As I grabbed my backpack from my closet today to prepare for my first in-person class since March, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. I have not had to use my backpack in months, since I spend all my time doing schoolwork in the confines of my apartment. There is still a granola bar in the front pocket of my backpack, and I remember how I always packed a granola bar to eat in between classes as a substitute for breakfast my freshman year of college.
For the past 11 months, everything has been “remote”. There was no class trip to Europe, no sorority formal, no business fraternity getaway to the mountains, no CU sporting events - the list goes on. Recently, I have been thinking about how many events we have all missed out on. High school kids have had to miss out on sporting events, music concerts, FFA events, and prom; weddings have had to be postponed; and parents with jobs have had to make tremendous sacrifices in order to take care of their kids when school became virtual.
What I wonder is: how will people look back on these past months once things return to normal? It is hard not to be angry about how things have played out, even though so many things have been out of our control. How are we supposed to reflect on all the challenging situations we have faced? Should the parents of those high school seniors who missed their last prom, their Spring sports season, and had only a tiny graduation ceremony continue to complain about these canceled events? What example would that set for the teenagers who are equally as disheartened?
Personally, I have a lot of bitterness about essentially missing a year of college. However, now as I look at my backpack next to my door, packed up ready for my in-person class, I feel excited. I feel hope that things will return to normal soon. Despite everything that has been cancelled, I do know that these unprecedented times have provided an unusual and unique opportunity.
The opportunity is this: fervently being grateful for what we have, as well as the chance for growth. I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity and choose to act upon it instead of constantly being negative. I think the worst thing we, as a society, could do after this pandemic is use it to make excuses. Excuses that could range from, “Well, I wasn’t able to learn as much in a remote environment” or “since there aren’t as many activities going on, I am going to choose to be indolent.” I do realize that some consequences of the pandemic have been unavoidable. I can only imagine the toll it has taken on parents watching their kids miss out on the basketball state championships, the disappointment of a grandparent who is unable to watch some of the recent sporting events that have taken place, or the kids who have spent countless hours in the gym working hard for their sport, only to have their season get moved back further and further. Despite this, I think it is important to focus on the lessons we can teach kids about not getting what you want, and to start putting energy towards things that are attainable and in our control.
I encourage people to start taking action by packing up their backpacks and opening doors that hold new opportunities, rather than just sitting at home and choosing to focus on all the hardships they have faced. I know I will be smiling and choosing to walk out the door and embark on any new initiatives I can uncover. I want society to do the same.