surreal but very real

“In the rush to get back to normal, use this time to decide which parts of normal are worth rushing back to”

dave hollis

The only word I have to describe our current situation is surreal. I recall talking about the corona virus in my classes before spring break. We thought nothing of it. Then we all leave for break and enter our own little worlds away from college. I myself was 12 hours away from Oneonta, not thinking about responsibilities, family, or school and certainly not a virus. I was totally present in enjoying my spring vacation at the beach and playing ultimate. But on the last day of the tournament, we start sticking our heads into the real world and find out that COVID-19 is serious and the college might be shutting down. My teammates and I were trying to wrap our heads around what was happening. We were so separated from what was going on that it felt like we were in a simulation. While we lived out the last few days of freedom, we weren’t thinking that the world would be like it is right now. We were just trying to enjoy the warm weather and time with our friends to do whatever.

The next few days felt like a movie. Coming out of the best week of the year to having an extended break was like Christmas came early. But the joy didn’t last long before panic and fear set in. Everyone was trying to figure out where they were staying for the rest of the semester. There were so many questions that didn’t have answers. After driving 12 hours back to Oneonta, I was picked up by my parents the very next day and brought home. We packed up my dorm and said goodbye in less than an hour. One could’ve said we were on the run and it would be moments before we were found. You didn’t know that this would be the last time you saw someone for a while, you didn’t know that this would be the last of many lasts for a while or forever.

The next couple of weeks were disorienting and confusing. All you wanted to do was go out and about, or work, or see your friends, and the world is telling you no, you’re not allowed. Being someone who was having social interaction 20/7 to only seeing my family for the next who knows how long, was taking a toll on my mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s frustrating and you want to blame someone but who is there to blame? The measures that have been taken are said to be unnecessary but are they really? These are lives we are talking about! It’s difficult to understand but 6 feet apart is for protection. Sure you may not think you have it, but how would you know? What if you do have it, you can easily infect every single person you come in contact with and every person who comes in contact with something you touched? The reality of this disease is so abstract and abnormal that people don’t want to believe it but its real. Very, very real.

I don’t think a lot of people, especially in the beginning, entered reality. For many, this was something that would pass in a month, this was something that wasn’t affected them directly so it didn’t truly exist. But just because we are not face to face with COVID-19, it is very much a serious situation. People are still stuck in coming to terms with how their lives have changed and how all the measures that have been taken are for the good of the people. Until people stop focusing on the individual and start thinking about surviving this together, our world will remain in this state.

It is okay to have all the feelings. Frustration, sadness, depression, anxiety, fear. But also have happiness, love, excitement, pride, enjoyment. Accepting that this is how the world is at the moment and everyone is doing their best or should be doing their best during these times is so important. We can’t let ourselves get sucked into our negative emotions. Feel them, sit in them, but don’t let them consume you. Life has already been turned upside down, but you’re still alive, you’ve still got your future, so live your days for the ones you will have when this is over. Plan like you would if we were’t living in a pandemic and know that you may have to adjust those plans, but at least if you’re given the green light, you get to do what you were looking forward to do.

Once the light turns green, it’s so important to remember what it felt like to have your life turned upside down so quickly. We should focus on the problems that are actually serious. We should be grateful for the ones who stayed by our side through this all and be thankful for everything that we have. Yeah we want to get back to our old lives, but the world is changed permanently and it’s important to de-clutter ourselves so that we’re focusing on the parts that are worth the time, energy and resources that we put in.