By Kailey Shanks |

Picture this: a family sits down for dinner while the TV screen flashes news updates. In just an hour, all sports seasons are canceled and celebrities are falling ill. There’s no toilet paper anywhere and no one can figure out why this suddenly became such a precious resource. 

No, this isn’t a Black Mirror episode; it was what my family and I witnessed last week. The coronavirus halted sports leagues, closed restaurants, forced the loss of jobs and a shifted students to online school. It was easy for me to think about how my life would change because of the pandemic. 

The extra week off after Baylor University extended Spring Break didn’t seem appealing anymore. 

I thought of The Bearathon and how that upcoming half marathon would have to wait. I got agitated that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my friends. How would visiting one friend affect a pandemic? I neglected to realize how staying home saves lives and keeps hospitals from being overwhelmed. As time went on, my thinking expanded. 

I thought of college seniors who had to say goodbye to their campus too soon. 

I thought of the people supporting families who have lost their jobs and the healthcare workers who are risking their health to serve others. 

I thought of victims of the virus and the people in countries where the outbreak is more severe. 

I also thought about how my friend Emilia sent me an article about how domestic violence increases during times of financial crisis. It explains how stress is taken out more quickly on others when there is no outlet like work or sports. I thought about how these victims are now in danger. 

Yesterday, my mom and I went to drop off a care package to her friend. We stood in their front yard (don’t worry– it was a good 20 feet away) and caught up. We talked about movie recommendations as their sons played basketball in the driveway. We concluded that “Pandemic” was probably not the best Netflix documentary to watch at the moment. It was refreshing to talk with someone again. My mom’s friend has cancer and will be in the hospital all week, yet she spoke with a calmness and peace that surrounded all of us. I thought a lot about her and her family. 

Throughout this week, I realized that my worries were not in order. It’s not bad to be upset about my own changed plans, but it’s also important to practice gratitude. I hadn’t thought about things until they started affecting me. 

What if we stopped complaining and thought about others first? What if we used our words to uplift? What if we checked on each other?

There are many ways that we can still reach out without physically being there. My aunt and her kids are writing thank you cards to grocery store employees. Other people are picking up food for those who are scared about their health. I’ve been trying new recipes and forcing my family to try my baking creations. There have never been so many cookies in our home before. My mom created a book for prayer requests and has been contacting everyone she cares about. I am reminding myself that God did not give us a spirit of fear. 

When the world starts up again, let’s maintain that mindset. Looking back, I don’t want to think about what I lost, but what I’ve gained. The physical distance does not have to hinder our connection with others. We can read, journal, or write to a friend. We can call someone we love or pick up supplies for someone who can’t.

I can stay disappointed or I can shift perspectives and use this time to think outside myself. 

What will you do when the world is shutting down?