Even in the midst of a crisis, Texas A&M students are finding the time to be grateful.
From having an open schedule to work on puzzles to the ability to stay in touch with friends, Aggies are remembering that while shelter-in-place may have a negative effect on everyone, it can still have positive outcomes.
One of these outcomes includes the ways in which people have fought against isolation. Chemistry senior Kristel Forlano said she has noticed the shelter-in-place motivating people to intentionally create and maintain community.
“I’m mostly thankful for the sense of community we’ve gotten out of this whole situation,” Forlano said. “I have conversations over Zoom with all my organizations. I talk to more people now that I haven’t talked to in years. It’s been nice seeing how much people have been brought together.”
The shelter-in-place has also forced family members to spend more time together than their usual schedules would allow. Interdisciplinary engineering senior Daniel Hartman said he is thankful for the extra time he has to spend with his loved ones.
“I’m getting time to spend with my family,” Hartman said. “I’m getting to invest in relationships with my parents and my in-laws that I wouldn’t have gotten to.”
Students also shared the specific actions they have taken to keep a positive attitude in what could be a very dark and discouraging time. Communication junior Emma Kate Wimberly said maintaining a routine has been invaluable for her.
“I really try to keep myself on a schedule,” Wimberly said. “I still talk to the people I normally talk to: my family, my friends. I’ve been staying pretty involved with my church. But I think the best thing for me is to make things as close to what they were before this all started.”
Hartman said the ability to stay in touch with people normally sees in person through online means has helped him stay in good spirits. He said having more time and opportunities to read the Bible has also been a key factor in staying positive despite his circumstances.
“When I get the chance and when I’m getting stressed out, I’m definitely just reading the Bible more than I have been,” Hartman said. “I’ve [also] been able to access the community online through Zoom and Discord and any online medium that lets me meet up with people I normally see in person.”
Besides a better sense of community and getting to spend more time with family, the shelter-in-place has also brought out an appreciation for seemingly insignificant opportunities. For Forlano, this takes the form of having extra time to devote to a hobby.
“I’m grateful for the amount of time I have gotten to spend working on puzzles,” Forlano said. “I am a huge puzzle-lover, and I have gotten through so, so many puzzles from 500 to 3,000 pieces; I’ve done like eight of them.”
One small opportunity Wimberly is grateful for involves her living situation. Since she lives in a house, she has enjoyed the ability to go outside to do her schoolwork.
“Getting to have a backyard and a front porch to just sit on and do my work has been the best,” Wimberly said. “I know that people who live in apartments don’t quite have the same thing. Having a little of my own outdoor space has been so good for me.”
The students also offered advice to those who may be struggling to see the good aspects of their life right now. Despite the tendency for people to focus on what is going wrong, Hartman said it is important to focus on the small positives instead.
“Even if you lost a lot to the quarantine, I think there’s always something that you can focus on that you have, even if it’s a little thing,” Hartman said. “Humans are really good at focusing on the small negatives instead of the big positives. If the positives have gotten smaller, focus on the small positives, even if there are big negatives.”
Forlano advised people to keep in mind that the current situation will not last forever.
“Remember that nothing is permanent,” Forlano said. “As a species, as humans, we are always changing, and our world is always developing. We’re going to get through this. We just need to remember that how it is right now is not how it’s going to be in the future.”