Taking the first step outside the house to go to university this year was unforgettable. It was the first time in a while where I stepped outside the house wearing something other than my sweatpants. Absorbing the sun’s rays while witnessing the world around me felt as if I was being recharged. I sat in my car and flipped through all the social media apps possible throughout the ride in anticipation of the first university-related post. I was a bird who had been trapped in a cage and was now spreading my wings to fly. I never thought hearing cars honking and the noise of traffic would bring such joy; it was a sign of life going back to normal. Although panicking about being late to class was stressful, it took my mind off of the global crisis we all are dealing with. As the university is allowing in-person classes I am starting to have a routine of waking up and getting dressed for the day ahead. There is still a fear of the unknown and a lot of uncertainty. While I have been meeting my friends and colleagues outside and going back to campus, I still have to wear a mask and constantly stop myself from hugging anyone which makes me wonder whether this is the new normal.
Ever since the pandemic started, I have had no sense of time. An entire school year was spent online where half of the time I was shopping online on my bed- which also became my workspace. Finally, my workspace has been shifted from the bed to the library where I enjoy spending most of my time. Initially, sitting in class and seeing people’s faces in person felt as if I was watching Zoom using 3D glasses. You could compare it to when in movies the characters jump off the screen.
However, entering university after the year online definitely increased my social anxiety. In the beginning, I was constantly thinking, ‘if only I was on zoom, I could turn my camera off so that no one would be able to see me.’ But the idea of reading physical books in class never seemed more exciting. Whenever I wanted to speak in class I was constantly looking for the unmute button on my laptop without realizing that I just needed to raise my hand. The internal boost of energy and motivation I got by studying on an actual campus was addicting. Every moment my eyes were away from my laptop I would be observing all the hustle and bustle around me: people ordering their food, walking down the stairs, or simply sleeping on the sofas and even seeing the spiraling sculptures floating above my head. I was enjoying every scene of this movie and it didn’t seem like it was ending anytime soon. During the pandemic, I had taken the experience of studying at campus and learning in classrooms for granted.
Although the future is scary, it also feels exciting because it can’t get any worse than this. Covid felt like something from a dystopian novel, a setting I did not even imagine in my worst nightmares. The future may be uncertain but by getting vaccinated, applying my Bath&BodyWorks hand sanitizer, and wearing my Georgetown mask, I have never felt more prepared. Hopefully, Covid goes away but until then, all I can do is hope for the best.
In the beginning, I did struggle with dealing with the pandemic. But I couldn’t turn to anyone because they were all in the same position as me. No one knew what this was and how to deal with it so who could I have turned to? But I realized that at the end of every dark storm is a bright rainbow. Most importantly, it has been a lesson for me about life always being unexpected and being grateful for the little things.