Column: I am focusing on gratitude while adjusting to a new normal during the pandemic

Lauren Perry
Oxford Stories

It’s crazy to think how one thing, as small as a virus, took our precious world and turned it upside down overnight. The mention of COVID-19 brings up many emotions. Worry, stress, hope, and appreciation are all things I’ve experienced within the past month.

Uncharted times come with many unknowns, but what I do know is the importance of staying grateful for what we do have and continuing to do our parts daily. 

I first came to realize the severity that is COVID-19 during my spring break trip with my friends. We had driven down to Isle of Palms for a girls beach trip, in dire need of some rest and relaxation. COVID-19 was quite honestly one of the last things on my mind as I spent my days at the beach without a care in the world.

This naive mindset was quickly kicked to the curb about five days into the trip when we all realized we had to return to our hometowns for the remainder of the semester.

Looking back, I believe I was in a state of denial during the days I spent packing before returning home due to the virus and school closure. I remember thinking that everything would return to normal within a few weeks, and life would go on like usual, which I now know is simply not the case.

I was quickly brought back to reality when I returned home and was surrounded by the constant reminder of the increasingly high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths across the world. I felt as though I had no control, our world had been turned upside down overnight, and there was nothing I could do to help. 

Since returning back to my home in Austin, Texas during the middle of my spring semester at the University of Mississippi, everything I once viewed as my “routine” has completely changed. I personally view the transition of classes being moved from in person to online as a bit of a difficulty for both the university faculty and students.

I’m pursuing a degree in art with an emphasis in graphic design and a minor in journalism, so the structure of the majority of my classes has changed completely. I would consider myself the type of student who thrives off of hands-on learning and in person assistance from my professors, so this shift has definitely affected the way of learning that I know works best for me.

On a more personal level, I view the changes being made in my life due to the COVID-19 situation to be quite profound and unexpected. This past month in isolation has helped put many things in my life into perspective, which was something I didn’t even know I needed so badly.

I feel as though I’m learning new things every day in an environment that I once viewed as a “cage” in a sense. I’m now able to spend my days doing things I enjoy, all while keeping my mindset in a positive space. 

My brain is about as left-sided as it gets, so being able to practice my passion for all things creative, such as painting, drawing, and reading during this quarantine has been such an unexpected gift.

With all of this said, not every day is sunshine and rainbows. Aside from the obvious COVID-19 and the reality of its devastation, miniscule troubles, such as living in a house with family members on different work schedules in each other’s business seem much larger than they once were. It’s simple human nature for problems to arise while being cooped up and deprived of the many things we once cherished.

During troublesome times, it’s way too easy to get caught up in a constant negative headspace. To be completely honest, my current journey trying to learn how to balance my positive and negative thoughts changes every day.

One day I feel as though I’m filled with hope for a better tomorrow, filled with the wishful thinking of being able to wake up to a cure and for life to go back to normal.

Other days I wake up fearful for what more is to come from this global pandemic and if we will ever make it out.

I then remind myself that the wide range of emotions I’m experiencing is completely normal. I mean, I’m human, and overthinking is what I do best. 

One of my most important takeaways thus far has been the importance of appreciating the things in life that we have as opposed to thinking of what all has been taken away. Getting outside and going for a run or just simply being in nature completely changes my mood.

I’ve found that filling my days in quarantine with activities that bring me joy allow for a healthy mindset with very minimal space for negative thoughts. 

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down in a way no one could have seen coming. My personal experience throughout all of this has been nothing short of a roller coaster, and I’m sure many others would say the same.

With each day, we’re given new obstacles and new tools to help overcome them. We must continue to stay positive, show support, and help in any way we can.

Lauren Perry
Lauren Perry

Lauren Perry, 21, is an art major who has lived in Austin, Texas for 14 years. Prior to that, she lived in California and Canada. She loves spending time with friends. 

Due to growing up hearing “If you don’t cook, you clean” from her mom, she got tired of doing dishes and decided to learn how to cook. To her surprise, cooking is now one of her biggest passions. Perry has an 18-pound cat, Zoey, who has been her best girl since kindergarten, so naturally she brought her to Oxford.

Perry’s guilty pleasures include every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Cherry Garcia ice cream, pot roast, and sleeping in as late as humanly possible on the weekends.

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