Opinion: COVID-19 has taught us gratitude


Amber Chia

Due to the current health concerns, limited social interaction is advised. This includes family members who are considered high risk.

As I reach for the rear mirror in search of the most essential piece of cloth of 2020, I realize nothing is hanging around it. I sigh as I release my parking brake and make the journey home to retrieve my mask. I know for a fact that I am not the only one that has experienced a similar scenario.

Despite these frustrations, these encounters have made me appreciate the simple things that were taken for granted before a shelter-in-place order was issued. The simple everyday activities that I thought would be there tomorrow were suddenly taken away. Although there were times during quarantine where the world seemed as if it was on the verge of crumbling into millions of pieces, there have been valuable lessons that I have obtained during self-isolation. 

I can still distinctly recall when the Bay Area first issued a shelter-in-place. I was utterly oblivious to the severity of the virus. Instead, I was ecstatic that we would get a two-week extension to our spring break. Little did I know, I would not see the inside of a classroom for eight months, or possibly longer.

While millions around the world abruptly felt a need to purchase an absurd amount of toilet paper, I actually enjoyed the extensive amount of time I had. I finally had extra time to pursue tasks I have always wanted to try, like starting a new T.V. show or learning to bake bread. It felt as if we truly had all the time in the world.  

My daily routine consisted of minimal homework and watching copious amounts of The Office, which was unexpectedly entertaining. However, a month later, the lack of social interaction caught up to me. Social interaction, something that I believed would always be there, was limited to none. As the days dragged on, and quarantine was continuously getting extended, boredom slowly crept onto me as the constant news updates created panic. 

Less than a year ago, most of us had the freedom of going to a friend’s house without questioning where they have been. We could walk into a grocery store and make small talk with the person in front of us at the checkout counter, without raising concerns for our health. A high five or a hug was not implicitly forbidden. We also did not have half of our faces covered, only being able to read one another’s emotions through our eyes.  

Whether this is going to the movies with a group of friends or simply having food on our table, I have realized how much I had taken for granted. These simple pleasures that seemed like a deemed quality of life are no longer guaranteed.