Life Lessons

A Year in Quarantine

I’m not the type of person who rings in the new year with champagne at a party. We typically stay home and watch the ball drop before going straight to bed. I’m also not the type of person who starts off a new year saying, “this is going to be my year!” I mean, a giant ball slowly being lowered in Times Square isn’t going to make the year great magically. I do have to say that I never expected 2020 to be as crappy as it was.

Like I said, though, a giant ball slowly being lowered in Times Square isn’t going to magically make 2021 better than 2020. That happens based on what you make of a crappy situation. We are rolling up on the one-year anniversary of being in quarantine. Even being in quarantine for a full year, I feel like a lot of positives came out of the past year. I’m tired of everyone looking at the negative–myself included–and I wanted to look at the good parts that have come out of the past year.

Working on Me

A lot of people take time to “work on themselves,” and typically they have to take a break from everyday life to do that. A lot of times people put relationships on pause or they miss out on things because they need a break from people. With quarantine, we didn’t really have a choice. We had to stay home and stay away from as many people as possible. We weren’t missing out on much by staying home because there wasn’t anything going on.

Taking time to spend with yourself is essential, and I have had ample time this past year. Aside from my husband, I haven’t been around many people in person. Everything slowed down, and I was able to enjoy being more present. I was able to do more of what I love, which helped me learn more about myself. I’ve been able to think about how much nonsense was taking up space in my brain. I have so many things I can do with my life if I’m not spending time obsessing over silly things.

After all, I’m only 26. Melissa McCarthy is a famous actress who didn’t really get her big break until she was 41. Who knows what else I can do with my life?

Working on Writing

I’ve talked about this multiple times on my blog, but without everything slowing down–and shutting down–I would never have had the extra time to discover how much I love writing. Since last March, I’ve finished my first novel, started this website, and plotted out my next book. Although writing is more of a hobby, for now, I never would have found how wonderful writing makes me feel.

With this website, I’ve learned so much that I’ve always been curious about. I had a reason to ask questions and find the answers. I’ve read books and watched documentaries that I probably wouldn’t have. I just finished a four-part series about the presidents throughout the United States history, and I have ideas of multiple other series that I can research. This website reminds me that learning doesn’t ever end.

Writing isn’t only a hobby for me anymore. It’s an outlet, a way to express myself. This past year has been crappy for so many reasons, but I could get through it because I turned to my writing. Writing has helped me process a lot, and it’s given me the confidence to try new things.

Finding Out What’s Really Important

So many people go through a daily routine. We do the same things every day, then we go to bed, get up, and do it all over again. We do the same thing for holidays or major-life events. Weddings are huge, Christmas is a huge ordeal, and heaven forbid you miss a birthday party. This year, everyone had to get a little creative to stay safe.

Graduations were virtual; weddings were smaller; birthday parties were parades of people in their cars. People changed their everyday life almost overnight, and so many people worked from home. I held 5 job titles between the last day of school in May to September, yet I’ve still managed to survive teaching in a pandemic. We’ve adapted our lifestyle so that we could do our part to end the pandemic.

I’ve learned a lot about myself–what is truly important. Out of all of the adaptations, we made to survive this past year, I think one thing I miss the most is human interaction. Sure, I talk to people on the phone, and I teach over Google Meet every day. I think that so many people were stuck in their routine to realize how important relationships are.

Something as simple as going to get coffee with friends was something that I took advantage of. I even remember one of those times making me grumpy because I couldn’t find parking. How silly is that? I was upset because I had to drive around the block a few times to find a parking spot, yet I got to spend the morning drinking coffee and talking to great people. I hope that I don’t take that for granted again.

Life After COVID-19

One thing that worries me is that everyone will go back to life the way it was before COVID-19. Everyone will start setting their alarm clock earlier so they can get up and drive into work, go through their daily routine, and then repeat it the next day. I was definitely someone who needed routine and spontaneity was something I hated.

I want to randomly get coffee with a friend without planning it weeks in advance or complaining about not finding a parking spot. I want to show up to something and not have a full-out panic attack that I was a few minutes late. I hope that other people have the same realizations that I am, but sadly, I’m sure not many people will do anything about it. Although the past year sucked, I’m using it as a wake-up call. You should too. What’s truly important to you?