The coronavirus pandemic swept the planet and effectively stopped the way in which the world has operated for so long. No one was prepared to have his or her plans, hopes, and dreams put on hold, and yet March 19, 2020 marked the first stay-at-home issued in the United States by the state of California after a total of 9,197 coronavirus cases were discovered in the United States alone; however, present-day numbers reveal a total of approximately 9.6 million documented coronavirus cases worldwide and this pandemic has resulted in over 490,000 deaths, and these two numbers only continue to steadily rise. Schools ceased in-person instruction; business offices closed, resorting to completing a vast majority of essential work remotely; all entertainment facilities and nonessential businesses were closed, and all nonessential travel was banned worldwide. We are still -- and will be for the foreseeable future -- experiencing the effects of this pandemic, and while things are slowly beginning to open up once again, the uncertainty that accompanied the early weeks of quarantine life taught me several lessons.
1) Plans change.
Life is more flexible than we think.
Most of life operates on really tight schedules and deadlines. However, this pandemic has proved that life will be okay if some nonessential tasks are completed a bit more slowly. This time allowed many of us to reprioritize what is really important because the reality is that some things really can wait, and some things are worth waiting for, as annoying as that may be. We have no control over our plans, but learning to grab control of the little aspects of life that we can control is very empowering. By relinquishing the control we once thought we had over our plans, we end up enjoying our present moments for what they are.
2) Busyness can no longer be an excuse.
The people that are supposed to be in our life will be there.
Many of the opportunities we had before lockdown are no longer a reality post-lockdown. From the trips we were dying to go on to just being able to walk across the graduation stage in front of family and friends, self-isolation caused many of us to feel as though we have missed out on so many great life opportunities. We cannot help but imagine how different life would have been without living through a pandemic. However, with this being said, everything that is meant for us is already in our possession or is coming. There is so much comfort in knowing that those things or people that are meant to be in our life at this very moment are already in it, and those that are not yet there are coming. We are incredible beings, so just know that no one is ever too busy. We all make time for what is truly important. Busyness just means he or she no longer wants us in his or her life (period).
3) Being bored is okay.
There are worse things in life than being bored.
Just doing enough to survive is an accomplishment because we are in a pandemic. It is so easy to feel as though we are not doing enough in life. During self-isolation many of us felt unfulfilled in the areas in our life we felt we no longer had control over, or felt unprovoked pressure to start something new because we had so much time on our hands. While it is good to want better for ourselves and to be bold enough to pursue endeavors we once deemed unattainable, relaxing, recharging, and doing less is also beneficial. It helps us to learn patience and, as Abraham Lincoln once said, "Good things come to those who wait."
4) Emotions are meant to be felt.
Knowing why you feel a certain way is important.
It is always going to be easier to choose happiness over everything, but constant happiness is unrealistic. How will we ever know happiness without ever experiencing sadness or anger? While I would never wish sadness, hurt, anger, pain, or frustration on another person, without these other emotions happiness would be meaningless. When I feel any negative emotions now, instead of trying to just be happy again, I ask myself what is causing me to feel this way, and is there anything proactive I can do to better this situation? Sitting with our emotions is imperative to our healing. The first step to healing is acknowledging that there is in fact a problem and our emotions serve as an indicator of the day to day problems we are bound to face.
5) Technology can fail you .
Yeah. Nothing more needs to be said.
During the start of the stay-at-home order, in-person contact was limited and work-related agendas were handled virtually and remotely. However, we cannot ignore the fact that computers crash, storage gets full, Zoom calls can end abruptly, and wifi connections can be poor. This pandemic, more than ever before, made us extremely reliant on technology for work completion and aided in our quest for a little ounce of social interaction in an era where social distancing is our current norm. It is also important to note that the transition to everything online was not as seamless for everyone; access to expensive tech necessities is not a reality for everyone, causing those individuals to experience work stagnation, insufficient funds and inability to adequately provide for their families, and information scarcity towards imperative pandemic updates.
6) Quality work production has nothing to do with our good looks.
Love the unfiltered you.
While completely loving what we see in the mirror can be a mental battle for many, lockdown and the transition to primary working from home proved our looks have no effect on our ability to produce quality work. So much of who we are is tied to our presentation of self. Working from home made getting ready to our desired socially acceptable level nonessential. Self-love begins when we are able to love ourselves, not put together, unfiltered, and all-natural because we cannot and should not expect others to love aspects of us that we cannot even love about ourselves. We must get to a place where we no longer associate our looks as a factor that validates our performance in the workplace or others' perception of us in the workforce. Self-isolation has proved that looks, environment, and all other factors we previously deemed as imperative for work success are very much nonessential.
7) Life forces us to have uncomfortable conversations
Uncomfortable conversations are always scarier in our heads.
We have no control over other people's reactions but we can control how we react. Often we fear seemingly uncomfortable conversations because the reaction we imagine or picture in our heads by those we are conversing with is undesired. No one wants to be judged for his or her feelings or life choices so we avoid conversing because the possible judgments that could follow these conversations are often too hurtful. However, the lockdown gave us a lot of time. A lot of time with people that we may have had an uncomfortable conversation with. Avoiding necessary conversations only results in mistrust, tangible tension, and creates distance between the involved individuals. Flowers follow rain the same way happiness can be a product of pain. Some of the happiest days of our life can only happen after we go through the deepest level of pain. The conversations we are avoiding still affect our reality so let's just have them.
8) People are really hurting
Have empathy for others and be grateful for the little things in life.
Overall, people need to be more empathetic. We need to be more aware of other people's struggles. As we individually undergo and experience our own day-to-day struggles, it is important to remember that those around us may also be struggling. People are really hurting, and we should aim to lend a helping hand. Let's give back to our communities, advocate for the voiceless, buy groceries for our elderly neighbors -- in short, try to sometimes put others' needs in front of our own. Having empathy for others allows us to recognize the privileges we have in our own lives and those basic things -- health, family, home, food, running water, technology -- that we often take for granted.
So while we are all very aware of all the life changes, canceled plans and events, and potential opportunities that are no more because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandated stay-at-home order, taking a moment to reflect on how this stagnation in our plans and heavily planned schedules has changed our perception of life is essential. Has COVID -19 taught us anything about ourselves? Has this pandemic made us better, more empathetic, selfless individuals, or are we even more eager to rush into the mundanity of a life that consists of overly booked schedules, totally structured days, lacking in the flexibility that makes life exciting; is it easier to exist in a life we never wanted to sign up for? As we address these questions in our own personal lives, let's aim to leave this unexpected era of our history as better people.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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