Beauty from ashes: looking for the positive after COVID-19

Reading Time: 2 minutes Horrific things came out of the pandemic. Yet what can we learn, and how can we grow from it?

A bee lands on a flower. Half of the picture is gray and half is colored.Reading Time: 2 minutes

With COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, society has been busy moving forward and picking up the pieces that were left in the wake of the pandemic. However, it is no secret that COVID-19 caused global destruction and scarred the lives of millions. 

According to Statista, “COVID-19 … spread to almost every country and territory around the world, infect[ed] millions of people and devastat[ed] the global economy.” Additionally, Statista shares the harrowing statistic, “As of January 9, 2023, the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide had reached almost 669 million. In addition, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was 6.7 million.” The majority of these deaths were reported from the United States, Statista explained. 

In light of this suffering and devastation, it would be inappropriate for society to ignore or forget what happened. However, as society moves forward, rather than focusing on the negative of the pandemic, can we reflect on and learn from it instead? The adage penned by bestselling author Michael Hopf would suggest so: “Hard times create strong men.”

Lori Peters, business administrator of recreation and wellness at UVU, agreed with this sentiment. Peters shared the story of a UVU student (name withheld for anonymity), who was a junior in high school during the pandemic. “I asked him specifically how he felt, how did COVID affect him, and how did he feel now?” Peters recounted. “It hit that point when he got COVID in the middle of December, and he was stuck in his room, isolating. And it was more than enough time for him to stop and think.” 

“I feel like that was a wake-up call for me … and I realized then how important it was to have [person-to-person] social contact,” Peters recounted the student saying. Peters continued the story by explaining that the student elected to delete social media, resumed healthy exercise habits at the gym, and tried to socialize more in person. “He felt like [the pandemic] instigated more activity in his life because he missed out,” Peters concluded. 

Jonah Walker, a UVU freshman studying psychology, explained his experience with the pandemic. “I was still in high school when COVID hit. It was my sophomore year, and I went to a high school that none of my other friends had gone to … so I was [a] super not-social kid sophomore year,” Walker stated. “So for me, [the pandemic] was kind of different. [But] then coming back, I just grew up a little bit over that time and figured that I shouldn’t live in the past.” Walker concluded that a positive effect of the pandemic was helping him transition between difficult stages in his life. 

Ivet Pimemtel, a UVU student studying public relations, explained that “having in-person classes helps me with keeping track of what I am supposed to do.” To Pimemtel, academic goals became more achievable once normal class functions resumed. 

When originally asked about her opinion regarding the negative effects of COVID-19 on students, Peters politely declined. “We can’t put a negative out there. [As a society] we are allowing that [negative attitude] to continue to hurt us.” Instead, Peters suggests that we talk about what we gained from the pandemic and how we have grown from the experience. 

Now as society leaves the pandemic behind and looks to the future, we are all faced with a choice: wallow in the negativity of the past or learn from it and face the future. The decision is yours to make.