MacCarthy Baker –
Reflecting on the changes these past few months have brought, I am overwhelmed by the events that have brought our country and our world to where it is today. Looking back, I am embarrassed to realize how naïve I was regarding the severity of COVID-19 and the events to come. As the virus began to overtake our country in mid-March, I was more upset about cancelling my spring break plans, missing a few weeks of classes, and spending my birthday with my parents rather than my friends as I had planned. I did not recognize then the severity of what was to come. I did not recognize that my concerns were so small in comparison to the struggles that millions of others were already facing.
Coping with the transition that quarantine brought was not any easy task. Within days I had gone from juggling classes, work, and social activities–an environment that I thrive in as an extrovert–to only seeing my immediate family and not leaving my house for days at a time. I will be the first to admit that I lost valuable time mourning the loss of what would have been, and it comes as no surprise that this did not get me anywhere. It wasn’t until I forced myself to look beyond my limited view and appreciate my fortunes that I came to recognize the opportunity that this respite from normal life could bring. Not only was I able to take more time to reflect on myself and areas that I wished to improve in personally, but I also became more aware of living in the moment. Instead of spending my time upset about the opportunities I was missing back on campus, I promised myself that I would embrace every moment I got when life returned to some sense of normalcy. I became more appreciative of the people I surrounded myself with on a daily basis. My goal was to stop constantly waiting for the next thing or wishing for more, a thought process I had unknowingly trapped myself in, and instead take the time to cherish the moment. I have started the long process of relearning how to stop and smell the roses, enjoy the sunsets, and appreciate the now rather than the then or later. I am reminding myself the importance of finding enjoyment out of the smallest things, including a somewhat ridiculous joke.
The travesties of COVID-19 have revealed the fragility of both life and our society. I encourage everyone to capitalize on this time that has been given to us and treat it as a gift- an opportunity to improve ourselves, our relationships, and our society in an effort to secure a better future for not only our community, but for the entire world. If we don’t do this, I truly believe that it would be a waste of the experiences we have gone through in these recent months. Our challenge is to take this time surrounded by negative events and produce positive outcomes. This is the time for our generation especially, to stand up and take control of our own future, to help the world reach the full potential we know it is capable of achieving. We may feel as though we have taken a giant step back, but I encourage everyone to see this as an opportunity to take an even bigger leap forward. Let us prioritize the need to work on ourselves so that we can grow and rely on one another in our community. These are the seeds that need to be planted in order to enact large-scale changes.
The uncertainties of this global pandemic have induced an immense amount of stress globally. It has forced humans to be flexible as changes continue taking place on a day to day basis. Take this opportunity as time for us to create positive change. Be kind, be happy, and be appreciative. Change is scary. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is growth.