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OPINION: Social distancing teaches us not to take the little things for granted



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A group of IU students celebrate a birthday over Zoom on March 23 during social distancing. Courtesy Photo

The week before spring break, I had several professors tell me to prepare for a few weeks of online learning. Little did I know that week would turn into the rest of the semester.

The news seemed to hit before anyone could really process what was going on. One day gatherings were limited to 200, then 50, then 10. Everything happened so fast.

Before the social distancing requirements and Indiana’s stay-at-home order, I never truly realized how important the little things in life are. It sounds cliché, I know. But having things you are so accustomed to be taken away from you without warning shifts one’s perspective.

I am thankful to have a safe, stable place to be during this time when the world seems to be turned upside down. There are many people suffering as a result of COVID-19 and America’s response.

But there is a lot I miss about living in a world of normalcy. This quarantine has taught me to view every moment as grand in importance because you never know when it might be taken away from you. 

I did not know the smell of coffee brewing in Starbucks as I tried to figure out how an Excel function works was a sensation that meant so much to me. I miss being overwhelmed by homework but having that space where I could leave my home and feel productive, even if I only actually read one chapter of my textbook.

I miss going to the fifth floor of Wells Library and getting absolutely nothing done, but always seeing someone I had not seen since freshman year and catching up on life. I miss watching the sunset on Kirkwood Ave. as I left the Media School after hours upon hours of classes and meetings.   

I miss being able to look a classmate in the eyes as they talk about something they are passionate about and not through a screen. There is something special about making a person feel seen in a greater-than-physical sense. 

There is so much power in diverse experiences and perspectives. While everyone is feeling the pain and confusion of a global pandemic, each person is going through a different set of emotions and challenges that the pandemic brings.

I asked a few friends what they miss most about living a normal life.

Hearing a friend’s laughter in person. Not having to live in constant fear of a vulnerable loved one getting sick. Being able to turn on the TV and watch an NBA game.

Going to museums, restaurants or the movies. Being in control of their day.

Being able to give someone they love a hug. Witnessing human interaction. Playing spades with friends. Big family game nights.

One friend was falling in love with an international student who had to go back to her home country.

This definitely makes you realize how much being around people you love makes you happy.

After everything is over, I will never take those small moments for granted again.

Jaclyn Ferguson (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and African American studies. She is the secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists at IU.

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