Four Personal Lessons Learned from COVID-19 for 2021

As the year draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the lessons we learned from the year.  While it has been a tumultuous year, there are many takeaways that have been valuable for my personal growth.  For many AU students who have experienced varied degrees of emotional upheaval during this pandemic, this may also hold true.

Spend time with those who matter:

Sometimes in the bustle of life, we are constantly meeting new people, growing our acquaintances and forgetting to take that weekend off to spend with the sister or the grandpa.  It’s only at times when distractions fall to a minimum do we realize that there are never enough hours in a day to spend quality time with a loved one.  This realization came suddenly for me in March as my social circles dwindled and activities halted to a stop.  I found this time to be difficult, being the extraverted social butterfly I felt obligated to restrict my networks to very few people.  But then as time passed, I grew fond of connecting with my grandma on Skype and found joy in cooking with my sister.  There were so many things to be grateful for and narrowing your social circles down can actually help build stronger connections than ever before.

Focus on mental health

The pandemic truly helped people realize the importance of mental health.  Self care became increasingly important as the social lockdown measures were implemented nation-wide.  The uncertainty that came in March threw our regular routines off-course and certainly challenged me to stay motivated, optimistic and healthy.  For myself, I connected with friends virtually and learned to have check-ins with myself from time to time.  In hindsight, the lack of motivation may have been some early signs of mental health fall-out and without regular meditation sessions, I may have brushed it off.  If you’re ever in doubt, check in with a medical professional and get the help you need.

Letting go of materialistic needs:

Previous to COVID-19, the consumer spending index skyrocketed for many years leaving many individuals with crippling debt.  I found that since the start of the pandemic, I began to take a closer look at my own discretionary spendings (expenses related to “wants” as opposed to “needs”).  Particularly, the pandemic’s significant influence on employment and economic conditions have also triggered this realization.

Learning to adapt to change

If I learned anything from this year, it would be the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus’ quote, “change is constant”.  While prior to March, I had a particular life routine that both challenged and satisfied my need for self-improvement, it was quickly dismantled with the start of the pandemic.  The stress of transitioning to online classes and the sudden elimination of all my extra-curricular activities was mind-numbing at first.  However, like the emotional rollercoaster that is change, I’ve learned to accept change and control what is within my ability.  This new mentality will be valuable in many different avenues of life and continue to help build resilience for other life transitions.