OPINION: The bright side of living in a pandemic


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

Emma Rushworth, Opinion Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone. At best, it’s been a sudden and constant disruption to normal life and at worst it’s led to tragic death and loss. I would like to preface the following by saying that the pandemic is nowhere near over yet. It is still so important to socially distance when possible, wear a mask and wash your hands often.

A lot of the news right now can be depressing and times like these are especially hard on people’s mental health. On the bright side, there are so many things that living through this pandemic have highlighted in my life .

I never truly appreciated the smallest things in life and honestly took them for granted until they were taken away from me. Marywood’s campus is so beautiful, and being away from it for longer than expected upset me. Even though it seems silly, stepping onto campus for the first time mid-August felt like coming home.

Doing schoolwork and writing again is something I truly never thought I would miss. An extended summer break normally seems like a dream, but this year I was itching to get back into the groove of school and homework.

On the subject of school, I am so thankful that all of this happened in this day and age of extraordinary technology. Zoom calls for classes, virtual game nights and FaceTime calls with my friends and family have really helped keep a bit of normalcy in this otherwise crazy world.

With that, words can’t describe how much I appreciate my friends. Checking in on each other was something so sweet and consistent, but it pales in comparison to being able to see and interact with them in person. The first belly laugh with friends after several months apart really lifts your mood.

My family is a big, close-knit Irish family. We see each other frequently in normal times, whether at my grandma’s home in Scranton or at my aunt’s in Waverly. Every little celebration or get together feels like a big party. Because my grandparents are at high risk of contracting the virus, these meetups obviously needed to take a break. We played game nights via Zoom, sang happy birthday and tried to keep in touch as often as possible. Even getting to meet my new cousin Benny for the first time required a lot of extra precautions. Nevertheless, I am so thankful for the little bits of interaction we were able to have during the pandemic and I can’t wait to see them all in person again.

I’ve read more books in the past six months than I have probably read in the last three years. I finally got around to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” I can definitely see how it has held up over time as a classic. A nonfiction piece that I did read for my history class, but genuinely enjoyed was “A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell. The story detailed the unbelievable but true tale of Virginia Hall, a key spy in WWII for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), their early version of our Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The pandemic inadvertently rekindled my love of reading, and I have three more books on my list to read.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more willing to spend money. Between online shopping, ordering takeout from local restaurants and supporting small businesses, I truly lived up to the idea of retail therapy. Not only was it a way to help my community and the economy, but getting new stuff is always nice.

Being able to work and earn money has never meant more to me than during the pandemic. I wasn’t working for the first few months as most things were shut down or not hiring. However, in mid-July I was hired at Target. So far I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s given me a better sense of time and put me back on a solid schedule.

Finally, with so much sickness and death surrounding us, I am thankful for my health. As someone with mild asthma, I was worried about catching this virus since it’s a respiratory illness. However, I have been safe, socially distant when possible and worn a mask whenever it’s been necessary. I’m thankful that I have not been personally exposed to or known anyone who has suffered from the coronavirus.

In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. Being able to focus on what we have instead of what we’ve lost allows us to maintain our sanity and mental health. Living through the pandemic has given me a better appreciation for life itself. That being said, I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so I can appreciate life in more ways than what is allowed now.

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Twitter: @e_tww