The mystery of quarantine-induced nostalgia

Zuza Filipiuk

Zuza Filipiuk discusses how quarantine has helped her rediscover her old self as she delves deep into childhood nostalgia.

From cutting your bangs, to baking, to getting baked, quarantine is bound to make us all a little crazy. Sometimes it is because we are bored to death, while other times we simply want to make the most out of this seemingly infinite period of uncertainty. I, for one, have just purchased a beautiful, broken typewriter which will hopefully encourage inspiration to come a-knocking. Next, I redecorated my room by covering an entire wall with Spanish notes while at the same time creating a concise syllabus in an attempt to finally get a solid grip of a language I started learning all the way back in high school. And just last night I busted out the ol’ reliable YouTube and started learning Charleston dance. I mean, if the 21st-century version of the roaring twenties also includes a global plague, economic crisis and the threat of international war, we might as well bring back flappers and that cool dancing style. However, apart from trying to learn new skills while locked at home, I also find myself rediscovering many of the long-abandoned childhood hobbies for which there was no place in my adult life. Well, no time like the present to give them another go.

When three weeks ago I packed my suitcase, hopped on the plane and came back home just an hour before lockdown, I had to face a somewhat depressing thought: this time I wasn’t simply coming home for vacation – I was moving in. It felt odd and draining, like taking a step back in my “lifetime plan”. As I lay in bed the first night, I couldn’t help but think that despite all the hard work towards my dreams I was back at square one. So, in order to feel more at peace with the new concept of normal, I decided to redecorate my old living space. And while I was sorting out all the things I left behind when I moved away from home almost four years ago, I staggered upon some relics of the past. My old embroidery kit, sketching notebooks, diaries I do not dare to read, entire sets of The Kane Chronicles, The Hunger Games, The Witcher, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. As I was stuck in a waist-high box, digging up sagas I once so enjoyed, I felt a strange feeling rising up in me. It was like rediscovering the past version of myself. 

Apparently, coronavirus-induced nostalgia is spreading quickly and cannot be contained. People from across the world are forced to entertain themselves with whatever they can find or do at home. This often prompts them to turn to long-abandoned hobbies which once were a major part of their lives. Pulling an all-nighter to play Fortnite, living vicariously through your Sims and watching them have a brighter future than you will ever have, rereading all of the Harry Potter books in three days, playing Animal Crossing, going back to working out as a way of dealing with all that pent-up sexual tension (although I’m not sure if the last one should be considered nostalgic), these are just a few examples of old “hobbies” that coronavirus is having us rediscover. Although such hobbies as video games or rereading old books may not seem like life-changing activities, there may be more to them than meets the eye. Why is it that the coronavirus pandemic and forced self-isolation is collectively driving us to take up old hobbies, for which there is no time in our fast-paced lifestyles?

Well, for one it is surely a wonderful way of dealing with stress and boredom caused by the current situation. It is also a perfect opportunity to reflect on our past, present and future; who we used to be, who we are, and who we wanted to be at this time. There is something therapeutic about giving in to nostalgia and taking up old hobbies. I might have started going through my old stuff out of boredom, yes; but I soon found myself being drawn to all of these little projects and hobbies which my nine-year-old self thought to be the most entertaining things in the world. Even the potentially useless skill of embroidery now seems like a perfect way of refreshing my wardrobe, which I can hopefully show off when all of this blows over. This skill is not only a way of reflecting back on myself, or something that may help me kill time, it also gives me something to look forward to. 


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