The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many of our plans, testing our adaptability in ways that we hadn’t previously imagined. But it’s also provided plenty of time for reflection and personal growth as we reevaluate our priorities and relationships. As I was preparing to graduate high school, I had anticipated having a drastically different summer job and attending an out-of-state university. However, I was able to obtain my driver’s license, a feat that would have been extremely difficult if my summer had gone according to plan, and strengthen my individual values rather than relying on those around me to consistently make the first move. The pandemic made me change my perspective on everyday things and people that I may have originally taken for granted.
- In-Person Gatherings
If I’m being completely candid, I am one of those people who decline to go to gatherings because I “have too much homework” or “have to get stuff done.” While certain things can’t be scheduled around, if I really wanted to go somewhere, you can bet that I’d get that homework done ASAP. Or just not do it. Hey, I never said that I was a saint. However, rarely leaving the house other than for work or church has made me realize just how much I miss physical interaction. Having the physical aspect of my relationships taken away resulted in compensating by sending more text messages or having an occasional four-hour long Zoom call to catch up when I would normally meet with that friend on a weekly basis.
Now, whenever a friend asks me to come over, I clear my schedule to the point where I’ve switched shifts with people in order to make myself available. My friends mean a lot to me, and it has become even more apparent over the course of quarantine that I have developed a strong support system. I want to demonstrate my love for my friends by showing up when it’s important and giving them a hug when they need to know that someone’s in their corner.
- Meeting New People
If you talk to any of my friends, they will not hesitate to tell you that I’m not the most social person. Once I’ve established a relationship, I’m all in, but I will almost never make the first move when it comes to introductions. In a time where networking is important and large-scale in-person events are still relatively scarce, I’ve realized that I can’t rely on others to always approach me. I’ve reached out to those in my classes and my workplace, attempting to forge connections despite my social anxiety in the hopes of broadening my perspective on the world. I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted the decision to step outside of my shell. Discernment is definitely needed in order to choose the right people to reach out to, but you’ll be surprised at how many other people are also looking for a new friend.
As a self-proclaimed “creative,” my art, writing, and music have been hobbies that I consistently fall back on when I’m looking to indulge in some self-care. One of the most impressive things that I’ve noted in quarantine is how artists have really thrived with their newfound free time. Increased time on social media has increased my awareness of new artists and creators that are producing creations at a rapid rate. Some of my extra time has been spent delving into TV shows, books, and movies that I wasn’t able to view due to previously hectic schedules. Netflix has taken advantage of their increased audience numbers by cranking out new releases like Shadow and Bone, Warrior Nun, and The Wilds. Taking in new content has also inspired me in my own endeavors, motivating me by providing examples of hard-working people producing content despite obstacles formed by COVID-19 restrictions.
I’m not one for schedules, I don’t plan any more than two weeks in advance, and I’m definitely more of a procrastination gal. However, with the constantly shifting changes brought about by the pandemic, I’ve found that creating some form of order is necessary in order to get anything done. Trust me, I would much rather consider binge-watching two seasons of a new series productive. Alas, I don’t think many successful people would agree with that assessment.
Within the last six months, I’ve created multiple to-do lists and compiled deadlines as a means of remaining on track when it comes to workload management. It also helps provide motivation by gaining the satisfaction of being able to physically cross something off of a list. Creating a routine also helped with my mental health, providing an area of stability that I could focus on when things seemed to be moving a bit too fast for my liking.
Not having a lot of people around watching you all the time can be very comforting. It can also mean that no one is there to stop you from doing something extremely stupid and dangerous. Having a support system is very important, especially one that isn’t afraid to call you out when you begin ripping down caution tape. I have different friends keep me in check in regards to different areas of my life, whether it be my faith or my mental health. It’s important to have someone you trust consistently check in with you and allow you to freely express yourself.
Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve rearranged my priorities and relationships multiple times. Having to deal with shifting policies and restrictions has provided me with the opportunity to form a small bubble of stability through increased self-control and deepening connections with those around me. I encourage you to look back at how you’ve grown, or even regressed, within the last year. Evaluate which parts of your life need to be renovated and continue to strive towards a more mature approach to and outlook on life.