In the beginning of quarantine, I didn’t think this was all going to be so difficult. I consider myself quite the loner, so the idea of isolation didn’t bother me as much as it bothered many of my friends, but I ended up being sorely mistaken. Being stuck at home, with my loud and annoying brother and sister, my overbearing mom, made me feel like I was going to go crazy. I wanted to leave my mother’s house so badly, but I also recognized my responsibility to keep my fellow human beings safe. I felt stuck all summer, craving any moment I could leave my noisy household, and that meant volunteering to go to the store every time we needed something. It was the only time I could leave my house, yet I still felt uneasy being surrounded by strangers, an anxiety I already had even before the pandemic and is now heightened because of it.
When school was scheduled to start up again, I was thrilled. This was exactly what I had been missing, a chance to go back to “normal”, and to escape the constant, ever-changing news of the virus. I could see my friends, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, and just be outside again. The idea of parties never excited me before, but this time it did. But then I was reminded once again that nothing would be “normal”, even in college. When the semester started, people couldn’t gather in groups larger than 5, and restaurants didn’t allow indoor dining, so I once again felt trapped. I live on campus, so I thought it would be easier to see my college friends, but then I was told that no visitors would be allowed in my room, which meant I could no longer do my friend’s and I’s tradition of having movie nights. And my classes, ones I had registered for way back in the Spring, were no longer going to be in person, only online. This was almost my breaking point, because I had been excited for these classes, filled with students and professors I have known for years.
Coming back to school this Fall was something I desperately needed, and it was something my mind clung onto in moments where I felt unbearably lonely. But I still have a responsibility, and I know that. As human beings, we should care for others, and if that meant not going to parties, not having movie nights, and having to learn in a virtual classroom, I would do it. But I miss the old college, the one where I at least had the choice to do those things.
There are so many things about college that I miss despite me still being in school. These pop-up in my Snapchat memories from time to time, reminding me of how different life was just a year ago. When I see these memories, of times where I laughed with my friends, where I encountered something strange while walking through campus, where I was involved in community service events with my sorority, I miss it. I even miss going to in-person classes, because I feel like I only now do assignments for the grade, instead of being interested in the lessons. I see these memories and wish I had appreciated them more when I was making them.
I still have hope, that the pandemic will end with the safety of everyone I know, and that we can all go back to our little slices of normal. And it is that hope I will cling to, because I can’t bear to imagine that I will miss out on the last few years of college I have left. I still have so much to do, trips I want to take, concerts I want to go to, classes I want to experience. But we can’t have all of that until we accept our own responsibilities, that we have to keep ourselves safe in order to keep others safe. If that means being confined to my little room this semester, where the WIFI doesn’t always work, where the blinds on the window are broken, and stuck to a laptop that’s severely outdated, then I will gladly do it. It is my hope for the chance everything can be normal again that keeps me sane in this world.