There is no doubt that the beginning of this new decade has been a rough one — from the Australian bushfires, the deaths of Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman, murder hornets, police brutality the election and the most prominent issue, COVID-19. The emergence of COVID-19 has caused us to completely change our ways of life. It has been a large adjustment, and as the economy tanked back in March and April, people were losing their jobs. It is really difficult to remain positive in these trying times, but there are some good things that we can take away from this pandemic.
The most obvious lesson is that we can improve our hygiene game and practice socially responsible behavior. Since this pandemic began, it has baffled me that we didn’t have disinfectant wipes available in every classroom on campus to disinfect our seats before we sit down. According to the National Institutes of Health, the coronavirus can remain stable and alive on surfaces for several hours, as can the common cold and flu. This means that if someone who was sick went to an 8 a.m. class, they could potentially infect someone who sat in the same seat in an 11 a.m. class. Even before COVID-19 hit, every time I would change classrooms, I would wash my hands and use hand sanitizer. Now, post-coronavirus, I am going to continue to do this and bring disinfectant wipes with me to classes to wipe down my area before class begins.
Another positive takeaway is to not take spending time with friends or going out for granted. Being the introvert that I am, whenever I would get invited to a party or a get-together, my first answer was either a straight-up no or saying yes and dreading going to the function. Now, I jump on the opportunity to get together with my friends and spend time with them. I also used to take going out to eat and going to the movie theater for granted, but now, I would kill for some delicious, buttery movie theater popcorn.
I never realized how busy we Americans always are. Pew Research Center reported that 60% of U.S. adults in 2018 said they at least sometimes felt too busy to enjoy life, and 12% said they felt this way all or most of the time. With COVID-19, we were forced to get out of this habit of rushing around and just take a break to relax and enjoy time with our family. It was a big adjustment for me to stay at home all day and not be busy, but it allowed me to spend more time with my mom and learn new skills like how to bake macaroons and angel food cake.
While these have been very dire times for all of us, it has proved that we as humans are more adaptable than we think, and we have the ability to adjust to tough situations and thrive in them. The resilience of the human race is amazing and shows that we truly are limitless.
Helen Claire McNulty is a senior biology major from Holland, Michigan, and West Palm Beach, Florida.