The shelter in place orders have had quite an impact on all of us––likely a different one on everyone, but an impact nonetheless. Common themes include being extraordinarily bored, as we can’t go out to eat with our friends or shopping at the mall. We’ve all been adjusting to this new lifestyle automatically as we alter parts of our daily routine to work with the novel circumstances. Whether it be shaving our heads because we can’t get a haircut or waking up a few hours later, our schedules and lifestyles have undoubtedly changed.
Whether these changes are pleasant or not, we brush them off as a temporary shift that will soon go away when the coronavirus disappears. However, instead of paying little attention to or putting little thought into the changes we are seeing or making, we should look at them closer in order to both understand ourselves better and determine how to get the most out of our lives even after the pandemic dissipates.
For example, we might find that our social lives have changed due to the inability to go outside or do anything together. For those who go to school, we might suddenly be talking to only half the people we used to. Indeed, we realize that the only reason we really only interacted with some people was to feel less lonely at school or to make small talk or ask for help about homework or school clubs. On the other hand, the people we are still in contact with are likely those that we have a much deeper bond with and truly enjoy talking to. Even if the friendships that fade are ones we desperately still want to keep, we realize that they were only kept afloat due to our common presence in a class or an organization. Once that common ground is erased, we lose the ability to connect with them on a conversational level.
Something similar can be said about academics and activities. Many of us have found that our work or school workloads have been lightened, giving us time to pursue additional activities in this newly created free time. Indeed, much of this work has become optional or voluntary, giving us the option of learning by choice. By the way we spend our extra time, we can determine if our current job or study area is truly what we are passionate about. Or, we might discover that another hobby truly intrigues us. Shelter in place may be an obstacle but it is also an opportunity: we’re typically so caught up in our well-worn routines that we are rarely able to consider alternate walks of life. We should use this point of time to truly consider our priorities and evaluate our current position in life and how we can change it for the better.