Reflections: Jess Elliott

I, along with millions of other students in the U.S., did not end my freshman exactly how I thought I would. Instead of being surrounded by all my new friends in the beautiful and historic coastal town of Wilmington, I was catapulted (physically, slowly but mentally, quickly) across the country to a small town in Iowa called Blue Grass, which isn’t even technically a town because there aren’t enough people. To say I was shaken would be an understatement.

I’ll never forget the way my stomach dropped when I heard school was closing and I’d have to drive almost nineteen hours across the country away from everything I’d come to love. It sounds dramatic, but I really felt like my world was ending in those two days of driving home. My idyllic freshman year vanished down the drain. Don’t get me wrongI didn’t have it nearly as badly as the seniors, losing their last memories of college and graduationbut I still felt pretty horrible.

Although these last two months have been lonely, I’ve learned a lot about myself, one of which is that online schooling is NOT for me. I much prefer sitting in a classroom to trying to find the motivation to open my laptop and watch a recorded lecture that I could easily ignore. However, I’ve pushed through the lack of motivation and continued my schooling as best as I can, trying to salvage a sleep schedule when I have no commitments, and taking frequent mental breaks that double as excuses to try out all the new hobbies I always wanted to try but could never find the time to.

In the past few weeks, I’ve embroidered I don’t even know how many shirts for my friends, started a collage and art journal, pulled old acrylic paints out of my basement to attempt to revive my creativity, spent countless hours finding project ideas on Pinterest, and evolved into my final form as a gardener and plant mom. I would predict that everyone’s mental health has taken a hit during quarantine, my own included, but I’ve been trying to take the time apart to improve myself, so when I finally see people again, maybe I’ll be more confident.

Overall, quarantine has been a formative experience. In a rural Midwestern town where not much happens, most people don’t understand the severity of the virus, and it’s disheartening to see the lack of masks and protective measures people are taking compared to other places around the country. I’m trying to keep looking on the bright side of this quarantine and use the opportunity of an essentially paused life to learn new things and better myself.