An electronic billboard orders travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days if they travel away from home due during the coronavirus pandemic. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

How the Coronavirus Taught Me a Valuable Lesson

When we leave quarantine, it is important to not slip back into old habits.

When I wrote my New Year’s resolutions down for 2020, learning to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was not one of them. Nevertheless, this is something that I and billions of people have had to face with various levels of difficulty. The past few weeks have not been a piece of cake. Dealing with social distancing, sibling rivalry and a broken kitchen has not made me a happier person, to say the least. Despite all of this, here is how COVID-19 taught me a lesson.

I know that many teens can relate to the overwhelming amount of exposure that comes with using social media. There has not been one moment where I have not seen a post, story or video about the subject. Even on Shabbat, when my family unplugs from technology, most newspaper articles revolve around the devastating effects of coronavirus. It is depressing to see how much life has been turned upside down, especially in just a span of a few weeks. 

Yet, it is interesting to think that this pandemic has led me to think deeper, find motivation and truly appreciate all I have been given. School used to be something I dreaded attending; all I wanted was to sleep through my alarms and avoid dull, boring school work. Now, I would give so much to go back—to hug my friends, laugh with my teachers and value the skills taught in class. Coronavirus has taught me to hold on to my family members and value the time spent with them. I have spent a lot of my free time on social media, watching other people go on adventures, try new things, and live their lives. Now, I regret making the most of my opportunities while I had the chance.

In the face of the coronavirus, it may seem that there is not much hope, and it is emotionally draining to be isolated in a house all day.  Although it may not seem favorable, there are ways to keep yourself busy and happy. Take the time that you never had while you were moving through life too fast. Spend time with family, make time to sleep more, make time to eat healthily, and make time for exercise. I highly recommend reaching out to friends through Zoom or Facetime to make up for the lack of social interaction. Continuing to participate in clubs and extracurricular activities is important as well. Usually, I would be attending Jewish Student Union meetings after school. Instead, I participate in organized Zoom meetings every week. Checking to see if there are any clubs utilizing online video calling can help fill the void of socializing in person.

Learn from my mistakes. Do not get caught up in life that is idealized and often misleading on screen. And when we leave quarantine, it is important to not slip back into old habits but to look at life through a brighter lens. We should soak up the time we have—life is too short to take things for granted. Do the things you love, because you never know when they might be taken away from you.

Laila Friedman is a sophomore at East Brunswick High School.

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