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To my future children,

A big hello from the year 2020! I meant for y’all to read this letter in 2040 so I hope you followed directions ?. Your mom is writing this from her family home in North Carolina when she was 19 and a sophomore in college. As you all might know, 2020 was the year when we lived through a pandemic. As I am writing this letter, your mom, uncle, and grandparents are all fine and safe but we are living in a time when the unknown haunts us. My family has been privileged enough to have constant access to food and the internet but know that there were countless others who had lost jobs, with little money to afford necessities. Having a lot of time to myself, I have been thinking a lot about how life was before this pandemic but also how it will be afterward. So today, I want to share some lessons I have learned during this time and I hope you try to understand how your mom has changed.

When you think about the things you loved, before this pandemic, I would have said dancing, spending time with family, and watching movies with my friends. While I still love all of these, if you ask me today, the things I love the most are getting the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, the freedom to go out and eat, and not having barriers to daily interaction. The pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down. I had to move out early from college without saying bye to my friends and suddenly shifted to online classes. Your uncle lived in NYC where the disease spread the fastest, so he flew down to NC and had to be quarantined. Your grandmother had to learn her way around technology so she could teach her first-graders, virtually, while also caring for all of us. Your grandfather was also working from home and was the one that made trips to the grocery store early in the morning and cleaned everything before it was brought into the house. Even with my family around, there were many days when the loneliness got so bad and I missed being around my dance team and suitemates. I realized that being in college and spending time with the people I loved is what I missed, this interaction, and should not be taken for granted. To me, that meant cherishing every moment I had with them afterwards and always remembering that their presence is special. My family was privileged in that my parents and brother were employed during this time, but many others were not, so this period taught me to be aware of my financial status and use it wisely. It was also the little things, such as being able to eat outside and go to grocery stores and parks without fear. I want you all to always remember that the things you experience now are not always going to be there. Every time we go out to eat, consciously think about how you are able to be there: we have a car to get there, we have the money to do so, people open the store for us and live off of the profit they can make, and people are healthy enough so we can interact.  All these elements must come together for us to be able to do such a small thing as eat out. We do not have to live in fear. These things must always remain in the back of your head in understanding your privilege.

When I was growing up, people would always say “live every day like it is your last.” I would always brush it off, with the attitude that the short-term is more important. However, after spending months in self-isolation, I have learned to live by that motto. I do not want to experience something to this extent again having regrets. Regretting not agreeing to hang out with my friends that one night, interacting with my professors in class, or skipping out on social events. Don’t get me wrong, grades are important, but spending time with your loved ones and caring for your mental health is more important to me. In this time capsule, you should find some pictures of your mom, some videos called tiktoks that we all became obsessed with, and masks that your grandfather and I made. I hope you learned at least something from this letter!

Love you all to pieces,

Anu Joy (Mom)

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