Quarantine is a completely new ball game

November 21, 2020 — by Rohan Kumar

When quarantine started last spring, I did not expect to become a YouTuber (or at least a very minor league version of one).

I’m now making $100 a month by goofing around with math and coding on my channel, called Cararra. I started my channel during the summer before junior year, but I could not monetize my videos until I reached 1,000 subscribers three months after quarantine began. I still earn 20% of the minimum wage in California, but it’s a start.

2020 has been a crazy year, and what’s funny is that finally monetizing recordings of me acting uncharacteristically hyper was not even the craziest part. Quarantine decimated the routine I had been building up since ninth grade, but that very break in routine was a blessing in disguise. And no, not just because I got to binge-watch Cody Ko.

Before quarantine, I thought I had things mildly figured out. On a typical Red Day, I would fumble for my alarm at 7:15 a.m., stumble into the shower, magically wake up during my first period class, drive home, eat too many chips, finish my homework and sleep.

I also kept a long list of items to do each day after I got home. After I finished my “Beloved” essay for English, I jumped into physics homework. I quickly prepared for any club meetings I had the next day, then used whatever time was left over to record videos or study for the science competitions I participated in. If I was lucky, I could squeeze in a bit of John Oliver or Pewdiepie, depending on how mature I was feeling.

The routine worked pretty well: I was able to finish everything I needed to, albeit barely. But hey, barely is the only way to get through junior year. 

At least it was until March. Suddenly, I had so much time my routine was not only unnecessary, but also limiting. When I finished everything on my todo list, I had no idea what to do. 

There was no “Beloved” essay to work on, no physics homework to complete. I didn't even have to prepare for clubs since all the meetings were canceled. So, I did what any self-respecting high schooler would do: I watched hours and hours of YouTube.

Of course, watching YouTube got old quick. Instead of just doing the bare minimum to satisfy my commitments until the next day and watching videos for the rest of the day, I now had to find pursuits that I actually enjoyed.

Being forced to think every day “What would I like to do more of?” allowed me to discover the things I liked way faster than I had ever imagined possible. I realized I liked reading science articles and going down Wikipedia rabbit holes, though my browser did not appreciate the dozens of tabs I opened as I read about electrons. I found out that I actually liked making art now that I had the time for it, somehow drawing up (pun intended) the resolve to make it through Inktober, a challenge where I had to create sketches for daily prompts throughout October.

I discovered that I enjoyed doing puzzles and brain teasers and started doing more math and programming challenges. I even tried out hacking competitions called Capture The Flags, but I’m unfortunately not yet qualified to hack into my friends’ League accounts. I might have been able to if they had told me their passwords, but, being the bad friends they are, they did not.

However, the most important thing quarantine has allowed me to do is grow my YouTube channel, which I originally started to help people with math and science olympiads.

While school was still in person, I would only get home at 4 p.m. I was always exhausted, and whenever I recorded my videos, I would just try to get them over with as fast as possible.

Yet with more time on my hands and more flexibility for when I could record, I was able to take the time to watch my videos and improve my presentation style. I quickly went from explaining algorithms in an incoherent mutter to hysterically laughing at myself on camera when I failed to draw a geometry diagram for the third time. I even started diversifying, making AP crash courses and some cringe Minecraft gameplay videos.

At the beginning of June, I finally reached the magic 1,000 subscribers, and I now have around 2,000. College apps have forced me to cut down on video-making temporarily, but I still have time to get out two videos each week.

At the start of junior year, it felt as if I was mindlessly hitting ball after ball down the field. Math homework, a double. Chemistry homework, a single. Twenty text-heavy pages of APUSH reading, a home run. And it was already time to sleep. I didn’t get any strikes, but I also never got a timeout.

During quarantine, I finally got the break I needed: instead of struggling to meet my commitments, I had time to not only relax, but also try out new things and spend more time on activities I enjoy. Whether by recording more entertaining Minecraft videos or reading about Hector and Achilles duking it out in the Trojan War, I can now escape the monotony of my pre-quarantine life. I can finally put down my bat and throw some curveballs of my own.