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Living alone during the coronavirus pandemic

A KARE 11 digital producer shares her experience riding out the coronavirus pandemic while living alone.
Credit: Stephen Wozny (13News Now)
A woman walks alone on the beach in Sandbridge in Virginia Beach, Virginia on March 30, 2020.

MINNEAPOLIS — I’ve always been a homebody.

I would describe myself as 60% introvert, 40% extrovert.

I’ve always valued and enjoyed my alone time, and in college I even wrote about how much I loved staying in with my Netflix and sweats while my friends went out. Today, that’s still mostly true.

So, when the possibility of being quarantined for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic became more of a reality, I thought I'd be perfectly suited to handle it.

In a lot of ways, I am. But since I started working from home in March, I learned it's tougher than I expected.

I live alone. Completely alone. No roommates, and my apartment doesn't allow pets. I don't even have any living plants, because I killed the last three.

I’ve realized that the main reason living alone never bothered me pre-quarantine was I actually left my house to go to work. Which sounds completely obvious, I know. But having that balance of talking all morning with my coworkers – about work, our personal lives, The Bachelor and Love is Blind, etc. – then coming home to a quiet space, was the exact balance I personally need and enjoy. Time with people, then time alone. These days, I only really have to talk when we’re on our Skype and Zoom calls 2-3 times each morning. In theory, I could go the rest of the day without saying a word.

Now I will say, it feels annoying and even a little selfish to write this, because for all intents and purposes I have a cushy situation. I still have my job. No roommates means I have a virtually sterile apartment and never have to worry about someone bringing in germs. I have WIFI and a TV and all the same amenities I had three months ago. But still, I’m alone.

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It’s a lot of emotion to process all at the same time. You can’t help but pity yourself for being alone. Then you feel bad about feeling bad for yourself because people are getting sick and dying. You’re sad and overwhelmed and frustrated, because people are getting sick and dying. You’re willing and more than happy to stay home, because you know that by doing so, you’re protecting yourself and the most vulnerable people in your community.

So some days, it’s not too bad. Other days, all I want to do is go to Home Goods to smell the candles and buy throw pillows I don't need. But I can’t, because coronavirus. And it’s extremely frustrating. And then again, I feel bad for getting so upset over the trivial act of not being able to go to the store, because people have lost their jobs, their health insurance and in the worst cases, their family members and lives.

I also miss my family, who all live in Pennsylvania and are quarantined together, and wish I could go home to stay with them. In theory I could, but it still feels risky to get on a plane and travel through two airports, potentially picking something up and bringing it into the house. So for now, I’m staying put in my bubble.

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Us solo-quarantine warriors have to get extra creative with ways to pass the time. I’ve been reading a lot and watching even more Netflix than I used to. I also got Hulu, because desperate times, people! And because everyone asks, no… I didn’t get the ad-free version. I try to work out a couple days a week and go on walks around my neighborhood. I occasionally cook and bake, and do a lot of Sudoku puzzles. And when I say a lot, I mean I’m almost through a book of 500.

I talk to my parents on FaceTime almost every day, and chat with friends on Zoom. A few weeks ago I even drove to some of my fellow Sunrisers' houses to drop off treats and say hi. We’re all finding ways to stay connected while staying apart, and living alone just means you have to work a little harder.

My heart truly goes out to everyone who’s suffering right now. Like I said, it’s not lost on me that I’m in a very privileged situation despite everything. Some of you reading this might be out of a job, or worried about how you’re going to keep your small business afloat. And some of you might have kids you’re trying to keep busy and focused on school work while working from home yourself. Trust me, I know I don’t have it the worst.

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The point is, I empathize with everyone out there who’s riding this thing out without anyone else. I especially feel for the people who live far from family and don’t have that support system close by. This isn't a pity party. It's just one person's experience that maybe someone else can relate to.

I look at it this way: the best thing I can do to try and stop this pandemic is exactly what I’m doing, staying home. I’m not a doctor or nurse. Even though my job is deemed essential, I’m not on the front lines fighting this virus. Staying put and keeping my distance is what I can do to help.

And my colleagues and I at KARE 11 are working extremely hard to get you the information you need right now to keep your family safe and healthy. We want you to have the facts, not fear. We’re also sharing all of the good that’s happening in our communities. If there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s that in times like this, people step up and do amazing things.

Finally, a shameless plug! You can get the latest coronavirus updates and feel-good stories sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what companies in Minnesota are hiring. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.