The Unexpected Upsides of Social Distancing

Blossoms in front of the Phoenix Theatre. Photo my own.

Any piece of writing about the positives of our situation right now runs the risk of sounding incredibly tone-deaf. I don’t want to write the MyUVicLife version of the chipper, sanitized Pinterest post about positive attitudes and quarantine productivity that only induces eye-rolls and mutterings of “oh, the privilege.”

No one wants to hop on the blogging soapbox and proclaim to an audience that has lost so much that there are still “awesome opportunities” to be found in the midst of crisis. COVID-19 has ripped any sense of normalcy and stability from all of us. UVic students are mourning a highly-anticipated co-op placement, a spring convocation, a summer of high earnings and Saturdays at Thetis Lake. From some, COVID-19 has taken more than others.

For many of us, we have lost important milestones, but we’ve been lucky enough to keep a sense of normalcy. Now more than ever, a safe home, an internet connection, and the company of a roommate or family is an incredible privilege. To be safe at home is a blessing, and on days when the sun is streaming through the windows, dogs are pulling at their leashes, and the birds are starting to chirp in the cherry trees, it almost feels like normal again. When life has been slowed to a crawl, the little things that make us happy stick out and shine a little brighter.

Whether you’re lucky enough to be working from home, spending more time with your family, or simply enjoying your free time after a busy semester, UVic students have found the bright sides even in hard times. Here are their most unexpected plus sides to this unprecedented situation:

“I am an only child and my friends are like my brothers and sisters. Not being able to see them in person has allowed me to do a lot of self-reflecting on who I am as a person. The most positive thing that I have gotten out of quarantine is spending time with my parents. This time has really made me appreciate having such a loving support at home.”
– Judy, Indigenous Studies and Elementary Education, class of 2023.

“When I first found out that my summer job had been cancelled, I was devastated. But as a true testament to the ‘I’d love to do x if I had the time’ principle, I’ve found solace in tackling projects to help further my career as an aspiring writer, giving greater attention to fitness and valuing this time spent with my family.”
– Marley, Creative Writing, class of 2020.

“I get to spend way more time with my cat and she’s so happy that I don’t leave for school anymore.”
– Liv, Political Science, class of 2023.

“I’ve really enjoyed researching new and different career paths. Because of COVID-19, so many courses are now free! I downloaded a (now free) UX design masterclass and took all the courses.”
– Ashley, Theatre, class of 2021.

“Bread. Bread is the plus side of quarantine.”
– Anonymous, Business, class of 2022.

“With the Vikes Womens’ Rowing program there was always someone there to cheer you thorough your last erg piece, spot you in the weights room, or catch up on a workout together. Although I miss seeing my teammates in person, staying connected virtually with the team has motivated me to explore new ways of training, like adding yoga and road cycling to my practice. With updates from friends on the latest routes they’ve ridden, new recipes they’ve tried, or helpful skills they’ve picked up, it’s easier to stay inspired at home.”
– Kirsten, Bio-Psych, class of 2022

“I have enjoyed the chance to slow down and relax after a very busy semester.”
– Parus, Child and Youth Care, class of 2023.

“I was used to being in the pool 10 times a week and in the weight room 3 times a week. We were supposed to have Olympic Trials at the beginning of April, but this pandemic threw that out the window. This whole thing has given me the time to reflect and remember how fortunate I have been to be a part of something amazing like swimming. I have also gotten to really connect and talk to my friends and family more which is a huge bonus.”
– Danielle, Psychology, class of 2021.

“I have a ton of free time since I just graduated and can’t get a job until September, so I bought a puppy and spend all day with her!”
– Rachel, Education, class of 2020.

Rachel’s new puppy! Photo by Rachel Hope.

“Being an athlete during quarantine has certainly had its challenges but it’s also given me a variety of new opportunities. Instead of putting all my energy towards soccer, I’ve used my free time to do a lot of different activities such as running, biking, golfing, yoga, and weight lifting in my backyard. I’ve been eating better and getting more sleep at night. I’m feeling very healthy and enjoying this new lifestyle, but I can’t wait to be back on the soccer field working hard with my teammates!”
– Rees, Psychology, class of 2022.

“I’m not sure how interesting this is, but ever since I can remember, I’ve bit my fingernails and since the quarantine started, I made it a goal of mine to stop, and I haven’t done it since. Kind of a weird story but it took a lot of will power, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to stop a bad habit that had plagued my life for so long.”
– Quinn, Theatre, class of 2021.

“The best part about quarantine is watching old Bill Hader SNL sketches with my dad over our morning tea.”
– Lindsey, Theatre and Hispanic Studies, class of 2020.

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