Prior to COVID-19, I cruised through life, attending classes, spending time with friends and participating in various clubs, organizations and after-school activities. Little did I know my fast-paced life would come to a halt in March 2020.
Quarantine was a difficult change, yet reconstructing life within the walls of my home opened new doors for me and my mentality. Reflecting on this past year, I’ve realized living through the pandemic has taught me new, valuable lessons about myself and the world around me that I hope to carry out in the future.
As we reach over a year of COVID-19, here are five important lessons the pandemic has taught me.
1. Humans are adaptable
Whether it be staying home 24/7 or attending virtual school, I was forced to adapt my everyday routine to fit the coronavirus times. All of a sudden, I couldn’t see my friends, engage with other students on campus, talk to my professors face-to-face or even go on a grocery store run for the longest time.
Not only did I have to adapt to a new, isolated way of life, but I also had to restructure my steps toward academic and personal success.
With a global health scare looming, I was forced to find different ways to accomplish the same goals as pre-pandemic times. Zoom took over, and I found ways to succeed personally and academically by restructuring my study habits, daily routine and moments of mental rest.
As I look back on the first few months of quarantine, this adaptability was the biggest and most unique challenge. I know I wasn’t alone. Millions of people discovered their inner adaptability, a quality they may have never known existed.
2. The little things matter
Who knew you’d miss that Starbucks coffee or those grocery runs the most?
In our hyperactive world, it’s easy to take things and moments for granted: hanging out with friends, spending time with family, going out to a restaurant, interacting with classmates and teachers.
As soon as COVID-19 cut us off from the world, these tiny nuances became ever so important. Suddenly, I found myself craving a frappuccino from Starbucks or yearning for a trip to Chick-Fil-A. Suddenly, amidst the isolation, I cherished the “hello” and “have a good day” exchanged between my neighbor and I on our daily walks.
I had always been so caught up in the grand events of life that I forgot how meaningful the small, intimate moments were too.
A year later, I now appreciate the liveliness of a fun grocery shopping trip, the joy of a lunch date with my family and the comfort in a small, friendly gesture from a neighbor or a stranger.
3. A positive perspective is powerful
The harsh reality is that life will throw us curve balls when we least expect them. A pandemic was one of them. People were faced with fears of contracting this unknown virus, of hospitalizations and of losing loved ones. People were thrown into the depths of boredom, frustration and loneliness as we navigated the uncertainty of living in quarantine.
Instead of sulking in the negatives, the situation eventually taught me to view life through a positive lens. Rather than focusing on my inability to go out and see friends, I took the opportunity to spend extra time with my family, learn to cook, exercise daily and discover new time-filling crafts.
It’s easy to complain about what you don’t have. The challenge is appreciating and working with the new and unique opportunities that you are given.
4. Kindness goes a long way
The pandemic stirred a lot of anger and frustration from within the nation, especially in terms of politics and mask mandates.
Given the immense losses and suffering our country has endured, even the smallest act of kindness goes a long way. Whether you buy someone’s coffee or lend a sympathetic hand, the only way to survive a crisis like this is to come together, help each other out and use kindness as our ultimate superpower.
Since coming out of quarantine, I have tried to find instances in which I can demonstrate dashes of kindness. I have paid for peoples’ food orders in cars behind me going through drive-thru restaurants. I struck a conversation in a convenience store with a lonely, elderly man who was just looking to show someone photos of his proud grandchildren. I’ve started donating to crises and causes occurring beyond my borders.
These small acts may seem trivial, but genuine kindness spreads from one person to another.
5. Life is not a given
If the past year has collectively taught us anything, it’s that life is not guaranteed. With over 500,000 pandemic deaths, I have learned to truly appreciate every day that I am alive.
I no longer complain about the unimportant nuances in life, but rather reflect on my blessings. I no longer focus on what I don’t have, but rather redirect my attention toward what I do have. I no longer think of the superficial, but rather appreciate my loved ones both here and overseas.
Now, I say thank you. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my friends. Thank you for my health. Thank you for another day lived and conquered.