On a global scale, COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. From the way we socialize to the way we work, everything has changed, and these changes are likely to be permanent. The novel virus has claimed loved ones and livelihoods, and even with a vaccine, it will be months before this nightmare is behind us. However, this dark cloud does have a faint silver lining. Without further ado, here are some valuable life lessons I learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Mental Health Matters
As a mental health advocate, I have long believed that mental health is just as important as physical health. However, by and large, the rest of the world did not get that – until now. Today, due to issues like lockdowns and general uncertainty regarding the future, mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. People are suffering from immense mental distress; a lot of people I know are experiencing issues like anxiety and depression for the first time. Many of us are on the verge of burnout and pandemic fatigue has become a serious problem. We are going through a mental health crisis, but at long last, the spotlight is firmly on mental health. People have started to understand that mental health is important – especially in hard times like these. We are slowly learning things like it’s normal to consult a therapist, it’s okay not to be productive sometimes, and routine self-care is indispensable.
2. Life Can Change In An Instant
Life is unpredictable and 2020 has definitely proved that, hasn’t it? Conspiracy theories aside, nobody saw this pandemic coming. The phrase ‘tomorrow never comes’ now has a very real threat attached to it. Like many individuals, I have realized that we truly cannot take anything for granted. This newfound attitude of gratitude has taught me to appreciate the little things and stop being entitled. Most importantly, it’s made me more proactive; if I want to do something that’s important, I try my best to get it done today instead of putting it off for a day that may never arrive. This disease has compelled me to overcome my anxiety and live in the present instead of worrying about the future.
3. Community Runs The World
For lone wolves and introverts like me, this is a crucial life lesson. To some extent, each one of us needs the support of other people in our lives. Without human company, loneliness hits us all. For some, it might visit after a week, for some after two months, but we cannot escape it. Plus, like all social animals, we rely on the power of collaboration. And collaboration is possible only when a community exists. COVID-19 has proved how much we need each other to function. Where would we be today without our frontline and essential workers? Knowing that are all in this together has also helped me be more empathetic to people in general. Even on days when it’s hard to be kind, even to people who are difficult. After all, celebrities singing Imagine didn’t fix a thing. People in touch with the real world are the ones making a real difference. And you and I need to do our bit to help.
4. Working From Home Is Legit
Truth be told, I always knew this; I’ve been working from home since 2014. And yes, people have othered me for not being a “normal” office-goer like them. It’s a big win now that the world has finally accepted that work from home is just as legit as working from an office. I only wish that this vindication did not come at the cost of a deadly pandemic. Anyway, now that most people have realized that online jobs are neither scams nor code for slacking off, work from home is here to stay. In fact, many workplaces have or are planning to implement a hybrid model at work, wherein employees will alternate between working remotely and working from the office.
5. Life Is Unfair — And There’s Not Much We Can Do About It
Again, I always knew this because like so many people, life has been needlessly cruel to me too. It’s the reason I have chronic mental illnesses, why my marriage ended the way it did, etc. But the pandemic really drove home the point that life is unfair. While we can make a few choices, each one of us is by and large governed by destiny or whatever higher power is out there. Nobody (well, at least not regular people) saw COVID coming. Nobody was prepared for the millions of lives it would take, nobody was prepared for lockdown after lockdown, and so on. 2020 was a terrible year by all means, and there’s nothing anyone can say that will change my mind.
6. Humans Are Resilient Beings
We are not just creatures of habit, we are also creatures of adaptability, and that’s what makes us resilient. The world as we knew it came to a crashing halt, yet we held on for dear life. Today, nearly a year into the pandemic, we are coping, grieving, and failing. But we are still here, we are still trying, still fighting. People of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds have learned to kind of adapt to the new normal. Life will never be the same again in the near future and as usual, we will find ways to survive. Even though this crisis is unprecedented, we will get through it with trial and error. After all, nothing lasts forever and we are resilient as hell.