Coronavirus has turned the world as we once knew it upside down. With countries around the globe beginning to open up and navigate their way around a post-lockdown society, it’s uncertain when, if ever, things will get back to normal. But, shouldn’t the real question be, do we really want things to go back to ‘normal’?
Pre COVID-19, reluctantly competing in the exhausting rat race of modern life was the norm for many. The act of balancing an unfulfilling career, a social life, growing finances, and societal pressures is difficult, especially while coping with the impending doom of a climate crisis and hushed social and political injustices.
Is it time for real change? In the powerful words of writer Leslie Dwight, “what if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw - that it finally forces us to grow.
“A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart.”
In keeping with this optimistic take on this already unprecedented year, let’s take a look at some of the lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic so that together, we can be the change.
The True Value of Friends and Family
If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s to never undervalue relationships. In hindsight, any reasons for not previously being able to fit family time or social get-togethers into our busy schedules seem trivial. When our working lives and daily routines are thrown into disarray, relationships are the only things that remain constant.
Virtual companionship and conversation have been core coping mechanisms during this isolating and uncertain time. As lockdown restrictions are lifted around the world, the first port of call for many is a reunion with loved ones. This is a testament to the value of human interaction - something that has been universally missed.
We Have Never Been so Connected
Without an abundance of video conferencing apps, lockdown would have undoubtedly been a very different story. With thanks to the wonders of modern technology, families, friends, and colleagues have been able to connect in a way that eases the blow of having to adhere to social distancing restrictions.
Social media has also kept us connected in ways that we have never seen before. It has become a tool for sharing news of injustices and mobilizing movements on a never-before-seen global scale.
It has also been a great way to keep up-to-date with coronavirus happenings and triumphs. Being able to see mask-wearing countries like Vietnam and Taiwan beat the virus has been vital in educating US citizens on the importance of wearing face masks - something that is not found on mainstream news, or by the President of the US himself.
The Importance of Time
Coronavirus has given us the gift of time. The prospect of a lockdown initially felt daunting, and potentially very boring. However, many have taken this extra time as an opportunity to complete tasks that were continuously put on the backburner. Pre-pandemic, there were never enough hours in the day. Now, many people are coming out of lockdown having learned a new skill, completed a course, or even finished a home makeover.
Going forward, it’s important to make time for ourselves wherever possible. Taking time out to relax or achieve personal goals is an invaluable form of self-care.
Working Remotely has Always been Viable
The pandemic forced many people to start working from home. This seemed like an alien concept that wouldn’t work due to the number of distractions at home. Granted, working from home does have it’s downfalls, but the lack of commute and extra time to spend with family makes up for them. It also creates more opportunities and better workplace equality for disabled workers who face accessibility issues or even discrimination when applying for jobs.
Multiple polls have shown that a large percentage of workers would now rather work from home for some, if not all, of the working week. The life of the location-independent freelancer suddenly doesn’t seem so farfetched, does it?
We Can Cope Without Excessive Travel
It’s no secret that we’re heading towards a climate catastrophe if carbon emissions are not cut in the near future. Slowing down, let alone stopping travel altogether seemed like an impossible feat. However, when coronavirus took hold, planes were grounded, cars were off the road and public transport was put to a halt.
As a result, the positive effects of cleaner air and less pollution can be seen around the world. A post-coronavirus world needs to be a more environmentally-conscious place.
The Difference Between What We Want and What We Need
With regular trips to the malls and entertainment venues out of the question, the lockdown made us reassess our spending habits. In many ways, lockdown-life has bought us all back to basics. The more simple way of living has made us realize what exactly is important to us, and it may not be material.
Why Saving for a Rainy Day is Critical
Economic uncertainty has left many individuals and businesses in financially vulnerable situations. COVID-19 has taught us that nothing in life is certain. What we do know, after discovering that we don’t need to buy into mass consumerism, is that saving might be feasible for some.
If you’re in a position to do so, the ‘new normal’ should involve putting away some money each month, no matter how small, in case of any eventuality. 2020 is only halfway through, so who knows what’s in store for us next!