Happy Couple

20 Lessons from Quarantine

Maybe what defines a life, in the end, is how much of your experience you would change if you could. I asked fifteen friends what one piece of advice they would have given their pre-pandemic-selves if they could. I also found four of my favorite quotes by strangers. These are their words. 

  1. “Find a way to control anxiety about the things you cannot control.” (Aimee, Valley Village, CA)

  2. “There is and always has been time. But you have to put in the work to make use of it. And wash your hands.” (Rick, Bath, Maine)

  3. “Don’t wait to finish making over your apartment. Just set aside one week and knock that sh-t out. And get a haircut.” (Angélica, West Hollywood, CA)

  4. “I really should’ve spent every weekend looking at art.” (Barbie, West Hollywood, CA)

  5. “Find open space.” (Donovan, Santa Barbara, CA)

  6. “You will come to truly understand the phrase, ‘One day at a time.’” (Alyson, Los Angeles, CA)

  7. “Go find a group of people you can stand being around for a while and build a commune.” (Jaime, Santa Barbara, CA)

  8. “I should have followed my instinct to learn how to propagate seeds and plant food.” (Jesse, Highland Park, CA)

  9. “I’d tell myself to invest in essential investments and trust the Government less.” (Myles, West Hollywood, CA)

  10. “Enjoy the carefree target runs; go on more dates; go to that networking mixer; put yourself out there more.” (Holly, Burbank, CA)

  11. “I’d say, literally everything is temporary, everything. Don’t hang on to the bad memories or thoughts. And say Yes more.” (Amanda, Echo Park, CA)


  12. “Wake up early, smile, and get outside, even if only for 15min!” (Rosa-Maria, San Francisco, CA)

  13. “Spending time with your son is a gift. Share your knowledge and teach this little person.” (Ryan, Northridge, CA)


  14. “Cherish your time alone, and don't sweat the small stuff. Remember to have patience with yourself and your family.” (Jenny, Northridge, CA) 

  15. “Pick just a few things to focus on. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to get done, but the reality of homeschooling my little kids and accomplishing all that wasn’t realistic. I kind of over committed to things and then had to flake on a lot of it. I did build a b-tchin' fort and did a lot of recording though.” (Sam, Eagle Rock,CA)


  16. “The purpose of a relationship is not to be loved perfectly, or forever. … It is not to be completed. … The purpose of a relationship is to see ourselves completely. It is to see the parts of ourselves that we are otherwise unconscious of. … We choose to love these people because they are the only ones with whom we share an intimate connection deep enough that it can awake and illuminate the darkest corners of ourselves. … Our life partners are the people whoc ome after the love that opens us. … They come after we’re ready.” (Brianna Wiest, author of 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think)

  17. “We tell ourselves stories about who we are and what we deserve and what the events in our lives mean. And we assume there is a period when really, quite often, there is actually a comma.” (Nadia Bolz-Weber, host and creator of podcast The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber)

  18. “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.” (Brené Brown, author of Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

  19. “The answer is always there. But there’s no big arrow over it. You need to be able to pick it out amidst the noise of life’s chaos and idiots.” (Unknown)

  20. “Start gardening. (Trust me – just do it. I don’t even care whether or not you like gardening.) There is medicine in nurturing something. There is medicine in the dirt, and in the sun, and in watching a thing live because you helped it to.” (Ariel, Los Angeles, CA)  

(Photo by Zackary Drucker for The Gender Spectrum Collection)