Opinion | The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reflect

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CW / Tomia Teague

Hayden Kimbrough, Contributing Columnist

COVID-19. Tired of hearing that? I know I am. Not only has this virus taken over our lives, our schools and our nation, but our whole world. More than 200,000 deaths in just the US and nearly a million worldwide. This pandemic has left people homeless and created a decrease in the workforce across all economic sectors. Schools have closed, and the demand for manufactured products has decreased as well. I could reiterate all the traumatic and destructive circumstances this virus has brought upon us, but have you really ever sat down and thought about the positive effects? Have you looked around and thought about the beneficial things that have happened or that are in the works? 

Now trust me, it is hard to think of COVID-19 in a positive light. I am a class of 2020 graduate that had my senior year swept away in a matter of seconds. From delivering the graduation speech I’d been anticipating for four years to my last prom with my friends before we all shipped off to new places. All gone. Focusing on the positive things in these circumstances can be challenging, but the bright side does exist. As a generation, we have united. We have sacrificed our personal celebrations and acknowledgments for the safety of our nation. 

Before the many lockdowns, if you told me I’d be locked in the house with my family with nothing to do, I would have told you you were lying. Although from personal experience, and I believe many would agree, having to slow down and spend quality time with the people around you has mended and created so many bonds. American culture promotes the idea of constantly working, making money and making a name for yourself. This pandemic has forced the over committers and overachievers to focus on something other than success and learn to not take the little things for granted. It has forced the parents who are constantly working to sit down and ask their daughter how she really is. It has forced the people who keep busy to distract themselves from the circumstances they are ignoring, to finally spend some time alone to reflect, accept and grow.     

Examining just our generation, we see many new positive attributes we have gained as a whole that we will continue to carry with us for the rest of our lives. Our generation has learned and expressed gratitude and empathy more than ever through these challenging and unfortunate experiences. From this point on, nothing is taken for granted because we have experienced what it is like to put your life on hold and to lose so many things. We have not only improved emotionally but have begun to be more politically engaged. Our curiosity behind wanting to know how we will make it out of this has led to learning to be more informed and educated. Many people have formed new opinions and are finally focusing on their political standpoints. Whether I agree with your political views or not, I believe it is so important to be passionate and truly know what you believe in. 

All of these things help us learn how we can work to promote growth and change. When many things are swept away, you really take a step back and realize what is most important in your life, and it is positive to understand and love yourself more through this season of loss and change. This pandemic has brought us together as a whole. Everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or political stance, has been and is being affected by this pandemic. In order to find comfort in these tragic and detrimental times, we have united as one.