Why I’m not upset about losing my first year of university to COVID-19

By   —   September 26, 2020   —   in Opinions

The last six months have not gone at all as I had planned — but I’m starting to look beyond myself and realize that there are worse things than missing Welcome Week.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I wish the pandemic hadn’t happened. I’ve had my fair share of irritation over the loss of my final few months of high school, missing my graduation ceremony, and missing the official start to university and adult life — a moment I have been waiting so long for. 

But, when I take a step back from my own personal life and look at the bigger picture, I realize that everything I’m giving up is for a very noble cause — keeping others safe. And this is true of not just me or my family, but for all of the people in my community.

I’m proud of myself for following public health guidelines. I wear a mask and social distance anytime I’m in a public space indoors. I only see people while distancing, almost always outdoors and in smaller groups.  And yes, for my community’s health, I’m alright not being able to attend school normally for my last semester of high school and my first year of post-secondary. 

Taking this perspective of positivity and empathy, in spite of living in a world that usually fights against those ideas, is the most radical thing I could do. To me, rebelling during a pandemic doesn’t mean saying “I’m going to keep doing what I’d like and this virus won’t stop me.” 

Instead, I’ve found it to mean that I’m not going to let the virus stop me from moving forward, but I’m going to keep living my life while also keeping others healthy, and with a stubborn smile on my face. As I said, radical. 

If you feel cheated of the memories you could have made in the last few months, try to think of how many more people in the world now have the opportunity to keep making memories for years to come. 

Remind yourself that wearing a mask is not as annoying as being in constant panic because you fear a quick trip to the grocery store could bring illness home to your family. You’re doing a small thing that could grant others some much-needed peace of mind. 

If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for, direct that unused gratitude towards the essential workers who are keeping our world running and saving lives every day. 

I know this is really tough, especially when you’re young and have a whole world to see and experience, but pause for a minute. Center yourself, and remember that this will pass. 

As someone who has struggled with anxiety for basically my entire life, I’ve discovered this approach to be much more beneficial for my mental health than to let Miss Rona get me down.

A few years from now, when we resume “normal” life, we will look back on this time with a sense of both relief and gratitude, not forgetting the sacrifice. But for now, however tempting it may be — and I do understand the temptation — please keep doing what you can to keep our communities safe, happy and healthy. That is going to make getting to some semblance of “normal” much quicker than ignoring protocols ever will.

I know you’ve probably heard this a million times and might be getting a little sick of it by now, but the only way we will get through this is together. I’m looking forward to eating out in restaurants again, and hugging my friends, and exploring more of our beautiful world. I’m working towards the day when all of that is possible again, with more reward than risk. Onward with positivity.

Beth Zentner

Graphic: Anh Phan | Design Editor

covid-19 first year pandemic student life
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