The upsides to disrupting “normal”

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Using gratitude to realize opportunities

A year ago, the world decided it wanted to end – let me tell you friends, it has been a crazy ride since then. I know many individuals have been struggling through online schooling, quarantine, the restrictions, and the overall lack of in-person interaction that we are allowed to have. It is extremely stressful experiencing the things you love to do be banned or altered. However, I am here to share some rays of sunshine about the upsides I have found throughout the last year. 

 I know this sounds crazy. Upsides to the world ending? Who in their right mind would think that anything positive could have come out of this horrendous experience? Buckle your seatbelts, as you’re in for a whirlwind of an adventure to find out. 

Like many of us, my family caved and brought home a new pet at the beginning of quarantine. Although a bit of an impulse decision, this little guy fits in great with the rest of the family. Our newest addition, Hogan, was rescued by Regina Cat Rescue, and once he was cleaned up and cleared by a vet, we were able to bring him home. Not only has he kept us entertained during quarantine, but he alone has breathed new life back into my older pets who are adjusting to having the younger boy running around. Many of the shelters in the city were able to find new homes for their rescues during this time which is absolutely wonderful. 

Not only did being at home allow me more time with my furry boys, but I also got to spend time with my actual family. They seem like nice people. Prior to the lockdown, there were times when I would go days without seeing them based on our schedules, but now I see them every day. It took a lot of getting used to as quiet moments were few and far between with almost all of us being home all the time. Although challenging, it has been nice to be able to bond closer with them while I get ready to apply to schools outside the city in this next year.

I was very fortunate to be deemed an essential service at one of my jobs which has allowed me to push through. Even though being out in public spaces is very stressful, I am very lucky that I can leave my home a few days a week to go to work and talk to people. I never realized how much one values the two minute conversations with people as they are checking out until that is the only chance you have to talk to someone outside your household. With many of my courses being asynchronous as well, I was able to change my schedule so I am no longer forced to work every single weekend and can take a Sunday off here and there without losing out on hours and income. This is something that has been incredibly refreshing for me as I have not been able to do this since I started working six years ago. 

Professionally speaking, the pandemic has opened up a ton of opportunities that are normally closed as they are usually in-person events. The number of lectures, presentations, and workshops I have been able to attend for free from universities across Canada and the US is insane. All of these have been completely free and have given me so many new things to consider and look into regarding my interests in psychology and other related areas. Travelling to these workshops is not feasible for most people in school during a regular year, so having the ability to enjoy them from the comfort of my room has been a dream. 

Within the parameters of our university, I have had the opportunity to interact with more people than I normally ever would have. From first-years, the other student groups, and those from other faculties, I would have never talked to this many people if we were in person. Typically, I stay in my bubble and do not leave the small group I have created. However, knowing that everyone is struggling and that now is the time to be bold and lean on each other has opened up so many connections and opportunities. 

Now, I do not know if anything that I have gone through is relatable for anybody else. Maybe you have stayed inside your bubble and have not tried speaking to anyone new. Tragically, you may be allergic to cats. Or, you may have been unable to work during the lockdown period. We have all faced hardships, and I will not deny the fact that this year has been traumatic in so many ways. No matter what, you can say that you have successfully made it through this disaster thus far and that you are still able to continue moving forward. Take some time and reflect on the positives from this year. It was dark and it was dreary, but I promise you that there are gaps of sunshine between these clouds. 

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