How Two Years of the Pandemic Impacted Us Around the World

When much of the world retreated to their homes as COVID-19 ravaged the globe, we were all faced with a choice — how were we going to live? Would this change break us, or make us, or could there be some in-between? Could we become a better version of ourselves or would sorrow descend upon us, darkening every doorstep? These stories from around the globe take a look at the last two years of the global pandemic and the intimate, interior lives of those who are survivors, those who are thriving and those who have totally evolved in order to adapt to this crisis and turn a disaster into opportunity. Featuring contributions from HuffPost editions around the world, we take a look at what our lives have been like and what we may face in the future.

"I knew I was in for long hours, endless responsibilities and a lot of uncertainty, but I also knew it would all be worth it if I was working for myself."
Italy's Piacenza Hospital is dedicated to returning personal items from deceased COVID patients to their relatives — no matter how logistically or emotionally difficult it may be.
"He was my high school math teacher. ... I owe this man a big thank-you, because even as he was dying, I never stopped learning from him."
"I was a really strong woman, and I became like a rag doll. It has taken me a lot of work to get back to my former self, but the pain in my soul is still there."
Soyoka Yamamoto petitioned Tokyo's governor to adopt a "partnership system" to protect same-sex partners. She hopes full marriage recognition is next.
"Normally, I’m a fun-loving, soft-centered man. But this job makes you hard. You’ve got to be hard, internally, to cope with death every day."
"Because we were forbidden from yelling or singing, I could hear some fans letting out whimpers, as if trying to get out their emotions any way they could."
"For many of us, leaving lockdown means facing the racism, sexism, transphobia and ableism we had found some degree of safety from in our homes."