A year ago today, I drove back to Ohio University with shaking hands, and my heartbeat was skyrocketing above 100bpm. The day prior, Ohio State University had called off school for the remainder of the year. As a precaution, I drove three hours to Athens to pack up all of my things. The air was strange, as I’m sure we all remember: crisp air but behind everyone’s eyes, an uneasy feeling. After getting a coffee uptown, I was on my way home. Soon enough, with a car packed full of my dorm belongings and sitting in Columbus traffic, I received the email stating that Ohio University would be closed for the remainder of the semester.
I look back on that moment and remember the overwhelming emotions that came with it: fear, confusion and a weird form of excitement. The type of excitement that only comes when your body knows no other emotion and can only process the blood rushing through your veins. Today, my feelings are very different. Somehow, within the past year, I have managed to find peace with everything going on in the world. Blame it on COVID, or the friends I’ve made, or my spirituality, but I am incredibly happy with who I am now.
I am, by no means, wishing to diminish all of the life lost this past year. Over 20 million jobs were lost due to COVID-19. Almost 30 million people were infected by the virus, and this doesn’t even account for the emotional toll of the past year. This is my perspective on the past year and how far I have come as a person.
Where do we begin … I went into lockdown with a boyfriend and went into my sophomore year without one. Does having a significant other define me? No. This is part of the realization that I had the past several months. Being forced to be on my own, in all social aspects, forced me to confront a great deal of things that I had suppressed for many years. I also began a job where everyone was incredibly open-minded to all aspects of life and spirituality.
I couldn’t tell you where it began, but one day I suddenly had a fluorite crystal and wasn’t calling myself a Christian anymore. I do not renounce the faith by any means, but it wasn’t who I was as a human anymore. It could be in the future because life is fluid and ever-changing, but for now, it is not. I began meditating, healing from past pain and reminding myself how worthy I was, and truly it helped me. I grew up an only child and was consistently alone and, quite frankly, hadn’t been “alone” since I was young. It was much of my inner child that needed to be healed, and I slowly found the childish essence that I used to hold.
While I still struggle with many things, somehow, I have learned to cope and think before I react to a situation. I have learned to be my authentic self regardless of what those around me may think. Somehow, in reflecting upon the past year, I feel comforted at the person I am now, and if eight-year-old me were to look at me now, she would be so proud.