We are dealing with unprecedented times filled with fear, anxiety, and worst of all, the unknown. Not to mention, social distancing and remote learning have become our new normals. We are trying to cope with a high-level of change and uncertainty that some of us might not have ever dealt with before the eruption of COVID-19. These sudden emotions can put our minds and souls in bleak states. Recognizing that, I am striving to sift through the dark clouds of this difficult time to try and find the bright-side. In my search, I have found quarantine has given us two opportunities; the chance to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and adapt as well as giving us more time on our sides.

Working professionals and students have had to transition to virtual lifestyles filled with online collaboration tools, video conferences, and online learning. These circumstances were foreign to to students, who had not taken or had not ever planned to take online courses. Students have had to undergo big changes, as they have transitioned to virtual learning environments. Students have been forced to look for new areas of study within the barriers of their own homes accompanied by several family members. Also, students, who rely heavily on class participation and human interaction, have had to get used to staring at black, rectangular windows with their classmates’ names on their screens during lectures. Professors, who have resorted to not lecturing online, have coerced students to modify their learning methods especially for the ones, who depend most on their classes to grasp course materials. Clearly, students have had to make sizable adjustments these last few weeks. On top of that, students have had to cope with many of the social activities, that come with the territory of going away to college, getting cancelled.

Similarly, many professionals have had to acclimate to new methods of working. No more in-person team huddles, onsite client or partner meetings, or interaction with managers beyond conference or video calls. Aside from day-to-day changes in work, many professionals with children have had to blossom into either teachers, day-care coordinators, principals, or a mix of all three. Many professionals are juggling multiple roles in their lives they’ve never played. Even for folks, who have worked remotely or work from home regularly, are not necessarily used to sharing their internet connections with their kids also on video conferences, having to play the roles of teachers and guidance counselors, or having minimal human interaction beyond five family members one of which is the family dog.

Ultimately, this situation has forced students and working professionals to adapt and adapt quickly.

As a result of these circumstances, we have become more comfortable dealing with the uncomfortable thrown at us in life. When we become more comfortable taking ourselves out of our comfort zones, we are better able to take-on more intense challenges and handle difficult situations in either our personal lives or the work we’re given in our jobs. Regardless of being students or working professionals, when we make ourselves more adaptable, we become more inclined to take on difficult tasks, projects, or positions. When we become more adaptable, we receive more opportunities including chances to progress in our careers.

Many working professionals have not been commuting to and from work, spending time chit chatting with colleagues in between meetings or at the water-cooler, or walking from meeting to meeting. Many are hunkered down at their desks out of their home offices. The same goes for students. They have not been spending time walking to classes, stopping at cafes for coffees, or hanging out with their roommates or friends in their dorms. Again, many students are at home concluding their semesters online. By being home, we gain time. For me, at least, time is one of the best resources, and right now, I couldn’t be more thankful for the time I’m saving by walking twenty feet to my office vs. commuting over an hour a day.

Given we have this extra time, why don’t we capitalize on it? Let’s put it into productive measures to benefit us either personally or professionally. Let’s put our energy into activities that will simply make us better people. We can put this extra time into expanding our skills, taking up new hobbies, or pursuing our passions. Let’s look back on this quarantine and feel proud of how we spent our time. We should do things that put smiles on our faces; things that will benefit us personally and or professionally, things that will satisfy us long-term, or things we’ve always wanted to do but never felt we had the time to do so.

For students and young or even tenured professionals, it’s a good opportunity to learn new skills to help them in their careers, their current work, or perhaps a side hustle they have always wanted to go after. There are online resources, like Udemy and Skillshare, who offer loads of courses and tutorials where you can collect information and develop skills on a variety of topics such as business, IT, accounting, photography, marketing, design and illustration. Students and professionals can use these courses to spark interest and creativity all while building skills.

Whether student, young professional, or experienced professional, it’s critical to look for the positive side of these difficult circumstances and see how you can make the most of it to benefit you. Regardless of your position, career, or point in your life, try to find ways to improve yourself during quarantine. That way, once this period comes to an end, you can be that much better in your work or your day-to-life. It’s important to remember that sometimes, life doesn’t throw us the best lemons, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make lemonade.