As coronavirus continues to plague the U.S. and much of the world, many of us have had to make some really difficult decisions. We have had to decrease the number of people we hang out with, cancel vacations and holidays, and more. Most would agree that it is worth it to protect our loved ones, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard.
Last semester, I decided to come back to UVA and live in On Grounds housing. I was hoping that, even though all of my classes were online, it might feel somewhat normal. Unfortunately, the reality was a little bit disappointing. My classes being all online meant I was in my room for almost the entire day and then it being almost dark out when I finally logged out of Zoom. Because my housing was apartment style, there was little chance to meet new people. Staying healthy was very important to me as someone who has vulnerable family members, so I was reluctant to socialize. The few friends I did see did wonders for my mental health, but overall, the semester felt bleak and isolating. I think a lot of people have been feeling this if Reddit is any clue.
Thus, when spring semester rolled around, I had a tough decision to make. When I say tough, I mean tough, like I cried so many times tough. It was terrible having to choose between feeling isolated and alone at school and being home and missing out on the college experience. No matter which I thought I was going to choose, I was mourning the loss of the other. Coronavirus has caused so many terrible things, and I know that a year or two of college is so little in the grand scheme of things, but it felt really hard to come to terms with the fact that the possibility of this semester being anything close to normal was gone.
Eventually, knowing myself and my experience last semester, I decided to save some money and my mental health this semester and learn from home. I am so lucky to be someone who has a family and a home environment to be able to do this, and I think now, two weeks into the semester, that I made the right decision. I am happier in these stressful times being so close to a support system. Recent family issues have made it necessary for me to be extra safe, and I breathe a sigh of relief at being able to control who I come into contact with at home. I miss my friends, but I am so grateful to know that they will still be there for me when I get back.
I am not someone who likes to admit that they are struggling, or that a situation isn’t working for them. Admitting that last semester was hard was so difficult when social media made it seem like most people were coping so well. But, when I tuned into myself and what I needed to be mentally okay, I came out with a decision I could live with. I have made housing decisions with friends for next year, which has made me so excited and hopeful. I hope that if you are struggling the same way I was, that you are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel too.