Picture this, it was the end of February 2020, the spring semester of senior year at college is in full swing. Homework, classes and extracurriculars filling my time. Excited, but nervous about my final semester. I had applied for graduation, was looking into jobs post graduation and had been trotting along the path of life, thankful for each new day with friends and family. People get sick and unfortunately people pass away, but nothing could have warned me for what turmoil the next few months would become.
In response to the Coronavirus, my University's first step was extending spring break an extra week. It's safe to say no one was mad at that. It was a way for students to be safe at home and for the schools administrations to have time to decide what the next steps would be concerning Covid- 19. At this time, rumors were flying around about whether or not schools would return in person and if they would continue online from other locations. This was when the early "frantic like" behaviors began.
On March 16, the University administration released an email, explaining to the schools community, the status of the coronavirus, tips on how to stay safe, and what the steps were moving forward. The news was not what any student, regardless of grade year wanted to hear. This was the initial message about spring break being two weeks instead of one and explaining the potential for classes to be online further than April 13, 2020.
From my point of view, this was okay. I admired how the University was taking steps to ensure the safety of the staff and students, putting out needs first. The administration sent out updated emails every few days or as soon as they got new information that pertained to the schools community. There was some hope, but not for long. The next email that came from my colleges University Communications was the real heartbreaker. As of the end of March, all in-person events or on campus events were either cancelled or postponed, including graduation and senior week. Reading this message on my way to work one afternoon, put a damper on my day and my hopes for the future. My sorority and other campus organizations had been planning events for the semester that were no longer allowed to take place.
For days after the initial email, telling the students that classes could no longer be in person and that on campus events would be either postponed or cancelled, navigating the next few weeks became difficult. Not only did my hours at work get cut in half, later resulting in me not working due to Asthma, but a majority of fun activities that all seniors look forward to for a long time are were not happening. No walking across a stage, as of now (there is still a slight chance). No more in person senior events and campus bondings. To best explain it, my mind was in a haze, a state of confusion mixed with worry, uncertainty and a glimpse of occasional hope. Coming to terms with everything that had begun to happen and what was and is still to come, was no easy feat. Often times at home, I was disorganized with homework, I felt like I had either no free time or too much free time. I wasn't sure how to process all of the new "life rules" meaning social distancing and the stay at home order.
What I began to do, after I finally drilled it into my head that there was nothing in my power that I could possibly do to help change the circumstances for my family, friends or colleagues, I needed to figure out how to get myself on a path of acceptance and success. I realised things needed to change, both for the good and for safety purposes. But after having come to terms with knowing changes had to be made, how was I going to go about all of it? Step one: find somewhere to start.
As classes had begun online via Zoom, it was weird and took some getting used to, but definitely was better than not having any resources at all. They presumed at the same time online as were in person. It was hard to navigate assignments and keep up with rapid changes. Although, I was able to finally create a method that worked really well and developed things to tell myself to help stay afloat during this hard time. When I was on a Zoom chat with my Sociology senior seminar class, my professor had been taking questions about how to move forward with assignments and classes. He recommended to all of us that we try not to overwhelm ourselves, to do the best we can with completing class work on time and not to do a ton of work all at once. That may sound generic or like what other people may have said to you before, but for some reason, it really resonated with me.
Following his advice, I began to make small changes to how I was going about my day both with classes and how I thought mentally. His advice really helped me get on track with moving forward amidst this crazy time we all are facing. One of the first things I began to do was be as positive as possible. Look for the good out of the bad and that slightly changed my perspective on the whole issue at hand. I am a rather optimistic and bubbly person, but it still took a lot out of me to not sink into an unhealthy mental state. Something i occasionally struggle with, but not something I was prepared to deal with during quarantine. I know I am not the only one and that there are many people who struggle with mental health. It is not an easy thing to deal with, especially at a time like this, but what I needed to keep hearing was that there indeed is hope and "this too shall pass". Each new day is a new opportunity to do something that makes you feel good about yourself, the feeling everyone deserves.
Going along with that, I began to think more about all of the things I can do during quarantine and not what I wasn't allowed to do, even though it's always in the back of my mind. I picked up painting and began to find little things around my house that would occupy my time. I have not yet been able to get outside as much as I want to, but that is in the process. The next thing I began to do and was probably one of the biggest game changers was writing out every single assignment and its due date in or of when it needed to b e done by on a sheet of paper and crossed off one by one each thing I had completed. It gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and a good feeling that I was able to control it and still knew I was giving the assignments by best effort. What I had also noticed that worked for me, but may not work for other, was getting smaller assignments done ahead of time, so I could spend extra time on my larger papers and one's I knew would need the extra attention. This helped me out tremendously to the point I was almost two weeks ahead on assignments, giving me a lot of time to work on my senior capstone and longer essays. I am still currently doing this and would not have even thought about it if it weren't for my professor and the odd situation everyone has found themselves in.
I am not going to be able to get this time in college back or get to experience certain events, but I will 100% be able to look back on it for years to to come. Understanding that I could not change my circumstances was hard, but absolutely needed for me to move on with life and take each day one at a time. To all of my fellow seniors, either high school, college or a higher degree, we still did it. We made it through the classes and assignments. School is not easy. We were able to pull through the studying and nervousness of exams. Nothing and no one will be able to take away the time and effort that was put in up to this point. In hindsight, graduation would have been one of the best things to experience, but I know once I send in my final exams and last assignments, the fast four years of school will all have been worth it, every single second of it. Even the good and bad. Moving forward and treating each day as a new opportunity to make the most out of what is happening, thanking my friends and family for helping me to get where I am at, is the best thing anyone can do. Although we may not get to walk across that stage, accept the degree from someone's hand while our name is read aloud, that will not change one simple detail.... we still did it.
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