Guest Post by Priya Pai
Three Lessons Covid-19 Taught Me
I’m often surprised by the statement that “March 2020 was over two years ago”. It’s hard to describe how much I feel like I have changed in only two years, along with the scope of everything around me. The past two years have been some of the hardest that I have faced in my life, yet I feel they have also been a time period of major growth for me. It’s impossible to say whether I would have grown this much if a global pandemic had not ensued. I can, however, say with confidence that I will never be the same person I was before March 2020. Before COVID-19, I can definitely say that my outlook on life was different. Living both in and for the future. Study hard and work even harder. Earn various accolades. Push yourself hard and just when you think it’s enough, even harder. All for what? This bright, shiny thing we call “the future”. It’s okay if you aren’t happy in the here and now because working hard now will ensure your happiness in the future, right? I think it’s fair to say that the past two years have changed my view on living in the present just like everyone else around me. It’s not an earth-shattering or groundbreaking statement, in fact it’s pretty simple. Live in the moment. It’s difficult to honestly say that happiness in the present is worth less than happiness in the future when you don’t know what the future holds. So, at the risk of sounding like an old lady sitting on her porch (who knows, that might be me in about 50+ years), let go of overthinking. Go to the movies by yourself - don’t decide not to go just because no one can come with you. If the thought comes to your mind and you can feasibly do it without hurting yourself or anyone around you, just do it. (Thank you, Nike.) “I remember when we couldn’t go outside and school was online - you should definitely get in your self-driving car and go to the beach for senior skip day.”- Old Lady Priya
Lesson #1: Live in the present.
The rural town I so often scorned as being in the middle of nowhere became an oasis as millions of people flocked to small towns in the country rather than be crammed into a small apartment in the big city during the height of lockdown. The grocery stores which had always been filled to the brim were barren. And this is the viewpoint of a college student who was privileged enough to be able to come home from A&M and finish the spring 2020 semester online with not too much hassle. There were plenty of people I went to high school with who went to college out of state and scrambled to find flights home. People who were studying abroad who were either lucky enough to find a way home or were forced to stay behind until transportation could be arranged. Not to mention the amount of international students who were effectively kicked out of university housing around the country and living through a “The Terminal”-style nightmare.
Lesson #2: Appreciate what you have.
I feel like while there were and continue to be negative impacts from COVID-19 in the lens of education, there were definitely opportunities I found that I can’t say I would have without the world effectively shutting down. Virtual shadowing allowed me to learn from various physicians in interesting specialties and ask them questions in real time. I worked as a telescribe and learned how to use an electronic medical record with confidence. I even got the opportunity to run social media and emails for a health organization, something I never thought I could do, let alone excel at. (Slight flex). Professors now use Zoom for review sessions which is honestly much better than 300 people raising their hand to ask for clarification. Not to mention, I think the era of virtual learning has made it that much easier for professors to accommodate inclement weather while still not losing class time.
Lesson #3: Find the good.
It has definitely been a whirlwind two years, and who knows how the world will look in the next two. I can say with confidence that the lessons I have learned during the last two years of living in the present, appreciating what I have, and finding the good will for sure stick with me in not just the next two years, but forever.