Stuck in the same small bedroom, the same bleak corridors, and the same shared spaces, it’s safe to say that a lot of us are unhappy and anxious in quarantine. When we left for spring break most of us were celebrating being out of school, while now we wish desperately we could go back. Whether introvert or extrovert, homebody or socialite, everyone I’ve spoken to has been struggling in some way — myself included.
As an extrovert, quarantine has been a challenge to say the least. And though I’m lucky enough to be safely at home with family, being home has forced me into an environment vastly different from Swarthmore. Being isolated has brought with it not only loneliness, but also difficult mental challenges, which only serve to heighten my feelings of isolation. After all, when stuck in the same place day after day, it’s hard to remember that we’re not alone in our struggles.
So where do we turn? I wish I knew the answer. But as someone fueled by social interaction, by my friends, and by conversation, I started by reminding myself I still had a community. A community of friends and a community filled with love. Looking towards that community I was reminded that, even when stuck in quarantine, we have so much to offer. And while I’m no artistic prodigy, I looked towards the one thing that was always with me: music. And it’s no exaggeration to say music has been the one thing keeping me sane.
Music has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember, a sentiment which I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling. And, though I have been singing and writing music since I was nine, I have always been terrified of putting my music out there. I’m still terrified. But, in an effort to make the most of these months stuck inside, I decided to face my fears and focus on my music.
Over the past month, I’ve finally put myself and my music out there. I’ve covered new songs every week, written new music, and produced two new singles, which I will be releasing over the next two weeks. And while I’m proud of those accomplishments, the best part of putting my music out there has been the community I’ve found. Creating music has brought me closer to friends I already had and connected me with new ones. Connecting with other musicians over our shared love of creating has allowed me to escape the situation we’re all stuck in, if only for an hour or two, and focus on the happiness I get when singing or writing music.
Spending more time on my music has also helped me tap into a more vulnerable part of myself. Many of the songs I’ve covered have resonated with me emotionally and allowed me to connect with a part of myself that I simply did not have time for at school. After covering H.E.R.’s “My Song” I experienced a catharsis of sorts, overjoyed that I could perform a song that had such deep meaning to me. My own music, too, is deeply emotional and personal, which is why I’ve always hesitated to release it. But, part of my love for music comes from the interaction of the audience with the performer. My ultimate goal is for my music and my performances to make people feel something, just as music makes me feel so many things.
I’m not saying that quarantine is the “opportunity” we’ve all been waiting for to focus on our passions. I’m not saying it’s a “gift” in disguise, and I’m not saying we should be “grateful” for this time. Because saying that is naive, blind, and just wrong. What I’m saying is that I am trying to use this time to look around at my life and acknowledge the big and the little things that are so easy to look past. Like my love for music, performing and writing, which I’ve neglected out of fear; fear that I would fail, fear that it was the unsafe career choice, and fear that I wasn’t good enough. I still fear those things, but I’m challenging myself to push aside those fears and make music anyway.
So, I acknowledge my fear of putting music into the world because it’s the “unsafe” career choice. I acknowledge my friends and family. I acknowledge that I would be nowhere without them. I acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have the support system I do.
These are my acknowledgements, and they have pushed me to appreciate how lucky I am and to do something about it. They have pushed me to create, to release covers and to release my own music. And they have given me purpose in this incredibly difficult and trying time.
You can find Veronica on Youtube by searching her full name (Veronica Yabloko) or on Instagram @veetheapple. To find out more about when Veronica will be releasing her singles, check out her Instagram or Facebook page.