11 Things We Learned About Ourselves Thanks to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us into a quarantine lifestyle that’s become the new normal. Because of this situation, we’ve had to become aware of new ideas.

I wanted to compile a list of what we should take away from living a quarantined life for our self-growth. Some of these things are something I was familiar with before the quarantine. But they were a good reminder, and I think others may not be as aware or appreciative of until the quarantine. And some other things I had discovered through quarantine, like the rest of us.

Without further ado, here are those lessons:

  1. There are items on your to-do list that you will never do even if you get the free time. The quarantine exposed the excuse of “I don’t have the time” by giving many people a lot more free time. And they failed to do what they set out to even when given months. these two do list items range from casual things, such as “I want to write a book or a song” to more important things, like “I want to start a business.”
  2. The successful make the best of negative situations. It’s easy to let an unexpected event cause you to wallow in self-pity and do nothing, continuing your mediocre life circumstance. If you want to improve your life, you take negative experiences as opportunities. I recognize this immediately with the pandemic and took the time to learn how to cook, eat healthier, improve my flexibility, and tackle activities that I would’ve had a hard time doing outside of quarantine. This included getting into painting again, working more on my website and business, exploring more side gigs, and increasing my pull-up and push-up counts. No, I didn’t execute flawlessly. My cooking still needs a lot of improvement, and I need to get beyond the 10 dishes I keep making. But it’s still better than not cooking at all.
  3. There’s a big difference between “This horrible situation will last forever.” and “This difficult situation will come to an end at some point.” The first mindset is usually inaccurate and emotionally damaging. You believe your efforts are futile, and you start to become hopeless and sad. Maintaining an optimistic, realistic attitude is important, which is another reason I like the KPop band BTS, given that they spread this message in their songs and posts.
  4. The general public gets too fearful and hysteric at first when a big, negative event occurs, then, they get overly safe or bored when a lot of time goes by. I believe people were excessively scared and holed up in their houses during the initial announcements of the covert pandemic, so much so that they caused a run on toilet paper. And now, after many months have passed by and people have gotten sick of staying at home, I see so many Americans who don’t care anymore or think it’s safe when we still have yet to see a vaccine, so they’ve resumed their normal routine, just with masks worn on occasion.
  5. Dedicating a recurring amount of  time to introspection is useful for every person. Post Malone recently went on to the Jimmy Fallon show virtually and expressed how the quarantine made him more introspective since he couldn’t go out and do normal things. He said it didn’t make his songwriting better or worse, but it made him think differently. Most of us had to adjust to a new level of free time and opportunity to be alone with ourselves. This time is crucial for reflecting on your journey, where you want to go, who you are, what fulfills you, what brings you happiness, and other important life choices. Frankly, you you can use this alone time in a variety ways to better your life, including enhancing the neglected parts of your skill, something that many people neglect. Many of athletes end up beating their competitors because they spend more time than others studying the strategy and mental side of their sport. Some people have a tendency to neglect introspection and reflection. Some people are scared to face who they are, what they want, or what they’ve done. Others just never considered to do it. Even if it’s scary to confront who you are or ask big questions, it will benefit you in the long run. Maybe just start by getting out a journal and write down your big goals in life. Then, write down why you want to achieve those goals and how you’re going to get there. That way, you can question if those are really the goals that will matter most to you and form a plan. For some people who want to take it a step further and improve their mental game, emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical energy, read the book The Power of Full Engagement.
  6. Some television and social media can be entertaining or even informative. Too much can numb your mind, leave you sluggish, and give you a false sense of how the world works. I don’t need to go into detail since so much has been said about this topic. But you know the feeling when you’ve just watched too much Netflix. You feel crappy because you haven’t done any thing other than watch a make-believe story which is too ridiculous or idealistic to be how the world works.
  7. It’s up to you to become the master of your day, and the good news is you can do it! Despite the trials and tribulations that I’ve seen many people face because of this new normal, I’ve seen most of them cope, live their best life, and seem to have found a way to maintain their happiness and a good lifestyle. It’s up to you to find stuff to do, schedule exercise regularly, connect with friends for your mental health if that stuff is still important to you. And from what I can see, people will naturally figure it out. Sure, there still may be times of turmoil and unhappiness, loneliness, or frustration behind-the-scenes, so I don’t want to make any conclusions. Successful people take the initiative to make the best of situations. Yet many of us can do a better job taking initiative. I knew I had to step it up because there’s a chance I could have just vegged out and started a minimalistic life of work, food, and sleep. I knew I wanted more. So I took a few virtual painting classes and did some other engaging activities, such as catch up with friends on the phone.
  8. Humans need more than food and water to stay happy and sane, such as community and social bonds. I found that different people need different levels or types of relationships and interactions. I prefer contributing and talking in conversations to feel like I am part of an interaction or relationship. That’s something that fuels my happiness and mental health. I found that others simply need to be around other people.  They don’t have to speak, as long as they’re in the same vicinity and can hear others talk or conduct their work. Human beings are one of the most social creatures, and that’s why we’ve become so successful as a species and why humans go insane if they’re left alone, like in that Tom Hanks movie (or Will Smith’s I Am Legend).
  9. A physical interaction is and will always be different from a virtual interaction, even if Mark Zuckerberg perfects holograms. As you know, the world has transitioned to Zoom and Google Hangouts to conduct meetings since they can’t meet in person. I’ve heard several people mention how a virtual meeting is just missing something that a physical meeting has, which has caused many people to opt out of virtual activities in favor of any physical interactions they can do. Maybe because of my somewhat engineer-y, angular thinking style, I would’ve have believed a virtual experience couldn’t replace a physical one completely at one point in the past. I would’ve thought that you can still see the other person, exchange information, talk and respond just like a normal interaction. What could be missing? Well, there’s a lot. For some people, physical touch, whether a pat on the shoulder or a hug, is an important part of communicating someone’s emotions, feelings, compassion, or intent. There’s also seeing someone’s flesh three-dimensionally. Plus, there’s always that lingering thought in your head that the meeting is virtual rather than real. You know you’re not actually there with the person, which means you may have just spent the entire day staring at a digital screen, never coming into contact with something that’s actually real. People who talk to relatives virtually from other countries already know what it’s like. While talking to them on a computer or phone is better than nothing, it’s different than hugging them, walking around town with them, and actually being able to see them. Hence, knowing that a physical interaction could be more useful than a virtual one is a good insight to keep in your back pocket for your career in life. There are times when a business could set up a digital meeting with a client, but they should choose to take that added inconvenience of driving and meeting with them in person. Similarly, doing virtual dates has less of a magical effect and meeting in person. According to research from the book Why Women Have Sex by Dr. David Buss and Cindy Meston, women unconsciously pick up on a variety of signals about a male’s health, fertility, and genetic compatibility through her senses when she meets a man. Through her smell of the male scent (his pheremones), she can identify if a male has enough genetic difference from her to be seen as attractive based off the pheromones he gives off. How he moves and how often he gives nonreciprocal touches to his peers and to her can convey his status and health.
  10. We take for granted what we have until it’s gone. This can apply to anything, small or big. Some just want to walk outside and feel the sun again. Others wish they could see a loved one in real life again. I have a list of things I’m grateful for and have realized I’ve taken for granted, including short lines at grocery stores.
  11. Quarantine forced a stillness, peace, and everyday lifestyle that some people needed. I see this a lot in celebrity interviews during the quarantine. They’re always on the road, so some of them have found it nice to have a normal day where they can walk their dog and stay in one spot for a while. Some have also found more time to spend with their children and other family. The bigger lesson here is that these moments should be a required part of your life to reset rather than something that is forced upon us by a once-in-a-lifetime quarantine. Without ever saying no to requests and giving yourself a recurring amount of time for stillness and quality time, you can burn out or end up with regret.

So those are the main insights I’d like to share through my experience of the COVID-19 quarantine. I’m sure I’m missing some lesson I learned, so I may come back to this and add to it. Is there anything you would like to add to this list? Leave a comment and share with our community so that we can all grow and move forward.

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By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.

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