I’ve fallen from grace. This quarantine has driven me so crazy. The routine. The cancellation of my senior spring. The stress. I’m worn down, and I’ve finally caved in and decided to write some kind of op-ed advice column. Yes, this is serious. As a late April Fools Day prank, Leah has allowed me, Monday Monday, to be a little basic—as a treat. Here it goes.
I’ve always hated walking my dogs with my mom. To me, the walks are meant to be missions, always with the same two objectives—to finish our 2.2 mile walking loop as quickly as possible with as little conversation as possible, and to have the dogs poop. The goal is to return home to reunite with my precious screens (read as Gollum) ASAP. My mom’s objectives are different. She hopes to enjoy the walk and talk to me. How abhorrent.
To accomplish her goal, she frequently stops alongside the road during our walks. The dogs take these opportunities to sniff around a bit, and then they quickly start tugging on their leashes. Despite the pull of the leash against her arm, my mom stays standing in those spots. Because this is an anonymous column, I’ll tell you the illicit, secret tool she uses to stand still—garden shears. With those shears, she steals any flowers that catch her eye from our neighbors’ driveways. By the end of the walk, she’ll have collected a vase-worth of flowers, which she shoves in my face to smell and hopefully admire as much as she does. I have asthma and a bad pollen allergy by the way, which makes it hard for me to enjoy the smell of the flowers. And by the end, I swear she must be having the dogs drag her along this walk because 2.2 miles somehow turns into a full hour and a half. Google Maps estimates this walk to take less than half of that, and they built their estimated walking algorithm from a laboratory study on the walking speeds of snails.
I hate walks with my mom because I’m always desperate to get to the next place—my friend’s house, my homework, my bed. At this very moment, I’m in quarantine, and I have nowhere to go—my friends are quarantined, my classes are pass/fail and I’m already in my bed (I’m almost always in my bed now). Suddenly, I want to go for a walk, and I want to enjoy it.
As Duke students, it can be hard to stop what we’re doing and take even a moment to ourselves. Duke is hectic. We have classwork, but on top of that we have a million other expectations and obligations from ourselves and from our peers—from social obligations to clubs to jobs. The biggest expectations I’ve struggled with here are the social ones. FOMO is the worst. From Instagram and Snapchat, I saw people hanging with friends seemingly perpetually. Before coming to Duke, I’d never even thought of asking someone to study with me. Only recently did I realize that I’m definitely introverted and just don’t crave that much social interaction, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I didn’t measure up socially, or even worse, comedically. Everyone at Duke was funny. Duke often made me feel small. There’s a quote that I like from Luke Farrell’s Department Of Interview last year. Department Of asks him, “Fill in the blank: You know you’re a Duke student if...”
He responds, “Uh, um, you pretend to be an extrovert.” That’s when it clicked. So many people are putting on an act. We hype ourselves up or pretend to be something that we’re not to one up each other and that hides other forms of Duke experiences. Now, we get a break from all that. This is the one semester that we all get to be at Duke away from Duke, and I’m kind of liking it. For me, it’s been a chance to slow down and appreciate things. I also can’t get FOMO if no one is legally allowed to hang out with other people. It’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve been taking this time to reflect on my experience at Duke and to enjoy the moments I have in quarantine. The future is uncertain, so I’m not rushing to go anywhere or one-up anyone; I’m just taking everything one step at a time. We should be more like this at Duke too, but now, for those who have the opportunity, we should enjoy this time especially. We can take a moment away from one-upsmanship. We can take a moment to be quiet and reflect. We can listen to the sound of our own breath and remind us that we are alive in this moment and not to worry about the next moment or someone else’s better moment. We can take a moment to stop and smell the roses, even if it makes us sneeze.
Monday Monday is allergic to sincerity, so their hives right now are near-fatal.