Yesterday, my close friend and former floor-mate had a mandatory, start-of-the-year floor meeting in the Independence Residence Hall. The meeting was held virtually and with most cameras turned off, provided no opportunity for my friend to meet or even see the people she’d be living with. It was at this moment that she had an out of body experience.
She was taken back to our first floor meeting together in Louis L. Redding Hall, before we’d become friends or even met. I remember that meeting vividly. All 50 of my floor-mates crowded into the first floor lounge to hear our RA and Munson Fellow describe the year ahead of us. Not knowing anyone else, I sat next to my roommate. Across the lounge, I saw two brunettes who I thought looked nice - my friend from Independence Hall and her roommate at the time. Both of them became two of my best friends.
COVID-19 has changed everything. The potential to meet amazing people you might share connections with is diminished. This sad reality isn’t only true for Residence Halls, but for classes, as well. Forming connections with professors and peers has been made exponentially more difficult.
Speaking about how much is different with my group of friends, a unanimous, wearied sentiment prevailed - “I’m so sick of corona.”
Deprived of social interactions and an even vague sense of normalcy, it is becoming increasingly difficult, for college students especially, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tired of quarantining and social distancing, students long for a time before the pandemic where college could be enjoyed without the added stressor of COVID-19.
Even in residence halls, like the one I currently live in, the possibility of being sent home is incredibly stress-inducing and sometimes dibilitating. Just today, I was filling out an absentee voting ballot when a thought crossed my mind - “What if I get sent home, but an absentee ballot is still sent to school? How will I vote?” I called my parents in a panic, but in this unprecedented time, even they didn’t have an answer. I am still unsure of what to do.
Additionally, students are gradually losing their ability to accept and make the best of the situation. Every experience from this point forward is compared to our pre-pandemic memories, and they simply cannot measure up. I was recently told the story of a student who has completely lost the will to get out of bed, while another states he doesn’t care how he does in online classes because they don’t seem like they matter.
With the economy in its current state, plans for the future are being blurred or rearranged, as well. Naturally, students question the degree they are working toward, but the pandemic has significantly heightened this anxiety.
The present feels inadequate, the future seems impossible, and the past reigns supreme.
Sadly, we cannot go back in time, nor can we fast-forward to a corona-free future where a vaccine has been found and normalcy is restored. While this realization is still not enough to mend students’ mentalities in this time, it is crucial to remember. The past is important, as are hopes for the future, but being stuck in either is dangerous, especially during times like these.
I cannot offer much advice on how to ease this anxiety and stress, as I am trapped in a “sick of corona” mentality myself. All I can say is to remember that you are not alone. Everyone is in this same position, thinking these same thoughts. We are in this together. Talk to your friends and loved ones. Remind yourself of your passions. And finally, stay safe and stay strong. The light at the end of the tunnel may be dimmed, but it is still there. Live your best present, and soon it will become brighter.