COVID-19: What it means to me

I never in my lifetime ever thought I would have to face something like this.

Over the past few weeks our nation has seen drastic changes in its normal every day to day life. The current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the state of mind that people are operating on, wondering what is coming next and how they can keep their loved ones safe. 

I’ll be honest, this was my first state of mind as well. Many people in my family have compromised immune systems, so my first priority is keeping them in good health along with myself. However, there is a difference between making health a priority and going into mass wide panic. 

For the first time in my life, I am worried about the next time I’ll be able to find meat in the stores, bread on the shelves and eggs in the cooler. Realistically, stores will get their new shipments in soon and everything will be okay.

However, for someone like me who has anxiety it is hard to separate these things in my head. I’m listening to news and hearing the updates. Yet, while it should be putting my mind at ease, knowing that Ohio is taking all these precautionary measures to keep us safe, at the end of the day it still makes my heart hurt. 

It hurts to think about because it’s not just food and supplies on my mind, it’s so much more than that. There are so many people that need pharmacies and medication to help them live and be normal, medications that manage their already occurring health problems. 

While these are the biggest things that are hitting the news right now, there are some things that aren’t being mentioned with all the school closings being listed, the restaurant closings and the non-essential stores being closed. It’s the little things that are implicated because of the mass shutdowns of certain complexes that weigh heavy on my heart too.

For most adults not in college, they see school closings as “just part of this time,” a pause in life that isn’t really affecting them unless they have kids at college or in K-12. However, for me, a college senior, school closings are so much more than just a pause in my life. 

For years I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now. I spent endless nights cramming and studying my gen-ed classes. I’ve worked my ass off designing some of the best brands I’ve ever done in my time as a designer. I was an RA and sacrificed my mental and physical health for two years in order to pay my way through college with minimal loans and not put any of the financial burden on my parents. 

I may not be Valedictorian of my class of thousands of students, but I put my blood, sweat and tears into getting this degree, and while that may not be taken from me all of my last experiences have been. 

I walked out of class on the Tuesday before Spring Break thinking that I would be coming back a week later to continue my education. Then all hell broke loose. I never got to say goodbye to the people in my class that have spent so many nights with me working on projects, building structures, and putting together last minute art spreads. 

My last goodbyes, that were supposed to be tearfilled with lots of smiles and hugs, are gone. The words of wisdom from my teachers on my last day of finals will forever be changed. My portfolio review may never happen and the job networking session that so many other seniors before me were able to partake in, may never occur. Not only is all this happening, but with gatherings of more than 100 people banned and gatherings of any kind on my college campus banned there is a pretty damn good chance that I won’t get to walk at my college graduation. 

If that didn’t hit hard enough, please read this again.

I won’t get to walk at my college graduation. 

I am the first person in my family on my mom’s side to graduate from college and I won’t have the ability to walk across that stage with my family in the audience cheering me on as I get my Bachelors degree. 

I know this may seem like a small problem in the grand scheme of things that is occuring right now, but I can’t help how I’m feeling. My last, last day of school may never happen the way it should have. It was taken from me abruptly, my last 7 weeks of college are now forever altered. Not to mention now all of my classes are now to be done online?

If I wanted to take a design course online I would have, but our courses are structured around in-person critiques to get feedback to make us better at our craft. It’s not like other majors were you study and memorize stuff to pass a test to get a job where you may never use half of what you learn. My major is my livelihood, it’s a craft and a talent that has to be honed. How am I supposed to do that if everything is viewed on screen and we can’t actually see print items at the size they are truly meant for?

Now, I know there will be people who say to suck it up and deal because there are bigger things going on right now, and believe me I know. I understand the severity of everything that is going on right now and I’m not immune to the dangers it presents. However, I am allowed to be upset, sad and scared about everything that is going on right now. 

It’s hard to think about what’s going to happen next in the current state of this world. I guess for me, it makes it easier to focus on the smaller stuff that isn’t as “important” to the rest of the world so that my anxiety doesn’t cause a panic attack. So please, the next time you judge your child for crying because they won’t get a senior prom, or because their first middle school dance was cancelled or they can’t see “the love of their life” because we are all on quarantine, realize that they are human and can only cope with things on their immediate level because if they think about the bigger picture, they may break in the process of having to grow up too fast. 

I feel for all the people out there who are trying to cope with this pandemic as hits. We are all trying our best to make do. In this time of need we shouldn’t be tearing people down for their decisions or bashing them because they care too much about the little stuff. It may just be their way of handling the unthinkable. 

I never in my lifetime ever thought I would have to face something like this.

I was born in 1998. Let me explain what that means to me.

It means that for 3 years of my life, I lived in a naive world of hope and dreams. It meant that in 2001 when tragedy struck the world on 9/11, I lived through it. I entered a world where from then on, on that date my school had a flag at half staff and teachers that showed horrific videos detailing the events of that day. That meant that in 2008, I was 10 years old, watching my family struggle for the first time when the recession hit. It means that growing up in 2016, my first presidential election had Trump as a candidate. Now, it means graduating from college into a world wide pandemic. And those are just the things that the world faced, not to mention my own personal struggles in this lifetime, but that’s a topic for another day.

So, believe me when I say, let people focus on the things they can control or the small things they can be upset or sad about. Because, once they look at the state of the world right now it will be hard for some to compartmentalize and get through this without going insane. 

This is not a time to judge or fight. We shouldn’t be screaming in parking lots and elbowing people out of the way to buy 12 packs of toilet paper or water. We should be sharing and lending a hand to everyone. It’s hard to survive a natural disaster if noone is willing to lend a hand and help those in need during this time. It’s not an if, the COVID-19 will hit your area. It’s a when. 

When it hits, I want to be part of a community that helps each other. That when food is low and someone needs a glass of milk for their baby or diapers for their toddler or even advil for their loved one who has a headache from crying, we can go to each other and call on one another for help. We may not be able to gather in large areas, but we can still be neighbors and be humans who understand each other and help those in need. 

Please if you can, provide relief to those who need it. Whether it’s a sandwich or $5 to help pay for baby formula. You never know how much of a difference you can make to someone if you pay it forward. 

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