Zoom In, Zoom Out | By Orchid Chen

Zoom In, Zoom Out | By Orchid Chen

This is the second post of a guest series with friends of hijulez

Right now, we all have different situations so we can learn a lot from our friends. Today we are sharing a post from Orchid!

A little bit about Orchid:

I got the great fortune of meeting Orchid this past fall, thanks to knowing her younger sister, Jade. Orchid came into my life like a blossoming flower of knowledge and ideas. She is a beautiful human who lights up the room. You feel her vast wisdom when you're with her. I haven't know her for that long on the scheme of things but it feels like I've known her since childhood.



Zoom In, Zoom Out

By: Orchid Chen

Written in April 2020.

When you have nothing but time, it feels like a risk, a loss. When the time is chosen by you, it’s acceptable. But when the time is force fed to you, it’s torture, isn’t it?


I’ve practiced the art of self-isolation for a while. Since September 2019, to be exact, when I left a 9 to 5 career path forever. I will return to structure, but I needed time with no determined ending for a while to study new things and unlearn thought patterns tied to a career I was leaving. At first it was awful. I was reminded daily by my boyfriend, who I live with, almost every day, that I was “supposed to be lazy and liking it" while I stacked up freelance opportunities and coursework.

This changed my perspective a lot. Rather than seeing idle time as aimlessness, I realized that the purpose of taking a sabbatical and thinking things through was to rest and think things through

You are supposed to be at home and loving it.  

I have heard different stories. If working from home, there is an oppressive feeling of not being able to get away from work. If working less, there's a feeling of not being able to pay the bills. If in the midst of a transition or in school, there's too much free time and a feeling of loss. 



Having an accountability partner for your “forced time off” is the key to a temporary rhythm. It might be a rhythm that you come to love. I became delighted when my boyfriend was forced to work from home. I instantly felt guilt for being happy during a global pandemic, but no amount of guilt took away the daily joy of waking up together and creating work from home “office drama” because it’s great to be with your partner but it’s normal to be annoyed too.

Finding positive companionship is very important. They say what we might miss most, is those random interactions with strangers. Freelance life showed me that I am in a situation where I should put in more effort to make those random interactions happen. Such as...


Dancing ballet on Saturday morning with ballet masters from dance companies around the world, and trying my best to keep up (but I can keep my video off!). Zoom ballet stretch class on Sundays with Suzanne Oulette, who taught me up until I was 11 years old. No MSG from-scratch chicken broth with fresh noodles for lunch. Sleeping in, watering the plants, planting green onions and watching them grow. Beers on Thursday afternoons, alone or during a video happy hour.

Joined a hackathon for imagining solutions to COVID-19 and made some altruistic friends in different time zones. Left my name on a “Free services for small businesses” Airtable doc and met 3 entrepreneurs planning to step up their offerings. 

Planted some green onion scraps.


Calling my grandmother in Taiwan and talked about everything from fruits, to TV, to my cousin’s 14-day quarantine, to plant care. Talked to an old friend I hadn’t really spoken to in 6 years for 2 hours in the middle of the day. Scrolling through a dozen daily messages on a Digital Interface Designer Slack community for Europe, US, and Canada.


If you’re like me— not working in healthcare, from home, or in essential services— and you feel very out of place, try scheduling at least 2 video calls this week. 

Challenge your friend to countering couch potato syndrome. I challenged someone I just met to become a “beach goddess” by summer. We started pushing each other to do push-ups every day, and have a high-intensity interval training group chat.

If you're unemployed, the fear is that less jobs are being posted. But fewer people are applying as well, some results have shown. Now is a good time to teach yourself new digital skills. If you've been working on your health, start eating nutritiously at home, or go on a diet. Start a project that you always wanted to do. Buy resistance bands and work out even though gyms are closed.


Many online courses have launched discount codes offering entire programs for free during this shutdown. 

Udemy: Free online tech skills

Virtual Dance Lab: By-donation dance classes

Down Dog: Customizable length yoga companion app!

Coursera: Free university lectures


It’s a new way of life, and I know you didn’t choose it like I did. Still, I hope my little bit of experience, can help you.

Find out what’s been missing in your life before all this. 

Focus on it, with all your heart. 

P.S. There's a great app, called Fabulous, that I think you should try. Find it here.


Stay strong, stay safe, and protect the strangers around you by self-isolating! Love, Julez.

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