If someone would have told me 4 years ago that my college graduation ceremony would be canceled and postponed due to a global pandemic that would shut down the entire economy and effectively cease all forms of social life, I never would have believed them. But that’s exactly what happened.
Graduations, weddings, proms, once-in-a-lifetime trips, milestone birthdays, sporting events and so many other fun and momentous occasions have been canceled. Despite my disappointment and that of so many others, I’m certain it could be much worse. There are so many people right now dealing with COVID-19 firsthand, such as healthcare workers on the frontlines and people who have tested positive for the virus. There are people who have lost their jobs, businesses, and sources of income. When I take on this sobering perspective, I realize that although my disappointment is valid because I’ve worked hard, it pales in comparison to the suffering others are experiencing.
I’ve lived in Miami my whole life and it’s shocking and deeply unsettling to see such a bustling city entirely stop in its tracks. It’s saddening to see streets empty, my favorite restaurants and bars struggling financially and eerily quiet and my last few months of college to now be taking place virtually. This is the reality for every community across the country and it has put people in a very strange place.
We are all used to going to work and school every day and seeing our loved ones on weekends, but all of that has changed. Working from home and seeing our friends through video chats has become our new normal, which is truly mind-boggling. People are finding any way to stay connected, proving that human-to-human connection is what really matters.
Nothing can undo the damage already done by this crisis, but if there’s one thing we can learn from this is that much of what we spend our time obsessing over doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters most is your health, your loved ones, and the memories you make with them. Everything else truly falls away when you’re faced with a crisis like this.
I really hope that this time serves as a global reset for humanity and everyone comes out of this more grateful and more compassionate. I hope we focus less on our social media profiles and more on the present moment. I hope instead of idolizing celebrities and athletes, we champion the sacrifices of our healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and even our own family members–when times get tough those are our true heroes.
Although the concept of quarantining has become uncomfortably familiar to us now, it’s important to remember that it’s not forever. It’s important to take care of ourselves and carry on with our lives as best as we can, which looks different for everyone. It’s crucial to not beat ourselves up because we weren’t productive all day long either.
Taking care of our mental health during this pandemic takes on various forms. For some, it means baking and doing face masks. For others, it means sticking to a workout routine. Some have no plan at all and are just making it up as they go along, and that’s alright too. We don’t need to make it out of this crisis our most fit and beautiful selves; we simply need to survive and preserve our health and sanity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this madness, it’s that there’s no guarantee but the present moment, and if we can take the present moment to breathe and practice gratitude, we’ll make it through to the other side.
Nicole Macias is a senior majoring in English.