How to still be Happy? – Ipek Topalkara

How to still be Happy?

I think it would be much better to go back and take a look at how the whole period of quarantine and pandemic has progressed from the beginning. I had many stages of my own way of coping with all of the unexpected and rather strange events that have occurred in these two months and five days. I am almost at a state of counting the exact hours, minutes, and seconds since it began… No, not really, at least not since the last 3 to 4 weeks, or shall I say: 25 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes. Sorry for the inaccuracy of the measurements of the seconds as they are a bit too fast to count. Enough jokes about time and how it went by, now I would like to talk a bit about how I made everything more enjoyable for myself

I remember quite precisely the week just before it all started. I was at school and I was feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed to say the least with the whole workload. I remember thinking: “if only they could just give us a one week break from school, so that I can use that time to catch up with school”. Yeah, a rather weird dream to say the least, but that was what I needed at the time. It was precisely March 11th. One day later I got the same notification as you all did, info@tue an update about the Corona policy (that was before the rebranding). Another day another e-mail, new measures, and increasingly tighter policies. I remember on March 14th, still not fully aware about how serious everything is about to become, sitting at a restaurant, eating, enjoying, seeing other people walk around doing the same. I was also texting with my best friend, who is also doing a master’s in architecture but in KU Leuven. She told me how all the service sector is completely down in Belgium, in fact how everyone threw a final party in all of the bars as a farewell to their lives before it all comes full force. I remember laughing, rather ironically, and sending her a photo of my surroundings; the previously mentioned people continuing their lives as it is. At the time she was trying to book a ticket to go back to Turkey, there were only 4 cases. Then Sunday came, as it was proceeding much like any other Sunday, I saw on twitter that in about 2 hours they will completely close all the service sector establishments except for pharmacies and supermarkets. That meant everything was going to be gone for a while, people were almost raiding supermarkets out of fear of not being able to find food. Another thing that came with it, for my life at least, was that now I had to cook at least 3 meals a day. Do not get me wrong, I love cooking and trying new recipes, but there is just that thing about doing something because you want to and doing it because you must. It took some getting used to. They say it takes about 21 days to form and break a habit. I taught myself how to enjoy cooking as it was inevitable.

Much like any other things that I had to change about my life in these times, I also have a new routine now. Slowly moving on from my old habits and day-to-day planning. Feeling the need to be surrounded by more people less every day. I realized that productivity helps a lot, especially in a time like this. I make sure never spend too much time in my pajamas now, I still have my 7 am “time to wake up for school” active, I always get dressed for breakfast, I study and keep in touch with loved ones. I am also trying to work out on a regular basis. I also have a secret guilty pleasure which is re-watching shows and movies that I know for sure that I enjoyed. It’s a full proof tactic as I know for a fact that I will have fun and it will make me happy. In the end that’s all that matters. This is how I have managed to keep myself afloat among all of the things that are happening around me, not to sound like a cheesy life-coach, but I hope you can also try some of these to make yourselves feel better and to hold on to the memories of more normal times. For one, you can start by changing out of your pajamas, because it’s a new day, and drop your phone to the side, after you find a new recipe to try and make yourself feel happier.

Ipek Topalkara