Friday, March 13, 2020 is the day the world turned upside down for many people. The day people were released early from work. Kids were released early from school. College students got extended spring break, were sent home, and were unknowingly all unanimously enrolled in what one YouTuber called, “Zoom University.” For many in the city of Atlanta, it was the last day they would sit in much dreaded traffic for a while. The news that followed in the subsequent days was filled with fear as news anchors encouraged people not to panic, but what was all this panic about?
The beginning of the year 2020 started as many often do, with high hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions, and anticipation. The year was filled with expectation, excitement, and new beginnings. Some had plans to travel the world with friends, have the wedding of their dreams, start a business, take a long anticipated vacation, graduate from high school or college, or they may have just been excited to hit restart on the previous year. These may seem like normal plans that nothing could hinder, but the unpredictable happened.
News of the novel coronavirus, later named COVID-19, filled the airwaves and the death toll of countries around the world, specifically China and Italy, were reported daily. For many in the United States, this seemed like a far-fetched disease that would never reach their doorstep. Americans never imagined that the threat of a deadly virus would reach the United States. Around late February, the coronavirus had made its way to the United States and things were about to change very quickly.
After reports came in about the virus reaching America and spreading quickly throughout the United States things began to close. As March rolled in, reports came in that a well-known basketball player had contracted the virus, and he had recently been recorded facetiously touching microphones, towels, and chairs during a break at a basketball game. Shortly after this report came out, the National Basketball Association, Major Basketball League, and all other professional sports, including the 2020 Olympics were cancelled until further notice.
As various businesses and organizations began to close, this put things in perspective. People began to vacate offices and recede to their respective corners to prepare for the fight of their lives. All non-essential stores were closed – these included malls, nail salons, barber shops, movie theatres, bowling alleys, amusement parks, nightclubs, bars, and all recreation activities came to a halt. Essential businesses such as hospitals, grocery stores, and some restaurants remained open. All non-essential travel was ill-advised and frowned upon.
The initial response was a panic shopping frenzy. People were released from work and went straight to the stores. The filled their shopping carts with everything they thought they would need for the coming month. Social distancing orders were put in place to influence people to stay at least six feet apart when shopping or in public places. Government authorities went further to put shelter-in-place orders in effect. This meant that not only the United States, but most of the world was now in quarantine. What did this mean for the world as we know it? What did this mean for business owners and college students? What did this mean for working parents? What did any of this mean?
For many, there was a feeling of disbelief, panic, and worry as they bum-rushed the stores to stockpile groceries and toilet tissue. Fear gripped many as they bunkered down in their homes and made plans to shelter-in-place. Many jobs closed indefinitely, and this left many people unemployed and wondering where their next check would come from and how they would feed their families. Many parents heavily relied on school sponsored meals to feed their kids during the day, but now they would have to find a way to feed their children with what seems like no money.
While this was true for so many parents across the nation, schools, non-profits, churches, and many other organizations did their very best to ensure that children and families did not go hungry. The unemployed were able to file for unemployment to receive funds, and the government even sent out stimulus checks to help with some of the financial burden. Many even stated that they made more unemployed than when they were working a steady job.
For others, this all seemed like a huge overreaction. Some chose to remain cautiously optimistic. While they were now newly confined to their homes without all their normal social outlets, they chose to take advantage of this “free time.” They chose to use this time wisely and be productive with this time that they seemingly never had before. They chose to read books that they never had time to read before, pick up a new hobby, learn a new instrument, finally clean out that coat closet, and donate that pile of clothes that had been laying around since Christmas.
Although stuck at home, some found this time refreshing. Some say they find themselves waking up early daily when they might have chosen to spend the weekend in bed before. Many have stated that they find comfort in routine. Shane Whatley, smart home expert and YouTube personality, discussed on The Deep End Design podcast that he finds it helpful shower and dress as if he is going out to stay in a productive mood.
New foster mom, Tanya, stated that she is blessed to have a new, beautiful baby boy in her care. Quarantine has given her the time to get organized and focus on her spiritual and physical wellbeing. Tanya stated, “Quarantine has helped me to reset my life, and to have a new vision for my business and financial goals. It has also helped me to see how much more value should be placed on socializing, especially with family.” Before this pandemic, we may have taken social outings and family time for granted, now we have much more space than we ever asked for. May we never be ungrateful and valueless again.
Jasmine, mom to a one-year old son, said, “Quarantine has given me a new perspective and has helped me set personal goals for myself.” While she has been working from home during this pandemic, some good has come out of it – she got a closing date on her new home. Although her days start at 7:30 am with her one year old up with his internal alarm clock, she has plans to start her own business and be self-employed by this time next year.
The last example of fresh perspective is Courtney. She works at a very rough, alternative school, but she has found ways to focus on the positive and value mental health days from school. Courtney was accepted into grad school, has explored new interest in unconventional ways, and talked to people she would never have otherwise. Courtney said, “The quarantine has had its mixes of good and bad. I feel like I appreciate a lot more now.” A shift in your perspective can make anything look different.
In closing, let us all take a page out of Mary Poppins’ book. In the movie Mary Poppins Returns, every second Wednesday, her cousin, Topsy’s world literally turned upside down. Topsy is well known for her fixing capabilities, but on these days, she refused to fix anything because everything was out of sorts. When Topsy stands on her head she realizes that she can see everything right side up. Mary Poppins said, “When the world turns upside down, the best thing to do is to turn right along with it.”
It is true that circumstances may be bad, and things may never be “normal” again, but maybe that is not a bad thing. Maybe we will put more value into building strong, meaningful relationships. Maybe we will be grateful for the little things, like food or being able to hug your loved ones. Maybe we will value the quiet and not avoid it. Maybe we will use time more wisely. Maybe we can make sure some good comes out of such an unsettling time. In the words of Mary Poppins, “When you change the view from where you stood, the things you view will change for good.” It’s all in your perspective.