The phrase “hindsight is 2020” has a whole new meaning. It will always refer to one of the worst years our world has ever experienced, and for good reason. However, like most tragic events, there are lessons to be learned. Whatever way you find personal growth in this period is awesome. If it got you over your last girlfriend, good for you. One common lesson we’ve all experienced during this pandemic is a redefinition of our values. What do we need? What do we want? What to buy? What to sell? What’s important and what isn’t? Even if you aren’t sure how to articulate your growth, don’t worry. Here are a few lessons you can tell people you learned.


Remember all that panic-buying at the beginning of the pandemic? That hysteria and lack of common sense that led people to fight over toilet paper? An embarrassing moment for humanity, but an important reminder to take the necessary time to stock up on essential items. Whether in a crisis or not, you now know what you really need and really don’t. Need: a steady supply of hand soap. Don’t need: 60 packs of instant ramen. Once the pandemic is done, don’t slip back into your old habits of not buying enough and having to run back to the grocery store, or buying too much and throwing away a bunch of food out. As we’ve spent more time and money at the supermarket and less at the restaurant, we have been cooking in mass. We’ve been trying new foods or dishes we never would have spent the time on previously. These new and improved skills, smarter shopping, better cooking, have made us all more self-reliant. America may be known for convenience, but hopefully, more people know how to do a few basics things themselves.  


Another lesson the pandemic has taught us: our ability to keep busy. No longer were we able to spend hours swiping away on Tinder looking for a casual hookup (well we could have but there wasn’t really any point). No longer could we hit the gym multiple times a week. If you’re an extrovert, you probably spent a good amount of that hard-earned cash on going out with your friends. We couldn’t do that either. Guess what? Life went on.

You don’t need anyone else to stay in shape. Get rid of that gym membership and sign up for online Zoom classes. Having the ability to exercise from home is convenient and if you make a mistake you’re not embarrassing yourself in front of hot people. There are tons of resources about the best workouts to do from the comfort of your own home. This results in less time spent driving back and forth to the gym, and more time actually exercising.

Does it suck not to be able to go out with your friends? Of course. Have you spoken to your friends since March? Of course, you probably spoke to one yesterday, albeit on the phone. Technology is in no way a substitution for real human communication, and because it isn’t as fulfilling as real communication, we get tired of it faster. We’ve all probably been communicating less overall. We’ve spoken to our friends, our family, our colleagues less than normal. That sounds a bit sad, but think about it, are you staring longingly out the window? Are you sleeping in the middle of the day?  Probably not. More likely, life has gone on without you boring yourself to death. This isn’t to stay you should remain a hermit all your life, but you now know that if necessary, you can stay busy, healthy, and entertained all on your own.


Think back to early March 2020. Scrolling through your social feed, it became clear the world would shut down. You panicked, called your loved ones, and probably went to bed wondering how the outside world would look the next day. Totally normal, but like with any unexpected circumstance, you have to pull through. It’s nerve-wracking to deal with situations that are out of your control. Take that nervous energy and focus it towards work that you can control. If you have a project due at the end of the week, focus on that. Have you been meaning to switch out the light bulbs in your apartment? Tackle that! Are clients losing interest in your work? Use that nervous energy to figure out why and how to fix it. The world is guaranteed to throw curve balls into your life, but you’ve now made it through a global pandemic. If you weathered that, then is there really anything you can’t do? The past year has been one long lesson on how to harness stress and turn it into something positive.  

Cooking, budgeting, self-reliance, and stress management are pretty good lessons. No matter what you’ve spent the pandemic doing, you are sure to have learned something, even if you might not realize it yet.