First stay-at-home versus now

The so-called aesthetic of the first stay-at-home differs greatly from the piling stress levels of the current time period


Benti Kaur / Talon

Artwork by Benti Kaur

Teens living in modern-day America always reflect back on history, thinking “I wish I lived in the 80s or the 90s” because of the aesthetic of the era. Glancing into future generations, we can only imagine that kids will look back and wish that they lived during the “aesthetic” of the global pandemic.

The first stay-at-home had a new and exciting feeling to it, to the point of some people recalling this time to be one of the highs of their life — although this nearly year-long pandemic has not had the same aesthetic and “good vibes” throughout its entire duration. For many teenagers, trends were exciting, family time was increased and stress levels concerning school were the least of most students’ problems.

Primarily created through the social media app TikTok, the trends during this time period defined the first stay-at-home. The snacks, such as whipped coffee and mini pancake cereal had their recipes spread across the app and dispersed throughout Gen Z. Everyone throughout social media encouraged one another to watch the reality show “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” and the adventure show “Outer Banks.” Because of the stay-at-home physically separating everyone, many watched these shows and movies together on Netflix Party.

While some were busy making all of these unhealthy foods, Chloe Ting inspired the world to start her workouts through her YouTube channel. Increased family time included countless weeks of board games and evening family walks. When people were not spending time with their families, they were glued to watching TikTok videos, learning dances to “Supalonely” by Benee and “Say So” by Doja Cat.

These times of relaxation and fun trends did not last forever, as much changed over the summer with school and work load. Many people have reflected in hindsight on their nostalgia over the first stay-at-home.

“Anyone else miss the first lockdown? Waking up at 7 a.m. playing Animal Crossing, trading turnips and eating a fruit bowl in my garden under the sun with my whipped coffee. Now I sleep at 4 a.m.. Wake up at 1 p.m.. Three hours of sunlight and piles of class work,” said Sameer Mahan, a creator on TikTok.

In March 2020, the quick transition to online school inhibited proper planning for teachers, making schools formatted in a very unorganized manner. Students had much more freedom while teachers struggled to make the transition to online learning.

“We got out March 13, and that following week there were a series of meetings with admin from the district level to the high school level, of what are we going to do and how long is this going to be?” AP/Honors Biology teacher and Head of the Science Department Winnie Sloan said.

The disruptions to normal school life was difficult for teachers in all senses. Several teachers, unlike Sloan, were technologically inexperienced and found it difficult to transition to an online classroom. Sloan did clarify, however, that the biggest challenge was connecting with students.

“It was important that we made connections with our kids, that was our primary goal … Most importantly, I am worried about the social and emotional well-being of the kid. Whatever the kid is, and how they’re feeling about themselves is way more important than any other academics that I am going to ever teach them anyways,” Sloan said.

Later, the lack of student-teacher connection was difficult for students and teachers alike. The fun and easygoing nature of school had been seemingly eliminated, and had been replaced with piles of work and stress.

Students from across the country have shared the mentality that the nature of school in March of 2020, when things were just getting started, differ greatly from the current status of schools. Most students agree that stress levels have increased, and motivation is lacking.

“It was very independent, I feel like I could construct my own schedule around our school in March of 2020. And now, I get that teachers are trying to do their best, but I feel kind of constrained,” junior Shreya Maddhali said.

According to Maddhali, the shorter class periods, independent work time and ability to have a loose schedule are what is missing from the current school curriculum.

“I just don’t think we learn as much in a two hour lecture. It’s just not as interactive.”

Students are attempting to create their own routines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues forward, however the sense of nostalgia from the first stay-at-home is resurfacing as an entire year in quarantine comes to a close. Kids have referred to the infamous day of March 13th as the “Coronaversary” while we reflect on what we were doing one year ago from the current time period.