As the fall semester comes in swinging with rising cases of COVID-19 and more uncertainties, many of us are facing a very different school year than we, and many generations before us, have ever experienced in our lives. Some of us, myself included, are continuing our education at home with most of our classes online. For others, campus has become a strict scene of limited capacities and disinfection stations. As naturally social and active beings, these new rules and regulations are taking a toll. It is for this reason that I invite you to look at things from a perspective that manifests its own happiness.
Since the end of the last semester, we have spent our days coping with the pandemic by trying to stay entertained and hoping that somebody saves society from spiralling into complete chaos. Now, we must step back into a somewhat normal routine. We must wake up on a schedule, dress for the day, and step out into the world’s biggest masquerade. Across nations, people walk the streets and fill public areas adorned with coverings over their faces. Just like the decorative masks worn at traditional masquerade balls, each mask and masquerade we put on tells something about the person underneath. Perhaps they are showing a patch of their favorite color or showcasing their favorite T.V. character. Maybe they are revealing their humorous side with a novelty pattern or displaying their life’s passion with a mask dedicated to their career. As we venture to grocery stores and restaurants, the masquerade continues.
Reversed from the original costume wear, the masks of the world’s masquerade conceal the mouth and show the eyes. Voices are muffled and smiles are veiled by a layer of fabric stretching from one ear to the other. But, as it is with all masquerades, identity is concealed and hidden. It is up to the attendees to examine what can be seen in order to interact with others. Outside of our living spaces, we are tasked with listening closely and looking into the eyes of the people around us to fully interact with them. Where once, the subtle cues of the lips could convey the smallest of our internal feelings, we must now both receive and express ourselves through our eyes. Perhaps, we will find ourselves adapting to this new way of life by making sure our smiles reach our eyes and our voices are full of emotion.
In a way, it seems we are interacting with each other on a closer level despite our new physical distance guidelines. Life has taken an unexpected turn since March, and summer was only an adjusting buffer between the school years. In that time, many of us have experienced painful loss and lonesome isolation during the pandemic. It isn’t fair to ourselves to try and pretend like everything is completely normal when it is so clearly and blatantly not. We need to look out for each other as acquaintances and friends joined together in a community of scholars, but we don’t have to do this fearfully. We can be careful and conscientious while maintaining overall happiness.
By looking at the world in a different light, we can make do with this temporary event unfolding in our lives. With this, I welcome the first year students and those who are living away from home right now. This is a first-time for everyone; you’re not alone. When you venture out, whether for classes or just a stroll around campus, join the world’s largest masquerade ball.