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Opinion: Students should embrace lessons from pandemic, avoid taking life for granted

(Katelyn Dang/Daily Bruin)

By Hayden Carroll

May 31, 2021 12:19 p.m.

This post was updated May 31 at 6:21 p.m.

It’s time to start seizing the moment.

This is the first time in over a year that it’s safe, or at least a lot safer, to do what we once took for granted. Thanks to continued vaccination efforts, many places in the country are lifting pandemic-related restrictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recently put out new recommendations that allow fully inoculated people to reduce their mask usage.

While we aren’t in the clear just yet, the return to “normal” is an exciting prospect.

Every day, more people can finally return to the theaters or once again get coffee with friends. We now have the option to eat inside of restaurants and visit family we may not have seen for a long time. Bruins should take full advantage of their newfound freedom to pursue the opportunities they may have missed because of the pandemic, with the understanding that things may not stay this way.

After spending so long indoors, some people already know what they want to do. For Soman Khan, it’s attending concerts.

“I used to be a big concert guy,” said Khan, a fourth-year biology student. “That’s something that I’m going to want to take part in again. Just the idea of being around a group of people and being able to talk to new people, meet new people.”

No matter the event, Khan, as well as other Bruins, will hopefully have the opportunity to revisit past experiences and encounter new ones very soon. We will have the chance to see our favorite artists in concert for the first time or maybe for the fifth. We can also try out for a new team sport or join a club we’ve always wanted to be a part of once we get to campus.

Victoria Marks, associate dean of academic affairs for the School of the Arts and Architecture, said the paradigm-shifting nature of the pandemic, as well as the racial reckoning and other events of the past year, has allowed people to reexamine their daily lives.

“Why put off something I’m longing for? Because I don’t know what the future will bring,” Marks said. “The future is much less certain than it was before (and) my perception of futurity is different.”

Things that maybe once did not seem very important may now bear a new sense of urgency. Going on a faraway trip or attending a baseball game may have been items to add to a never-ending bucket list. Now they should be activities we eagerly pursue.

And after so many months of isolation and hardship, we should do these things with our loved ones – but only if we feel safe doing so.

João Guassi Moreira, a developmental psychology doctoral student, said he expects some people will jump at the prospect of returning to what life was like prior to the pandemic as regulations are lifted. He added that some people are planning events to take place right when regulations ease, while some people will continue to wait.

It’s valid that people may still feel uneasy. Although COVID-19 vaccines are now available and many people are being vaccinated, there is reason to worry about what the future will hold. It is unclear whether vaccinations will help protect people from COVID-19 for the long haul or if booster shots and other vaccinations will be needed in the future, possibly even yearly. As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, there is also uncertainty over how well our current vaccines will protect people against new threats.

Although the degree to which the pandemic has affected people varies, it’s likely not a stretch to say that many have changed their perspectives on the world because of it. These changes will impact our futures and should push us to do the things we once dreamed of accomplishing.

Whether or not people continue to wait it out or begin to return to pre-pandemic activities, it is important to remember what this time in our lives has taught us: If you want to go see a band in concert or visit a faraway place, make it happen. Don’t just put it off because it takes planning or because you believe you will have another chance down the road.

Life is short. We need to spend it meeting new people, challenging ourselves and discovering what the world has to offer.

After all, our futures are increasingly uncertain. Wildfires, high rates of food insecurity, climate change and the likelihood of future pandemics or a resurgence of the current one are all pressing issues that are currently impacting our world. It is important to keep these things in mind as opportunities begin to emerge for people to do the things they love once again.

It’s unclear what our post-pandemic world will look like. Many will probably be eager to move on, but that doesn’t mean we should forget the lessons we’ve learned. Let’s carry them with us and forge a better and more fulfilling world for ourselves and others.

There is no guarantee we’ll be here tomorrow. So we must seize today for everything it’s worth and more.

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Hayden Carroll
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