As a 23-year-old, I feel simultaneously optimistic and concerned as I am two weeks away from college graduation. What feels like what should be the prime time of my life feels like the closing chapter of a sci-film with the globe on lockdown and my academic career approaching a daunting conclusion. Commencement is canceled and will be streamed live online. By diploma will be mailed and my degree will enter by hands in an envelope with a postage stamp attached. I’m currently applying for only remote positions for work and more than ever, am grateful for ongoing freelance work. Life as we know it has drastically changed and the life I envision seems far out of reach in this time of stillness with our world on pause. In this season of online academics, digital internships, and social distancing, I wonder what is next, how our world will recover and what life will be like for me as a recent graduate entering a world forever changed by a single pandemic.
Being that I am already a university student online, I have an advantage at seclusion. However, the rate at which social interaction has declined has severely affected me along with the rest of society. The inability to see friends or family or even go to a restaurant are privileges I never even considered before. America suddenly feels unamerican – our small liberties have been suspended as we stay confined in our homes and remain medically prepared against this virus with masks and gloves. What should be the highlight of my college years seems to be a dim reminder that I am only human, life is short and what seems like the mundane are truly moments that should be cherished. With the economy taking hits, small businesses shutting down, and homes in foreclosure, it’s easy to be consumed with fear in these times of uncertainty. But aside from all the confusion, I am thankful for a place to live, food on the table and the loving people in my life. If anything, this situation has not only forced me to become a recluse, but a grateful for person for what matters most.
I know with whatever our nation faces, we will always remain conquerors. We are the home of the brave and there is nothing that can hold us back. We must maintain our faith and look forward with aspiration and courage, to resist doubt and aim for progress. Sure, things will be different when this nightmare ends, but it can be better, we can be better. I think it’s fair to say a hug from a friend can mean more after this and maybe the presence of a loved one sitting next to us can be appreciated like never before. If anything, this crisis has made me realize life is bigger than me and the small joys are truly what make it worth living.