Final Cut Pro, and create a podcast channel. So far, I've done most of it. I know that we have our ways to cope with this situation, and this is how I roll. Pro tip: Write something in your journal and reevaluate what your mind wants. 

2) I try to get out of my comfort zone.

Since I have the time for myself, I do want to try new things that scare me. I easily get terrified every time I speak in front of a crowd, whether if it's in person or online meetings. It can be overwhelming most of the time. This year, a good friend of mine who's also a pilot invited me for a zoom session. My task was to talk about the life of an air traffic controller, and that includes what it takes to become one, and debunking myths about my work. I was very much willing to share and inform them, especially about the misconception of my job, but at the back of my mind, I was scared.

I don't know what's with the quarantine season, but I told myself that this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime, and I might not catch another one sooner. The first five minutes were scary because I was so conscious of everything. But, I took a deep breath and just be myself. I let go of my inhibitions, and I've never felt better than before. It took me time to adjust, but I guess this is just the start of something new! After that, I get invited to more speaking engagements online. 

Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

3) Relive the moments.

This year, leisure traveling isn't allowed. As a traveler, it was hard to accept that I won't be able to travel to my favorite places around the world, probably until the end of 2021, subject to the vaccine's availability. But then again, health is wealth, so I am willing to sacrifice that. Today, I had the chance to browse my travel photos back in 2014. Then, I started to write stories about my experience by just looking at my photo archives. 

I don't know but, I still have a lot of untold stories waiting to be published. More so, this is also a form of a writing exercise. Through this, my writing skills won't get rusty. For now, I still have tons of untold stories, so you better watch out for those.

4) Be forever grateful.

The quarantine season had taught me a lot of life lessons. Firstly, the value of family and friendship. I thought I was all alone because I can't just go home. It took me seven months before I was able to fly home back to Davao. Throughout the seven months, there are a few people whom I've talked with online, which kept me sane. They always ask about my well-being, and they remind me to be careful, practice social distancing, and other health protocols. I'm this type of person who's not sentimental, but the fact that I wasn't able to meet up with my family and friends for long periods somehow made me fragile. 

There are days when I feel sad and lonely. There are days that I want to cry because I thought I was in a dire and desperate situation. I told myself to always look at the brighter side, no matter how hard it'll get. Thank God for fast internet and technology, I was able to communicate with my loved ones online. Lastly, there are still a lot of things why I should be grateful. My family and friends are all healthy and safe from harm, I still have a job with absolutely no pay-cut (some of my friends in the airline industry have lost their jobs right in the middle of the pandemic), and I am still able to afford to buy things that aren't important.

These are just some of the things I've learned during the quarantine. I can't wait for the day when we can freely roam around with no restrictions. I miss those days when we can just hop on the plane and visit new places. For now, let us all observe physical distancing, wear your mask and face shields when going out, and please, stay at home if you can.

** This is an official entry to the Davao Bloggers Blog Caravan for October 2020 with the theme "Quarantine Lessons." 

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