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Crisis vs. Opportunity

“I’ve always wanted to learn music, but I have no time Krish,” “I want to learn creative writing, but I’m too busy Chaitu,” “I want to seriously focus on data science, but I have no time bro.” I think everyone has either said this or they heard it from someone else at least a thousand times. I’ve heard people saying things like this in high school , and I’ve heard it in college. When quarantine started, I was really excited for those people because everyone is getting at least one month of free time to reinvent themselves, and do all the things they claimed they didn’t have time for. Even though the pandemic hurt so many people, it gave many others free time to explore themselves, their passions, and their path in life.

I called a few of my friends who had told me they wanted to do something, if only they had more time, to see what they were up to during quarantine, with hopes that they were finally able to seize the day and do whatever it was they couldn’t do before. Unfortunately I did this with no avail. I asked my friends what they were doing to hear responses such as “nothing much, binging Netflix.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to the rabbit hole that is Netflix shows, but I was surprised to hear that people were getting all of the precious time that they never seemed to have before, and wasting it on Netflix and Prime. I get it, the situation at hand is not ideal. We can’t go outside, we have to stay home all day, people are sick and tired, and motivation is scarce; however, we cannot let that get in the way of our growth.

Around March 15th all of our universities switched to online learning, and we were all thinking we’d go back to school in a month’s time, but the situation took a turn for the worse. Our day-to-day lifestyle was changing, and I was changing with it. Stuck at home all day, with nobody to talk to, I became far quieter than I had ever been. Changes like becoming one of the leaders of the Linux User Group at UIC made me start thinking of ways to explore myself, find out just how much I can push myself to grow. As soon as break started, I promised myself that I would not pass up this opportunity because I know that I will never get this time back, and personally, I don’t want to get it back either. Here’s a few things that helped me make good use of summer break in quarantine.

Tip 1: Make a weekly planner. All of you who use daily planners, that’s great, but for people like me who wake up and go to bed at different times everyday, it’s not the most efficient way to set goals for yourself. At the beginning of every week, write down all the targets you have for the week to come. Make sure the goals aren’t too broad: make them specific.

Tip 2: Make sure at least one of your goals forces you to be creative every week. Personally, my goal is to write at least 500 words of fiction each week, but your goal can be different, depending on your creative outlet. Being creative helps to equip you with the mental tools necessary to approach a problem or challenge from every angle, increases your confidence, and generally makes life more interesting and fulfilling, so make sure to add at least one creative target to your weekly planner.

Tip 3: Allow yourself some entertainment. I am in no way telling you to put your complete focus on just your career and goals. Let yourself watch Netflix, read, or watch a movie, but just make sure it doesn’t impede on the time you spend being productive.

Tip 4: Challenge yourself everyday. Nothing is easy, but nothing is impossible either: it’s all about perspective. Always challenge yourself to be a better person than you were yesterday, it is a foolproof way to grow as a person.

Tip 5: Reflect! Nobody knows who you are and what you did better than yourself, so at the end of every week, make sure to think back to what you accomplished that week, give yourself a pat on the back, and challenge yourself to do more the next week. This is another infallible way to learn to understand yourself and evolve.

Writer William Arthur Ward once said, “adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” This is not an easy time for any of us: we’re all stuck at home because of the pandemic, bored out of our minds, missing our friends, missing our family, longing for company besides the one you’ve been stuck at home with for three months. Everyone is facing their own set of challenges, but the connection between all of us is that we have been given a chance to explore ourselves and what we could be. I want us to be able to look this adversity in the eye, and instead of letting it break us, I want us to break every record and expectation we’ve set for ourselves. And so, I leave you with one final question: Are you going to treat this as a crisis, or an opportunity? 


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