5 things the pandemic taught me

Kayla Turbyfill is a Career Ambassador and the contributing author of the series Turby Talks” for the Career & Professional Development Center blog Peaks and Valleys.

Now officially a year into this pandemic, I’ve been reflecting on what lessons I learned during this ever-challenging time. It felt like every week came with a new batch of trials, changes and forced adaptations in a world of COVID-19.

I for one grew in ways I never imagined I could. I came to understand myself, my career journey and the young professional inside me on a whole new level.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned

1. Boundaries are key

I learned setting healthy boundaries is a crucial form of self-care that is not always easy. I still have to work at it, but now I am trying to set boundaries about how I spend my time and what commitments are achievable for me. I prioritize people and activities that fill my cup.

2. It’s OK to take a step (or four) back

The stress of the pandemic took a toll on our mental health and ability to accomplish our goals. Taking a beat and some distance to evaluate what I can and cannot handle is a big part of finding balance in school, in work and in my personal life.

3. Asking for support is a strength

I had to learn it was okay to ask for support when I needed it and I learned how to ask for it. You can get support from your family, friends, coworkers, supervisor, faculty, advisors and career coaches. They are your support system in times of crisis.

4. Celebrate the little things

Day to day, everything seemed the same for me during this pandemic, so I learned to celebrate the little victories I rarely enjoyed before. Sending an email, letting someone know where I was (emotionally or otherwise), reaching out to a friend, making coffee—all became celebratory moments for me.

5. We are always learning new skills

The pandemic put me in positions where I had to develop skills I rarely used before, such as adaptability. I learned to make the best of the challenges presented and found new ways to connect and collaborate with people.

People say hindsight is in 20/20 vision (pun intended) and that is true of the last year. It gave me a greater perspective on my career path as I evaluated my coping strategies and worked through what was and wasn’t working for me. It gave me a new trajectory, kickstarting Turby Talks and teaching me how to share my voice.

Through it all, I learned more about myself getting closer to the person I want to be. I learned to be a friend, a professional, a student amidst so many new trials and I believe I am better for it.

What did you learn this year?