The Silver Lining: Things We Can Learn from Quarantine

There is no question about the fact that needing to quarantine at home has been difficult for everyone. Whether you’re being forced to stay with an abusive family member or partner, feel isolated, or are struggling with money, everyone has been suffering through this terrifying period differently. I can recognize that throughout this quarantine I’ve had immense privilege: my family can afford to pay the bills, I have parents and siblings who love me, and I’ve found various activities to fill my time. No matter what kind of position you’re in right now, it can be incredibly hard to stay positive and hopeful when everything in the outside world seems out of your control.

There are a few things that being in quarantine has made me realize. These aren’t just momentary lapses in reality, but rather things that hover in the back of my mind every single day and force me to think differently about our current situation. One of these things is appreciation, and just how many things I appreciate that I never realized I did.

Throughout this time at home, I’ve been finding myself fantasizing about the little moments in life that I’d normally see as fillers for the bigger stuff. Walking to the convenience store to grab lunch. Sitting with all of my roommates together in the living room before bed. Breathing a sigh of relief after leaving my last class of the day. Waiting in line at a concert. Waiting in line at a restaurant. Waiting in line to check out at a store. Waiting in general! I’ve never appreciated these “filler” moments as I do now. Random errands that I always thought I “had” to do, I actually “got” to do. It was a privilege, and it’s one we don’t have now. 

Anna Schultz-Looking Out Window Road Trip

While the fact that we don’t have these moments anymore might seem deflating, it’s actually a really amazing thing. We have the opportunity to realize now that these moments are important. I’ve never had a “wake up call” quite like this one, and I feel incredibly blessed to be having it at age 20, rather than age 45 or 75 when these moments are long gone. With age comes the realization that you’ve lost moments you should have appreciated. The earlier you become cognizant of the fact that you should appreciate every moment, the richer your life will be.

We will have an opportunity to feel all of these lost feelings again. We will feel warm sunsets, the embrace of our friends and family, and everything else that we’ve lost the chance to fully feel. And when we do, we will appreciate every second of them instead of just using them as “fillers”. When we leave lockdown and have the chance to fall back into our old habits, the probability is that we will do exactly that. However, we’ll see those habits as opportunities and those moments as experiences. Memories, privileges - not fillers.

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