Mya Hauck never knew how much social interaction she needed until COVID-19 yanked the mat from under her, leaving her dazed, quarantined and sorely longing for the daily hugs from loved ones that became forbidden virtually overnight.

First came shelter-in-place orders, then the cabin fever began to creep in. The computer science senior found herself marooned in San Luis Obispo with her roommates, unable to unite with her family back in Kentucky. With a year-long lease already signed and a downtown job calling her in, Hauck had to bite the bullet and get creative quickly to overcome the chaotic hand life was dealing her. 

Like thousands of college students across the world, Hauck’s daily routine halted to a screeching stop, and she was faced with the ominous question: What do I do now? How do I care for my mental health, get enough exercise, budget my time wisely and live to the best of my ability until the storm blows over?

Like a flower blooming from concrete, Hauck has been learning how she can find ways to adapt to the challenges of an unpredictable world.

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Video by Charlotte Ross

A Q&A with Essential Worker Mya Hauk

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What does your average day in quarantine look like for you?

I’m losing steam for online classes, so an average day is pretty low functioning. I try to stay active every day. If I don’t have a 9 a.m., I will work out. It’s getting beautiful in SLO, so I’ll sit outside for a little bit. It’s kind of just a balance between me trying to stay active and me trying to do my school work even though it’s so nice out.

You’ve been going on a lot of neighborhood walks. What has that been like?

When I go on my walks, I go on a four-mile walk. It’s like an hour for me to be able to clear my head. We live in a house with a lot of people, so sometimes I need to get out and be alone. Sometimes I stop in front of my friends’ houses and wave to them from a distance. It’s nice to have social interaction with people that you’re not in a house with 24/7.

How is it not being able to hug them or talk to them in person?

I didn’t think I was a social extrovert, but after quarantine hit, I’ve kind of been realizing that I need hugs and interaction on a daily basis. I need my hugs, and it’s kind of hard just being in one house all the time.

You mentioned you’re making TikTok videos with your roommates. Has that been a fun, creative way to stay busy?

I honestly think TikTok is a really funny trend right now. We’re all so confined to tiny spaces, and this is a way that everyone can communicate with everyone else and have fun doing it. It’s a fun way to relate to people right now instead of just being sad all the time.

Tell us more about your family happy hour.

Every week, my family does happy hour from Kentucky and California. It’s funny because the time difference is so big that their happy hour at 5 p.m. is at 2 p.m. here. On those days, I usually start day drinking pretty early, just to hang out with family. It’s usually over their dinner, so I get to be a part of family dinner every week.

Have you picked up any sort of new hobbies?

In high school I did archery, so I brought my bow and arrow from where it was being kept in San Diego, then bought myself a target. I have an archery range set up in the backyard right now, but I’m not baking or anything like most people.

How has the customer interaction changed in your workplace?

I work at Cider Bar SLO, a tap wall in the creamery downtown. I think I make customer interaction more awkward than it needs to be right now. I wear a mask and gloves, but I don’t think the customers care all that much, especially because most of them are regulars who just really want their go-to drinks. I don’t think they really mind, because they know me really well and I always stay as safe as possible. But I think it’s hard for me to figure out how to act in public situations right now, especially since I’m the one behind the bar doing everything. 

Has your graduation been affected because of what’s happening?

Not really. I’m glad I’m not graduating right now, because it sounds really stressful and just a sad way to end college. I have an internship this summer that was supposed to be in the Bay that got moved remote, so that’s kind of a bummer.

That’s cool that you were able to keep your internship even if it’s just remote.

Yeah. It’s a Technical Project Management internship at a customer service company called Five9. Most companies need customer service right now more than ever. They’re getting flooded with calls, so these companies are actually thriving right now and they’re doing well remotely as a company. I was really excited to have that Bay Area computer science internship, but it is what it is.

What would you say you learned about yourself during all of this that you didn’t know before?

I guess social interaction is the biggest thing I have learned about myself. I think I need it more than I thought I did. Before this, I would have said I could stay in my room all day, every day and be fine. But now, I’m thinking differently about it. I realized I need to take things a lot slower than I have before and really appreciate the time I have to spend with my people.

Read more about Hauck and Lechner-Luke’s reporting at Behind the Story.

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