Here in the United States, we are officially one full year into this wild ride of coronavirus. It's hard to believe it's already been a year, but I'm hopeful that we are making great strides in defeating this virus. We have 2+ vaccines out on the market, masks are (mostly) relevant everywhere you go, and scientists say that by summer 2021, we may have enough herd immunity to get back to some type of normalcy. YAY!
As you probably do, I remember how I was feeling a year ago at this time. I recall returning to school from spring break, and there being murmurs amongst my peers and professors regarding the "China virus" making its way to the United States, and that classes may be cancelled soon. I didn't think anything of it. After all, we as a generation have never been through anything remotely like this. Our parents hadn't even experienced a pandemic until 2020.
I went into work one day early last March, (I was a waitress at a nearby restaurant in my college town), and I witnessed the restaurant managers subtly freaking out. They discussed emergency closing, only allowing a certain number of guests in the restaurant, and overall what this virus could mean for the business. Right after this moment, I approached a table of guests, one of which was coughing hysterically. Safe to say, I started to get a little scared.
I think it is important to acknowledge our feelings throughout this past year. In the first couple months of the pandemic starting, I remember feeling fearful. Fearful of not graduating on time, fearful of being out of a job, fearful of not getting to say goodbye to my college friends, and fearful for the health and well-being of myself and my loved ones. I was fearful for humanity as a whole.
As the pandemic went on, and we ventured into summertime, it was hard to come to terms with all I had missed out on already, and all the summer fun I would be unable to experience. Like many, I wasn't able to graduate with my classmates, and had to finish out my senior year of undergrad in quarantine. I was slowly coming to realize that there wouldn't be any festivals, concerts, or most of the events I usually attended in the summer months. I'm in my early 20's; this was detrimental in my mind. Then, I tried my best to shift my mindset.
I looked at all I could still do, safely. I could explore, go on hikes, and spend quality time with my family, whom I do not get to see all that often. I can confidently say I saw more of outdoor Wisconsin this past year than in all of my years of life combined. This pandemic, though ultimately did more bad than good, allowed me the chance to slow down, and to take in all the simple pleasures of life. Life is so good, if you only look for the goodness.
Now, like I said, COVID-19 has done a whole lot of harm on society. Businesses, especially small ones, were hit hard, and are likely still recovering. We lost many lives, all valuable and heart-breaking. Many people became sick. A lot of people lost their jobs. The economy faltered. However, I believe that we as a world can come out of this stronger, and maybe with a little bit more understanding and empathy. We've all had to come together, while staying six feet apart. We must ask ourselves, what good can come out of a global pandemic?
Going forward, I encourage you to take time to reflect on the past year. What did you do? What did you see? What did you experience? How did you feel? How is your mental health? How has it changed? How has life changed? Take pride in making it this far. Keep wearing masks, keep washing your hands, and if you want to, get vaccinated. We're still fighting this fight, but I'm encouraged by the fact that we've made it this far. I hope you are, too.