3 Ways to Positively Spin Pandemic Lessons in Your Favor

Harping on how bad the year was will not help you grow.

Dylan Hughes
May 2 · 5 min read

For many people, it has been hard to shake just how bad the COVID-19 pandemic was and still is in some cases. While it is understandable why many people have curled up and cried over the circumstances, succumbing to these circumstances only compounds the issues at hand.

It may make you feel better now, but it won’t help improve the situation.

I am lucky enough to say that I personally haven’t struggled too much during this time. As a recent college graduate, I am thankful to have supportive parents that don’t make me pay rent. I have also had a job throughout the process and was deemed an essential employee. Unlike many, including my dad for a period of time, I have been lucky to make it through the pandemic furlough-free.

The past year hasn’t been without issue, though. I allowed myself to get into personal hell over a girl not wanting to be with me, dragging myself down for over five months. I was blessed to be employed and healthy, but I still wasn’t too happy on a personal level.

After that five-month stretch, I finally pulled myself out of the negative mind frame I was in and started working my way back towards happiness. I started writing more and even published my first book.

As some continue to struggle with pandemic-induced sadness or other issues, I feel the lessons I have learned throughout this process to flip the script could be helpful.

Realize that your condition does not define you.

One of the most helpful things I did in 2020 to try to turn my situation around was by listening to how other people have overcome difficult obstacles. I realized that my situation was not that big of a deal in comparison. I was sad nonetheless and thought hearing their stories would empower me.

Perhaps the best Tedx Talk I watched during this time was that of Sean Stephenson, who was a therapist, author, and motivational speaker before unfortunately passing away due to a concussion in 2019.


Stephenson was born with osteogenesis imperfecta which made him grow to just three feet tall and have brittle bones, forcing him into a wheelchair for his entire life.

Many people would succumb to this condition, and understandably so. But Stephenson recognized that succumbing would only hurt him. He felt he had a purpose on this earth and living a tougher life than others was just part of the deal.

Stephenson discussed the importance of self-love and how the only person that can hold us back from fulfillment and happiness is ourselves. Born with this condition, doctors predicted Stephenson to die within 24 hours. He made it 40 years off of the idea that you shouldn’t ever believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you.

In his talk, Stephenson also drops this gem: “You know what the worst drug to ever hit the human race is? Pity.”

It can be hard for us to get out of our own way and realize that we’re the true problem when it comes to our situation. Life is about adapting, not succumbing. Those who adjust are the ones that find exponential growth.

Instead of harping on all the negatives this pandemic has thrown at you, sift through all that nonsense and pull out the good things it has allowed. Don’t let the pandemic define who you are or what you do.

Get in touch with yourself.

It’s too easy to get lost in the shuffle of life. If we’re not working or drowning in content, we’re spending our time with other people. There is little time to just sit and think about who we are and who we want to be.

We all have time in a day to get to know ourselves a little bit better. But many of us don’t have the interest or think it’s boring.

Thanks to the pandemic and restrictions on the people we can see, there is all the opportunity in the world to practice this.

Sure, meditation or walking around in a forest with no music or podcast blaring in the background could be kind of boring. But it’s also necessary for us to be sure of what we want in life.

Without knowing who we are and what we truly want, making decisions becomes a lot more difficult. Loosely holding to certain morals or a path in general means wasting our time in an area that doesn’t help our growth. It means helping someone else achieve their goals while sacrificing our own.

To recognize that is happening, though, you have to spend some time racking your brain and figuring out what fulfills you.

By knowing these things, it becomes a lot easier to quit jobs, end toxic friendships or relationships, and rid ourselves of any negative factors in our life. Happiness becomes sustainable, perhaps for the first time ever.

It can be difficult, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but practicing self-love is necessary for our growth. Take advantage of the forced alone time and figure out what’s going on inside of you. Maybe even start a journal to track these findings.

Attack free time with reckless abandon.

Health scares like this one always put life into perspective. Time is constantly fleeting. Whether you’re sick or not, your years, months, weeks, days, or hours could be limited. Do you want the last thing you do on this earth to be watching Netflix or scrolling TikTok?

Don’t get me wrong: I love doing both of those activities as well. It is necessary to get away from work for at least a few hours a day and just sit in front of a screen without needing to think about anything. It’s healing if anything.

But you know the saying: everything in moderation.

Maybe one Netflix-induced coma of a day is good every once in a while, but spending all your free time enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labor just doesn’t feel right. Whatever it is that your little heart desires to do can be done. You just have to believe that you can and then start putting in some work.

Work-from-home has become the trend because of the pandemic, giving people more time to work on their passion projects. Whether that is a side hustle or an art project you’ve been wanting to do that has little-to-no financial upside, get to it! Creating something from the heart produces a feeling that will inspire you and even those around you.

And if you fail, don’t give up! Failure is simply a lesson that can be taken and parlayed into the next, better venture. Don’t let the chance of failure limit your attempts towards improvement.

With people getting vaccinated, the pandemic is hopefully close to reaching its final days. There is no better time than now to start chasing your dreams either way.

If you feel like you wasted much of the pandemic languishing in self-doubt or pity, it’s OK. Forgive yourself for past inaction. Today is a new day and a new opportunity to be who you want to be. Why waste any more time on wasted time?

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Dylan Hughes

Written by

Sports Journalism Graduate, IUPUI. Writing about money, business, electric vehicles, and more.

The Ascent

The Ascent is a community of storytellers documenting the journey to a happier and healthier way of living. Join thousands of others making the climb on one of the top publications on Medium.

Dylan Hughes

Written by

Sports Journalism Graduate, IUPUI. Writing about money, business, electric vehicles, and more.

The Ascent

The Ascent is a community of storytellers documenting the journey to a happier and healthier way of living. Join thousands of others making the climb on one of the top publications on Medium.

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