In a world where physical touch happens daily, from a long hug to a simple handshake to a kiss shared between one and their partner, Covid 19 turned the world we know upside down. Suddenly, we were stripped of touching and visiting loved ones and enjoying the simple privileges of life.
One lesson I learned from COVID is not to take anything for granted. As cliche as it sounds, we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. We never realized the privileges we had in daily movements such as going to the park with friends, going to the movies, or even getting drinks at a bar.
Due to COVID, I transitioned from going to school and seeing my teachers face to face to spending endless hours on the computer doing assignments. I missed taking the train from Harlem to Brooklyn and going to school. I missed hanging out with my friends, and I missed being able to hug my family. During this pandemic, I became more depressed and unmotivated to do any work. It felt like a huge weight was on my back and kept me from moving. I would stay in bed all day and sleep because the days seemed to blend. There was no point in being excited about anything because I felt alone and had no one with whom to share my excitement.
The lack of physical interaction has affected not only me mentally, but others as well. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “social distancing has affected the youth’s ability to form quality connections, in addition to increasing their anxiety and depression symptoms.” COVID-19 forced the world to stop and take advantage of the moments we consider “small.”
When I think of privilege during COVID-19, I think of those who were able to get tested early, those who could keep their jobs, and those whose life didn’t change drastically. However, I forgot that it is a privilege to hug my parents, go to the movies, or take the train to work. I am privileged to be in a place where I can express physical affection and have physical interactions with others. I am privileged to wake up in my bed and not a hospital room; I am privileged to have all of my organs working properly and not have to depend on a machine to do the work of a lung or heart. COVID-19 sucked for all the right reasons: sickness and death at drastic rates, political and racial uprisings, and isolation from others; however, it allowed society to think about our privileges and cherish every moment.
Shamya Hill is a food lover and English Major at Medgar Evers College, CUNY.