The past five months surely have been unsettling, disruptive, and challenging for everyone in their own way. We are living in uncharted territory, so everyone’s approach to the pandemic is different. Some may take a socially cautious approach, and some may throw caution to the wind; but regardless of our approach, we all have learned how to hang onto old routines, learn new routines, and continue to figure out how to live in this new normal.
My family has taken a very conservative approach to COVID-19. When reopening plans began to roll out and people could return to some sense of normalcy, my family continued to live in a lockdown-type world, what we often call “the Holland bubble.” We have our groceries delivered, buy take-out food minimally, and see only two other families who are doing the same as us. This has undoubtedly been hard for all of us, but it’s the only way in which we feel comfortable in an otherwise uncomfortable environment.
Typically my summers are filled with beach days, an end of summer trip to somewhere exciting, and fun times with my family and friends. However, this summer hasn’t even felt like a summer. I’ve spent my days trying to get in shape again, working on my summer reading, organizing and reorganizing my room, and endless scrolling through my phone; but no summer trip and no beach with friends and family! Boredom has taken on a whole new meaning, but over time, I’ve learned to accept this new lifestyle and I have even gained a sense of clarity in important elements of my life.
For example, in the past five months I’ve gotten better at being alone. I now think of it as a skill rather than a state of being. I’ve always been an extrovert and someone who needs people around at all times, and although I love my family more than anything else, the inability to make plans and see other family and friends has been a huge adjustment. Fear of missing out (or otherwise known as FOMO) has been real to say the least, but constantly thinking about what you’re missing out on has no tangible benefits whatsoever. Developing the ability to compartmentalize and not wallow in self-pity has helped me a lot in these past few months, but it is something I often need to remind myself of.
Another factor I’ve had to accept is the lack of control. For the first time in my life I can’t predict or plan very far in advance, which only amplifies how much I am missing my previous social life. Life has never been as unpredictable as it is now, but it has taught me to focus on the present and not focus on the “what if’s.”
The last, and most important thing I have come to realize, is the value of forgiveness and letting the little things go, towards both others and myself. The pandemic has caused me to realize how fast things can change, and how tomorrow isn’t promised. Spending unnecessary time and energy towards negative thoughts and actions isn’t worth it. Life is too short to be disappointed in others, and or too hard on yourself. Pre-pandemic, after doing poorly on a test I would beat myself up and only feel better if I did ten times better on the next test. Going forward, however, I feel it is important to care less about the insignificant things, and care more about spending time with loved ones, remaining in the present, and enjoying every day.