No one could have ever seen COVID coming. Even in March 2020, I was still thinking after a week or two I would be returning to UMass Amherst like normal and it would have been a little bump in the road. But here we are… over a year later and still dealing with the pandemic. Though I do see the light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines are getting distributed, and I already pre-registered for my own!
On the anniversary of COVID, I thought back to a year ago, how quickly it all went down, how naive and scared everyone was, and how I let it all consume me. So I am here to write my 19-year-old scared self a few notes on how to take on a pandemic (or maybe my future self if another pandemic goes around). Other than stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper here is what I would say:
- It is okay to be alone, even if you see others are not
At the start of the pandemic, everyone just wanted to live like normal, which is what kept the spread going but also made me feel so much more isolated. I would go online to see everyone with friends partying, while I was trying to see the same people and stay in my bubble to try and keep my family safe. For every person online out with friends, there are families losing loved ones, people following the guidelines, and health care workers risking their lives. So, do not be jealous of those putting others at risk.
- Stop looking at the future and start living with the present, since it’s all you have got
I found myself continuously thinking about things I would do once the pandemic is over, once I can see friends and family again. I was giving up all the time I had to focus on what could be. And if I had done this for any longer, I would have lost a whole year or even more. I would tell myself the day we got locked down in our houses to make the most of all this extra time you have with your family and with yourself since you will never have time like this again.
- Stop trying to control what is out of your control
Everyone hates the feeling of being out of control or not being able to do what they would like to. Control is something we all had to give up during the pandemic. I can’t control those going out to parties, I can’t control when we could get out, I can’t control the businesses being shut down, etc. What I can control is how I act, staying quarantined to help stop the spread, helping small businesses, and more.
- You aren’t the only one feeling like this
We always tend to think we are the only ones feeling the way we do. Especially when we compare ourselves to what others put online. Not everything you see is the whole truth, and we are in a global pandemic, everyone across the world is isolating themselves (or at least should be) and how you are feeling is valid and normal.
- You aren’t always your best self in a pandemic
While I did try to work on myself as much as possible with all the time I had, you will never be your best self in a pandemic. No matter what this means. Everyone deals with stress differently and I think we all can agree that COVID put so many stressors on everyone. So cope however you need to to get through a pandemic if this means eating some more sweets, shutting off your phone, or talking with those around you. Do not let yourself in the middle of a pandemic dictate who you think you are.
After a full year now dealing with the pandemic, I can say I had lots of highs and lows, moments where I felt lonely, and others when I was so happy I could spend this time surrounded by my loving family. While we cannot see a specific end in sight and we will be dealing with the effects of COVID for many years to come, I can say I will use all of the tips that I have learned over the last year to help myself get through however much longer we have to deal with it.