It’s fair to say that most people have despised the past 11 months. Loneliness and boredom have infiltrated everyday life as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that’s how the majority feels.

Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed such a detached lifestyle, and although this might be an unpopular opinion, I doubt that I’m the only one who feels this way.

Of course, there are aspects of  “normal” life that I absolutely adore. Spending time with friends, visiting my extended family and attending live sporting events are all things that I miss dearly. When I think about those scenarios, I feel the ever-so-common resentment towards COVID-19 that most people can relate to.

On the other hand, being an anxious introvert at heart has helped me appreciate the changes that humanity is facing. 

For starters, I have thrived while pursuing an online education. Having the ability to customize my schedule and take my classes in a familiar space has enabled me to feel comfortable while examining the new realm of college. 

I was a nervous wreck before COVID started, fearing the transition into college would prove to be too difficult for me to maintain a good academic standing. 

Now, I feel ready to tackle any challenges that come my way throughout the next four years. I have excelled academically, and I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same; I’m secretly hoping that online classes remain a widespread option even when COVID diminishes. 

Another byproduct of pandemic protocols that I’ve adored is having more personal time. Self-care has become such a prominent part of life over the last year, and it has made me feel more in touch with my own emotions and capabilities. My confidence has increased as social pressures were limited. By getting to know my needs as an individual, I now embrace my authentic self. Plus, it’s been nice to wear some cozy sweatpants nearly every day. 

I’ve been able to value life’s little things when in isolation, which even led me to some new hobbies and interests. I have been fortunate enough to write and record my own music, learn a bit more about makeup and become an expert chef (at least, I’d like to think I’m an expert by now). All of these things have brought me such joy, and I doubt that I would have learned so much without the alone time spent during COVID.

Being alone and facing these global challenges has only made it easier for me to envision a positive future. Before COVID, so many of my worries revolved around anticipation and “what ifs.” Now, I recognize that even in the most unprecedented of times, I can persist and continue to grow. 

The most apparent positivity which COVID has brought me is my newfound love for writing. I have always been a creative student, and writing was definitely a strength of mine before the pandemic. Now that I have bettered myself as a student and a confident individual, I have the privilege of writing for pleasure in my free time, and of course, with The Good Five Cent Cigar. Without the independence which I have gained over the past year, I doubt that this passion would have come about so early in my college career. I may not be meeting the Cigar staff in person until the fall, but I have already found my people here at the University of Rhode Island.

COVID has devastated our country and our world; that is an undeniable fact. Amidst this tragedy, I believe that everyone can find pockets of positivity within their individual lives. Rather than dwelling on the months lost, let’s appreciate the new lessons learned, and look forward to the future.