Way back in March, my world was etched in nervous laughter. My family raised many eyebrows as toilet paper flew off shelves, and we used a little more sanitizer than usual. Like many others, I unknowingly spent my last day of high school as I would any other, staring at the clock as the minutes ticked by, taking note of the fact that I had a Biology test after spring break and that I would need to find time to study. My friends and I were planning graduation parties and our last summer trips before we delved into adulthood.
A lot has changed, and many of us have had to make the difficult, painful decision to stay home until things ease up. It's easy to feel like we're missing out when we've lost so much time already, but this isn't the end, and the more often we remember that, the better off we'll be. Here are six ways that I've found peace with my decision to live at home for a few more months.
1. I'm making the decision that's best for me.Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash
I know how nervous I would be on campus, among so many other students, before I'm fully confident in our leaders' abilities to squash the virus. I wouldn't feel right visiting my parents frequently, knowing that I would be much more likely to contract the virus on campus and then pass it off to them. I'm also not thrilled with the idea of getting it myself, even if I'm likely to survive - studies have discovered lingering effects like lung and heart damage in patients after they've recovered, and there are still many unknowns about the nature of the virus. Many students have weighed their options and decided that moving to campus is the best decision for them, but we all have different circumstances that have guided us this year. This isn't a one size fits all situation.
2. There are other people in the same boat.Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash
I am not the only student making this decision or having this experience. Harvard has switched to remote classes through the end of the academic year and is only allowing 40% of undergraduates back on campus, and several other top universities have similar, if not quite as extreme, restrictions. Thousands of other students are unable or unwilling to return to campus, and when we do eventually venture off on our own, we'll do so alongside many of our peers. Our shared experiences and unfamiliarity with the campus will bring us closer together.
3. This too shall pass.Photo by Marco Baldini on Unsplash
Nothing lasts forever. The Spanish Flu pandemic, which was one of the worst we've seen in the past hundred years, lasted about two years. That sounds like a long time, but we have to consider that the scientific community has come a long way since then, from vaccine development to stem cell treatments. They'll continue to work towards developing treatments and vaccines, and eventually, this pandemic will end. This is not our new normal, only a temporary normal.
4. I may discover new experiences that I would have otherwise missed out on.Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
By staying home, I get to see my friends more often. I've gotten closer to several people, and my life is better because of them. I've tie-dyed shirts at the park while social distancing, I've swam under bridges and hiked new trails, and I've had more philosophical conversations than I can count. "But Emily," you might say, "I could have done that at college!"
And yeah, you could've. But that's the point. You can have new experiences and meet new people anywhere if you seek them out. We have to be a little more creative in this day and age of Covid, but sometimes that leads to the most memorable events. And anyways...
5. I have at least a couple of years in college after this year to have fun.Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash
If the average person takes 8 semesters to graduate and each semester is about 16 weeks, that means that in a normal situation, they'd spend about 128 weeks on campus. Freshmen who skip the first semester still have a solid 112 weeks to spend on campus, getting up to late night shenanigans, studying all night in the library, and trying to cook in the community kitchens. It's a setback, sure, but once I'm there I know that the few months that I lost will hardly mean anything to me in the big scheme of things.
6. I'm going to emerge from this year with a hell of a story to tell.Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
The majority of us have experienced and continue to experience a traumatic worldwide event. The ways that our lives have changed are extensive, and there's a lot that we can't control. So, we move forward and focus on what we can control. We focus on the adventures we can have and the improvements that we can make for now. We look forward to the little things and anticipate the day that we can go back to the big things. We make memories so that we can look back on our hardships and be proud that we made it through the tunnel.
Our generation will have a million stories to tell. We just have to hang in there.