Thanks to the never ending supply of terrible events that 2020 has thrown at us, it has become easier than ever to feel sorry for ourselves. Graduation ceremonies? Cancelled. Weekend outings? Cancelled. Family vacations? Cancelled. It’s quickly become the year restricted by “can’t” rather than a year defined by “do.” And with so much cynicism circulating the daily news, you can’t really fault a person for throwing a pity party… socially distanced and with masks on, of course.
The thing is, I’m guilty of it, too. After it became clear that my two-week spring break was about to turn into the total demise of college life as I had known it, all I wanted to do was whine and complain about how unfair the pandemic had been to my plans. That’s right, my plans. With that kind of rhetoric, it was like I was claiming that the COVID-19 virus had purposely spread around the world just to wreak havoc on my life and nobody else’s.
In truth, the virus doesn’t have a vendetta against any one of us, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t impacted each of our lives in negative ways. In the absolute least, we’ve all had to learn how to quarantine, adjust our daily routines, and forego unnecessary socialising. But when we step back and put these actions into perspective, the bigger picture comes into focus more clearly. With every sacrifice that we’ve willingly made, or unwillingly had thrust upon us, we’ve done something that has saved lives. When you start to think about the countless people who were saved, rather than the plans that were lost, suddenly that cynicism looks a lot more like optimism.
It certainly hasn’t been easy to move back home with my mother after four years of sweet, independent freedom at college. And, believe it or not, my ideal post-graduate plans did not include lounging around the house all summer without a job, as relaxing as that may sound. To put it lightly, I felt incredibly, selfishly angry to have graduated into a pandemic.
That was until I took down the streamers, popped the balloons and looked around at my own pity party and thought “Why am I still feeling so sorry for myself?” Gaining the perspective that the entire world was being affected by COVID-19 made me realise that I had to stop believing that I was some type of victim because I didn’t get to walk across a make-shift stage in May. People across the globe were pushing forward, despite the uncertainty of the months that lie ahead, and it was time I made the best of the situation, too.
Even though the job market I had been eagerly flooding with my cover letters had suddenly dried up since March, I began scouring the web for internship opportunities. I decided that if I could spend my time enhancing my portfolio and gaining real-world experience, I would have something to show to future employers (in a post-Corona world) to prove that I did something with the free time I was given. After all, “We can’t change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.”
Since July, that’s exactly the way I’ve been trying to do. Play my hand. Within the tiny setting of my childhood bedroom, I’ve set up a desk and a workspace where I can pretend like I am the prosperous, successful adult I dreamt that I would be at this stage of my life. I’ve picked up two internships that give me a cumulative total of 40-hours a week and found simple pleasures in the joys of living at home, such as constant attention from my dog.
Certainly the best psychics in the world could not have predicted what this year had in store for us. I certainly couldn’t have imagined that my year of seemingly endless guarantees would quickly become months of unending question marks. But once we realise that the pandemic is more than just an individual’s inconvenience, we can begin to play the hand we’ve been dealt. And with a little empathy, patience, and selflessness, I hope that the 2020 pity party can quickly become 2021’s virus free celebration.