It has been a few extremely weird few weeks. I don’t think anybody is prepared for what is unraveling around us. Personally speaking, I have encountered mixed feelings while dealing with the current crisis. I wrote these down mainly because I know how it feels knowing that somewhere somebody is going through the same thing as I feel. It is helpful and that’s exactly what I want to do.
The most overwhelming feeling is gratitude. I haven’t caught the virus yet. Based on the coverage on what it can do human bodies, I count myself lucky not to be a patient. If you are safe like me so far, I wish you would stay the same throughout this pandemic. Plus, I am feeling blessed for having a full-time paying job that covers my insurance and helps me pay bills. It’s a luxury for many people and something that I definitely do not take for granted. I enrolled in a dual Masters degree in Omaha in 2016. If I had followed the normal path that numerous students did, I would have graduated in December 2019; which would mean that I would have been thrown into a chaotic job market where companies were trying to downsize and the chance that I would be sponsored would have been slim to none. I tried hard to graduate early simply because I wanted to work as soon as possible and get paid better. By no means, I predicted this would happen. I am very grateful for whatever forces there were that put things in place for me.
Like everybody else, I am worried about the future. The economy is shattered and looks to remain so, if not get worse, in the foreseeable future. Given the economic outlook, it doesn’t come as a surprise that companies, including my employer, seek to cut costs and downsize. Though I am employed at the moment, there is nothing set in stone, except the fact that any request such as pay raise or sponsorship may have to wait for a while.
Even though the virus has decimated dozens of countries around the globe, the US is now the most affected. Nobody knows the full extent of the damage done to this country. The government expects next week to the worst week, but what if it was wrong? A few weeks ago, the whole disaster was called a hoax. Masks were recommended only when you were sick. Now, the CDC recommends citizens wear masks in public places. The odds of being affected through community spread increase by the day. Self-isolation will continue for a while and personally, I don’t expect this crisis to blow over before June, if I am being extremely optimistic.
Living alone in America in this time is hard. I have only myself, my computer, my phone and my apartment to keep me entertained and occupied. Of course, I chat with my girlfriend and friends every day, but the constant stare at the screens and the lack of human interaction sometimes are unbearably exhausting and excruciating. On top of that, my family in Vietnam kept checking on me as the news on America in Vietnam worried them. I don’t blame them, but at the same time, I hate making them worried. On the other hand, I am worried about my family, especially my parents who have underlying conditions. The feeling of powerlessness, compounded with the angst and frustration and boredom, is tough to deal with.
Nonetheless, the crisis doesn’t necessarily give me only negative feelings. I tried to look at this in a positive light in a sense that it might be an opportunity. Personally speaking, this crisis presents a chance for me to step up at work. The pandemic prompted a barrage of requests with short turnaround time “in the office”. Everybody in my team has worked more urgently and harder these days. There were days when I felt completely spent around 4pm. However, if I could emerge from this as a reliable and valuable contributor, my boss or his boss would look at me more favorably.
Additionally, my personal portfolio has taken a beating. It’s definitely concerning to lose money on your investments. Assets’ values have gone down significantly, whether they are bitcoins, real estate or stocks. But if you look at it from another perspective, it can be a good time to buy. When the falling knives stop falling and if I can pick the right time, it’s a tremendous opportunity to snap up cheap assets.
Finally, this self-isolation can stimulate self-reflection and creativity. With fewer distractions and plenty of time on hand, all of us should be freer to think about the past, present and future, to reflect, to plan ahead, to live a little slower and to be more creative.
It’s impossible not to acknowledge the detriment of this pandemic. Yet, there is no reason for us not to find opportunity from it either. I hope you will stay safe and come out of the other side safe and better.