I remember when Covid-19 seemed like a distant simulation that could never reach the US. I’d wake up to notifications of rising cases in the international community, but the overwhelming numbers felt unreal. America is nowhere near immune, and whether our country wants to admit it or not, we underestimated it. COVID-19 has become our unimaginable reality. And, if not all of us, most of us have been affected physically, financially, academically, or mentally.
All-in-all, I’m very fortunate that I was never affected physically or financially by COVID-19. However, I can definitely say otherwise for my academics and mental health. It’s definitely a privilege to be able to talk about what I learned about myself and life in general despite the ongoing pandemic, so I want to pay it forward by sharing two valuable life lessons I learned.
1. Stop using others’ achievements to measure the weight and validity of your own achievements
We are all on our own path. Especially as a Bentley student, where everyone is connected on LinkedIn, it can be hard to remind yourself that just because you saw a few people do internships over quarantine, it doesn’t invalidate however you spent your time during quarantine. Worked in retail? Get that money! Started your own business? We love an entrepreneur! Took baby steps to control your anxiety? I’m so proud of you! Stayed home and/or followed quarantine guidelines? Way to go for respecting others! You and I aren’t each other's references for a sense of achievement. Give yourself a break (and some more credit)!
2. In a rut? Do the next right thing.
I deal with anxiety on a daily basis, but it had never been more than I could handle. Quarantine tested those boundaries, and it was scary. For weeks, I found myself comfortable at the right end of my family room couch, binging movies and shows on end to cope. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from everything and everyone, but I was losing strength and motivation. I hate to admit it, but I was watching Frozen II on a Disney Plus binge, and one of their soundtrack titles is “The Next Right Thing." Anna thought she lost everyone, and she was stuck alone in a cave reflecting on her distress. She wasn’t in a good place (pun unintended!), but she didn’t completely give up. She did the next right thing, even if it meant simply taking a step.
This humble five-word phrase has been a game-changer. Sometimes, we become so overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear that we are paralyzed. We feel discouraged to act, and the more we stay idle, the less confident we become in our abilities. However, there’s one absolute thing we can control, and that’s right now. If you ever feel stuck, do the very next right thing. It can be as simple as taking a breath, drinking water, taking a shower, going on a walk, etc. Do the next right thing. This call for action forces you to draw yourself to the present moment and away from future fears and anxieties. It’s not meant to be a cure-all, but I hope it’s a step in the right direction for you as it was for me.