I’m sure I can speak for a lot of people when I say I am sick of hearing about COVID-19. I’m sick of opening my phone to countless news articles, texts from friends and family with information, and reading tired and overdone blog posts about the “new normal.”
The reality is that this is not normal, but that doesn’t mean it has to consume every piece of media we consume and every conversation we have.
Just over 18 months ago, I don’t think I had even uttered the words “coronavirus.”
I was a second-semester freshman who was navigating what seemed to be the most formative period of college.
I had faced little to no worries about the future beyond the next day. My mind was working on a day-to-day basis, preoccupied with the simplicities of what felt, at the time, to be tremendous burdens.
How would I balance finishing classwork, maintaining friendships and staying involved? It seemed so trivial looking back in just a few weeks, when everything I found at Lehigh slipped away into what presented itself as a never-ending abyss of worry.
How can we as a community move forward after such a traumatic shared experience? To some, COVID-19 took the lives of our most cherished family members and closest friends. To others, it took something that feels almost as painful as a death— the loss of our youth.
Yet, there seems to be new life being breathed into campus, restoring a sense of hope for the future. The key to maintaining this is to focus on positivity and what’s left to come because there is so much more.
I remember the joy I felt walking through campus freshman year, from seeing a familiar face to simply just enjoying the views. And finally, I feel that returning.
Our day-to-day life is already so heavily dependent on something relatively out of our control; the existence of COVID-19 will not cease to exist because we say so.
Instead, let’s focus on what we can control: We can control our outlook on it, as well as how we chose to return from it. Will you let this destroy you or give you new possibilities? With a little bit of optimism, life as we once knew it may return.
For the last 18 months, I found myself reliving the past, savoring those moments while grieving their demise. Now, with just slightly more freedom, I have been able to make tenfold the number of memories I once had, despite the different circumstances.
These new treasures influence me to look forward to what’s to come, not what has already been. While reminiscing provides momentary solace, it acts as a constant reminder of what is no longer. What reason is there for us to wallow in the self-pity of loss when the future’s so bright?
The smallest things can become the most special moments. Something as simple as sitting with friends in the library or walking to the mail center holds beauty in its company. If my high school self saw me now, she would most likely be shocked to see the friends I have met during my time at Lehigh.
Even amidst the pandemic, I found myself meeting so many people who all hold such special places in my life.
Strangely, the unexpected course of my sophomore year could be seen as a blessing in disguise, allowing me to form a multitude of unexpected amazing friendships and memories in ways I probably (or hopefully) won’t have to again.
Even now, I am so grateful to be living in a house with 50 of my friends.
How many times in life do you have that opportunity? Less than a year ago, I never would have thought that living in my sorority house would be a reality amongst the raging pandemic, and yet, here we are.
Who knows what the world will look like in a year from now, but there is some comfort in knowing that the reality of today is so much brighter than what we would have expected.