I recently had the pleasure of meeting a young man who is a student returned home from UW-Green Bay. This man, who in my mind is still just a boy, had such an interesting outlook on the COVID pandemic and related quarantine that it actually gave me pause. Conner, a first year business major has, like the majority of his peers, left campus to finish out the school year virtually from the comfort and confines of his home. His move home, like many others, took place immediately prior to the highlight of the collegiate experience- spring break. And, while we all remember being there, where our plans trumped all other things, certainly something as silly as a pandemic, this young man made no mention of the loss during our conversation which, I must admit, I appreciated. Rather than trying to hide my almost uncontrollable desire to scoff at the very idea that college kids have somehow been dealt a raw deal in all of this, I got to do what I do best- ask and listen to how Conner was handling his move back home, his new virtual classroom, and the change to what was likely his very busy, social calendar.
After a few short minutes, my friendly conversation with this college kid, whom I barely knew, turned into a surprising enlightenment of sorts. Apparently, many of Conner’s friends are not handling the change too well. In fact, several of his closest friends admitted to him that they were struggling with being home and learning online. But, that’s not what surprised me. I expect a great number of students are struggling with these changes, and that’s exactly what I thought I’d hear from Conner. But, that’s not at all what he said. Rather than being frustrated with the impact COVID-19 has had on his life, Conner told me that he is using the down time to work on himself and to do all the things that he won’t have time to do once life gets back to normal. While on lock-down, Conner has challenged himself to read a new book each week. He’s developed an at-home work-out plan and is trying to take better care of himself. For all intents and purposes, Conner is using his time “safer at home” to become smarter, stronger and happier at home. He is focused on finding some good in all of this bad, and that moved me.
Listening to this young man, of not even 19, made me feel responsible for finding a bit more joy and contentment in my life than I have in recent weeks, and I challenge you to do the same. Don’t stop growing, improving, learning and planning. Conner hasn’t.