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  • Rachele Palanca, California State University

Taking Advantage of What is Around You

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

How many times have you heard the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger." Probably enough times that it now just sounds cheesy.

A few minutes of scrolling through LinkedIn gives the impression that 2020 is ‘The Year’ for Everybody. The Year to find a job, The Year to get the promotion, The Year to get back into shape. You name it. As pleasant as it is to have resolutions, dreams, and milestones, we often forget about the obstacles that come with them. An opportunity cannot be a dream if it does not have its difficulties. Sometimes, obstacles do not just come in the form of rejection. Sometimes they come in the form of unfortunate events, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

As we all painfully know, a new disease named the coronavirus or COVID-19, began spreading around the world. Suddenly, it became too frightening to leave the house without 2lb. of hand-sanitizer or even being physically close to another person. The song "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by The Police could not be more relevant. However, dealing with this pandemic's craziness helped me realize the importance of taking advantage of the obstacles life presents us with no matter the difficulty. One of the challenges for me has been processing my fears for my family back home in Italy while also taking care of myself here in California. As someone who grew up in Italy for most of her life, it has been heartbreaking to hear how my family’s life has changed due to the coronavirus. I hear a mix of good and bad stories about how people deal with their day-to-day lives. Because of this virus, people have been forced to give up a lot of things such as attending school, going to work, attending church, or even visiting family. However, one thing that Italians do not seem to want to give up is working out.

One such story is of Davide Gatti, a personal trainer at Virgin Active in Milan. A complaint from one of his trainees turned into messages to friends for an outdoor group workout around the city of Milan. Little did he know, but his idea would have a tremendous impact. For the first workout, about 15 people showed up. The second time around, participation doubled in size. Quick on his feet, Davide grabbed this opportunity and turned it into a great business idea called Gymless. For the third meetup, there were about 40 people who willingly paid €10 a head. After receiving hundreds of texts and DMs about when and where his next class would be held, Davide created a website and later added an app!

Gymless didn’t just catch the attention of his fellow citizens, but also The Blonde Salad. The Blonde Salad is an outfit blog/fashion and travel magazine founded by Chiara Ferragni, one of the most famous influencers in today’s world and one of the 500 personalities shaping the fashion industry. Impressed by Davide’s Idea, The Blonde Salad decided not only to write an article on their website but also shared a post on their Instagram page. Davide went from a simple “Hey let’s get together and workout” text to his friends to sold-out classes around the city of Milan and then to a full-on endorsement by The Blonde Salad.

Circling back to the quote from the beginning, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a short excerpt from Nietzsche’s’ essay Twilight of the Idols. This quote is one that we like to throw around a lot but is quite appropriate. The "what doesn’t kill you" part of the sentence is now a virus that can kill you. Yes, it is cheesy as heck, but in times like this a bit of humor goes a long way. The point I'm making is this. When something terrible happens, this is life just telling you that change is in the air; therefore, you can either welcome it and adapt or stay still and let it control you. Like using the quarantines and social distancing as an opportunity to learn new skills, you have always wanted to do but told yourself you never had time to get it done.

It is up to us to determine how we utilize our newfound time at home. Being at home might mean spending more time with our families, catching up on our reading lists, starting that dream project, or even learning a new instrument. I want to wrap it up with one of my favorite Christina Yang’s quotes from Grey’s Anatomy: "Whenever we think we know the future, even for a second, it changes. Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely and we’re left only with the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it. To stand there trembling, not moving. Assuming the worst that can happen or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant."

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