This time last March many Americans were attempting their first Zoom call and savoring their last maskless meal at a restaurant. Now, after a year of rising Covid cases and economic strife, there is a glimpse of normalcy on the horizon. But instead of making ambitious post pandemic plans, many are focusing on the silver linings of the past year.
This unexpected positivity in such uncertain times was discerned through a series of questions posed in person and through social media. People were asked, “What are you looking forward to most after the pandemic?” and “What was something positive that happened to you as a result of it?”
Almost everyone answered the first question in just a few words. They were looking forward to traveling again, seeing family and friends, and meeting new people. Surprisingly, the second question garnered far more enthusiastic responses. Over the past year, it appeared as though many had fostered an environment of positivity and growth.
After spending the first few months of quarantine alone in her apartment, Eva Wright, 21, decided to look for someone to pass the time with. She ended up meeting her boyfriend. “The pandemic really taught us a lot about open communication and finding joy in the simple presence of each other,” said Wright. “I couldn’t be happier.” She described it as the best thing that has ever happened to her, pandemic aside.
In addition to exploring new relationships, many people emphasized an appreciation for personal growth. Anna Kireeva, 29, loved the extra “me time” she had during quarantine to dedicate to the tasks and pastimes she was usually too busy to accomplish. “It was a year of discovering and reevaluating what matters in my life,” she explained.
While Kireeva revisited old hobbies, others picked up new ones. Mitchell Levine, 59, took to learning Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. “I found a teacher and we began studies in person and later switched to using FaceTime,” he said. “For me it is a relaxing and refreshing meditative practice.”
Whether it was picking up a new skill or a new partner, everyone was eager to share the unexpected ways their lives had improved over the last year. While somewhat surprising, this improved attitude was in no way unwarranted. Cases are now beginning to decline and job growth is slowly returning due the recent rollout of vaccines, as well as continued mask wearing and social distancing.
There is still a long way to go before the country can return to the status quo. Many people have lost their livelihoods and loved ones to the pandemic, and these irreparable damages can’t go overlooked.
In spite of the hardships of the past year, however, many people have also developed valuable relationships and pastimes. Hopefully these will remain with us, even after the return of guilt free indoor dining and working anywhere but from home. Until then, we can work on keeping the cases down and the moods up.