By Connor Lannen
Snapchat memories full of naivety have flooded my phone since the start of March. First, there were the videos from Spring Break where COVID-19 was merely a joke and the reality of our lives being affected by this virus was the last thing on our minds.
Next, came the “Schools cancelled for two weeks!” memories and meeting up with friends in a public setting for what we did not know would be the last time. Soon after, a video of my friend Spencer and I, going on our last hike before finally coming to the realization of how serious this whole thing was.
One year ago today.
Soon I’ll receive the memories of the awkward Zoom calls and total isolation that was felt over the next couple of months. We were all simultaneously thrown into a world of chaos and confusion. It hit different people at different times but that dark isolated feeling is something that at least everyone I know, struggled through.
I don’t even need to look at those snapchat memories to remember how it felt. That feeling will stick with me forever. The disappointment, the fear, and the pain that COVID-19 brought on our world, will not be a fleeing feeling.
The past year has changed me mightly. I’ve grown at such a rapid rate without really taking the time to look back and reflect. There were good things that came out of COVID-19 and for me to just take the entire past year and look at the pain is ignorant.
Our society put a new emphasis on mental health and the importance of family. People learned how to be alone, people started businesses, found their passions and created great things.
To look back on the year and think about how far I’ve come as a friend, as a son, and as a person brings me joy. I created such deep bonds with people I would have never imagined because of the hard times that we went through together.
I found a love for music that I never knew existed, I found a love for travel that I never knew I needed and I found a love for nature that I never knew was so important. I learned how to work hard and how to stand in the face of adversity.
Sitting on my couch and watching videos of Jimi Hendrix playing at The Fillmore, with my dad is something that I will look back on fondly in 40 years. The late night talks I had with my old man about what I want my future to look like and the important lessons he learned growing up, are talks that I took for granted.
I sat on the edge of a mountain outside of Yellowstone National Park and woke up to the sound of the rapid river flowing and a sunrise so spectacular that words do not do it justice. I spent two weeks traveling the west coast with three of the best damn people I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around.
Most of all, I learned to appreciate the simplicity of life and how to become a more accepting and compassionate human. We are all human and although there were many times where the world felt divided as ever, I learned to love people for the differences we have.
Is college the right thing for everyone? No. Is having a huge group of friends that you are extremely connected with, what everyone wants? No. I used to have an idea in my head of how life should be and I would subconsciously judge people when they told me plans that didn’t match my idea of how life should be.
Now, I have learned to be present in conversations with people who don’t have a whole lot in common with me and learn from the way that they look at life. Why should anyone else’s quest for happiness and satisfaction affect me?
That’s really what life is, a quest to find happiness and satisfy your soul. For some people that is a decent paying, stable, 9-5 job. For some people, that is finding a way to travel the world with little to no responsibilities. For some people that is settling down early and building a family to love.
There is no right answer, we are all just a bunch of kids at heart, trying to figure out this crazy concept of life.
This year was the hardest year of my life and I was fully prepared to sit down and write a deep analysis about the struggles I went through. However, the more I thought about those struggles, the more gratitude I found for the moments that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.
Instead of trying to block out this past year from my memories and summing it up as the worst year of my life, I want to think back at the positive aspects I learned from this year that will help me move forward in life.
I want to sit and tell my kids the things I learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and tell them the emotions that came out of me rather than depicting it in a horrific way. It is something that our entire world should be able to bond over.
As those snapchat memories continue to appear, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to appreciate the little things that happen in life and hold an appreciation for how much I grew as a human.