Figuring It Out Together (At Least 6 Feet Apart)

March 20, 2020

The world may be upside down, but it’s still turning.

Like everyone else, the COVID-19 pandemic has seeped into almost every aspect of my life. It feels like everything is changing, and it’s hard not to panic as this situation grows more unprecedented and surreal every day.  

But even in the pseudo-apocalypse, life goes on. 

In preparation for online classes next week, I’ve been refreshing my email and combing through Moodle, trying to plan ahead. I’ve been practicing with Zoom to prepare for my upcoming appointments at the Writing Center (I’m a tutor there, and yes, we’re still open and excited to work with you!). I’ve been frantically updating my planner, crossing out old due dates and meeting times, hoping that I’ll remember the new information.  

It’s a big adjustment. And for a lot of people, their anxiety about our new normal is almost overpowering their anxiety about the pandemic.

For example, most people I know are upset about online classes because this transition represents a loss. Students choose Millikin because we love the connection and devotion between students and professors. It’s difficult to imagine how we can experience these qualities through a computer screen. 

More than that, though, the semester has been cut short. I miss the people in my life at Millikin. I love the friends and professors who have made my college experience so amazing, and I’m sad that I probably won’t see most of them for several months.  

But even though there’s a lot of stress surrounding the switch to online classes, these last few days have helped to assuage some of it. My professors have made it clear that they’re just as sad as I am, and they’re eager to work with students to figure it out. My friends and I have been texting and finding the humor in this bizarre situation. Uncertainty has brought us closer together.    

We can’t expect to conform to rigid normalcy; nothing about this is normal. But we’re all determined to work together and make this transition as easy as possible, which is a huge comfort. I think we’ll get through this. We’ll salvage the semester.

And in the meantime, we wait. How have you been spending your quarantine?  

For a lot of people, social distancing has become a strange opportunity. I scroll through Instagram and see all of the new things that my friends have decided to try during their unexpected free time. No one had the time for new recipes, hobbies, or workout routines until their schedules fell apart. Why not bake croissants or clean out your closet? What else are you going to do?

Kudos to the people who have decided to make this a productive time of growth. I’m cheering you on from my couch.  

Mostly, I applaud you for finding distractions, because as it turns out, sometimes ignorance really is bliss. I try to stay as updated and informed as possible, but the constant coronavirus coverage is exhausting. The bad news is overwhelming.  

I know that classes, homework, and deadlines are looming, and I care about finishing the semester and doing well. But it’s hard to focus in the midst of a global pandemic. After a particularly shocking statistic or another depressing social distancing reminder, it feels like everything is falling apart. I refresh my email with a little less enthusiasm.

To anyone who’s pretty sure the world is ending, I promise that it’s not. This is a scary time, and we worry about online classes and maintaining normalcy because it’s easier than worrying about the disease. But even though things are eerie and stressful right now, life goes on. And that means the good parts of life go on, too.  

I have seen so much empathy and compassion in the last week. People are banding together to comfort one another and stop the spread of this disease. Small acts of kindness can mean so much, especially in these circumstances. So be kind. Take care of yourself and the people around you.   

When things get better—and they will—I hope that this is the major takeaway. Crises don’t define us. We look out for one another. We create art. We bake croissants.  

The world is still turning. And even though we need to keep our distance right now, we’ll figure this out together.  

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