By: Zoe Bernardi, Community Editor
The further we slip into the fourth month of this pandemic lockdown, the more I lose myself in my thoughts. Each month, a new wave of emotions and ideas flood my head. The fact that four months ago I was laughing with new friends, sipping wine and exploring the streets of Italy now seems like a fever dream. The photos on my phone from that time don’t feel real. I am no longer the same person I was on my flight home or the day after I submitted my last assignment for the year. Just four months ago, I was someone else.
Although we have all been sitting at home, scrolling through one TikTok after another, we have also been able to see ourselves grow and change like never before. With each passing day, we reflect on the last. The weeks merge and yet it’s already summer.
The first wave of the lockdown was filled with humor and pity. We all sat there, unsure of what would happen next. Then we accepted our fate, still bitter and looking back at old Snapchat memories, wondering when we would go back to the routine we didn’t realize we craved so much.
Now that school is over, grades have been submitted and the textbooks have been sent back to Chegg, we move into another slow phase. I am working a remote internship, my eyes glaze over from being on my laptop for hours. The only breaks I have are when I am in Zoom calls asking my co-workers what their weekend plans are.
With all of this extra time, we are slowly learning who we are at our core. We’re understanding how we work, the best way we learn, who we truly miss and how to stay in touch.
“Every day, you are still growing, in beautiful, honest ways, even when every day feels and looks the same,” said poet Morgan Harper Nichols
The issue is not planning for our new lives, as college students, it’s that we weren’t prepared for the amount of time we would be around our family. Most of us haven’t lived in our homes since age 17. I wasn’t prepared to build these new relationships with my parents, to rebuild the friendships I have back home or to try and create a stronger bond with my sister.
Like many of you, I was supposed to arrive home in May. I wasn’t expecting these changes to take place in March. Now I have to face them head-on. Which I am still working on, even after four months.
One day, while I sat in a vacant parking lot six feet away from a close friend, we talked about how we don’t know who we are. We will truly never know who we are in the grand scheme of things.
“The things that used to make me feel better don’t anymore,” my friend said, as we sat in the lot.
That statement hit me in the face. As I quickly remembered everything that I would do before compared to how I do it now. I was in awe, I was not expecting such a change even in the most simple things I do to cheer myself up.
Before quarantine, I used to clear my head by going for a walk. Before, I’d go to a coffee shop to do my work. Before, I would call home to destress.
Now, going for a walk is a daily occurrence. Now, coffee is handed to me through a small window from people in facemasks. Now, I am running out of things to say at family dinner.
With all of our extra time, we are left to overthink, over-reflect. I am so aware of my emotions and how I am feeling, which is great, but now I am also more concerned about my future. More specifically, concerned about being prepared and dealing with the unknown has been my biggest fear throughout this lockdown.
Everyone is planning for the fall as if everything will be back to normal. We are all planning for a campus return, a graceful exit out of quarantine. I have to pretend that things are going according to plan because I have to move forward.
Looking into the future, I don’t know what I am going to do, but I know it has to involve risk, change and adventure. Too much stagnation in these past months. I need a quick and fast change in pace. I can’t plan everything, but I can manifest the emotions and desire for change.
All of this is happening during a political uprising. Protests and riots are being planned. Information on safety, Black Lives Matter and COVID relief are being shared and passed around. Instagram has changed, what used to be a platform to see a glimpse of people’s lives, to stay in touch with old roommates and friends is now filled with pressure to speak up. I understand that the silence is deafening, but the rush to have a political view and statement overnight is also quite different from two months ago when we were all playing bingo. I have never had to publicly state and validate myself on who I support. The change in social media and stepping forward as someone who is working toward allyship was new. Having to claim a space on Instagram, where if I didn’t I would be shamed, regardless of whether or not I had donated or done any research outside of posting on my Instagram story, was new.
As a white woman, I have been actively aiming for allyship. Donating to funds, liking and reposting content, reading articles, watching videos and reaching out to get more information. I am also trying to find the balance between blocking those who are ignorant and uneducated versus taking a stand and having those tough conversations. I am not asking for sympathy, I can only hope that the work I am continuously putting in to further educate and support these communities is making an impact, and that everyone who is in support of the movements are acknowledged. I stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement, and I will always be working on recognizing my privilege and using it to overall benefit these communities and movements.
As I progress further into my internships and as my state slowly starts to reopen, I am curious about how being in public will feel, how sitting in a restaurant will be. I am almost nervous to see those who I haven’t seen throughout this lockdown, as long-distance communication is strained and unique to how it was previously.
I can only hope that with all of this time on my hands, I grow stronger and more confident in myself and self-worth. I hope everyone reading this found it beneficial, and used it as an opportunity to reflect and slow down.
To end, I will quote Morgan Harper Nichols again: “I cannot tell you what lies ahead, but I can tell you, you are free to open your heart to peace, no matter your uncertainty.”