My Pandemic Perspective
Like most people, when the quarantine went into effect in March, my life was flipped upside down. I felt upset, scared, annoyed, and inconvenienced, while simultaneously guilt-tripping myself with constant reminders of how good I had it compared to other people. This knee-jerk reaction to a situation none of us expected to be in lasted for a couple of weeks. Once the collective shock had worn off and a new (hopefully temporary) normal had settled, I was able to process my emotions, assess the situation, and figure out what the hell I was going to do to not let it get the best of me. Which I have.
Being unemployed and isolated at home for the past few months has made me do a lot of thinking about my life and my future. I’m the kind of person who hates setting plans too far in advance and is annoyingly adamant about staying in the present. I largely contribute this to my past experiences, and how every time it seemed like my life was headed in a certain direction, crisis struck and I had to completely change courses. But seeing that I’m twenty years old and just started my sophomore year at my online college (and will likely graduate within two years at the rate I’m going), it makes sense to at least start figuring out what it is I want for my future and how I’m going to get there.
The reason I’m completing college at such an expedited rate is that I needed to fill my time after I was laid-off from my three part-time jobs. I originally planned on regressing to a normal course load and returning to work when my jobs reopened, but now I’m not so sure. With only a high school diploma and some volunteer work on my resume, it’s practically impossible to find a decent paying job that suits my interests. But with a college diploma, the opportunities increase drastically.
I asked myself: is it worth working a minimum-wage, part-time job for five hours every day when I could be spending that time focusing on college instead? Maybe for some people it would be, but after a lot of consideration and talking it through with my parents, I decided it wasn’t for me. Had I stayed at work, I never would have come to this conclusion. I used to spend my mornings filing papers and answering questions about computers; now, I spend them in my office, on my computer, working diligently to get a degree that will put me a step closer to reaching my future goals (more on those another time). It’s become a new normal that I’m comfortable with and, seeing as I’m not reliant on a paycheck to support myself, able to keep at. My mom semi-frequently asks me if I’m lonely or bored, and while I can see where she’s coming from, I’m not. For once, being an introvert is proving to be quite advantageous.
Another unexpected and positive outcome of this clusterfuck is Nourish, the online cookbook my mom and I recently launched. We’ve wanted to do a project like this for years, but we never had the time to actually put in motion . . . until now. Creating Nourish with my mom has solidified our special bond and given us a platform to share our recipes and experiences with eating disorder recovery with the world (or at least the 160 people currently following us). Not to mention all the delicious food we’ve been eating as a result.
But the greatest thing I’ve gained from the pandemic is the realization that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. Even a couple of years ago, there’s a good chance that this situation would have caused me to spiral into a deep depression or resort to disordered behaviors to cope. And yes, there have been moments where I’ve felt down, discouraged, or just really damn stressed, but I’ve gotten through them. The pandemic has been the ultimate test to my recovery, and I’m conquering it one day at a time.
Of course I wish that COVID never happened. It’s brought immense pain and suffering to so many people, exposed the worst of humanity, and made a huge mess that will take years to clean up. But it did happen, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. All the “should haves” and “could haves” are meaningless and a waste of time. Instead of beating ourselves up over the past, we have to make the best out of a bad situation to pave the way to a brighter future. We have to learn from this experience and work together to make sure that something like this never happens again. And, most importantly, we need to think beyond ourselves and about the people who aren’t as fortunate and do what we can to protect them—even if it’s inconvenient to us. Because that’s really the only way we’ll get through this.
So, there you have it—my pandemic perspective. Let me know in the comments how you’re handling the pandemic and if you’ve learned anything from it, and please follow Nourish! We have two delicious recipes in store for next week, and you won’t want to miss them.