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“The burden of the journey is lifted by those we share it with” anonymous. Together, every single human being, every single person you know is living through a shared burden. Relating to others is often how we learn to cope with a crisis, so I thought I’d share some experiences of some of my peers, who attend the University of New England, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are on this journey discovering how to cope with monumental challenges that are changing the very fabric of our society. For many of us, we have seen the darkest hour, for others, it has yet to come. But the dark doesn’t seem so lonely and scary when we all share our candlelight. One candle may not shine bright, but together, we can brighten even the darkest night. Through shared experience, we feel less alone because while we all may be physically separate, never before have we all been closer in our feeling as human beings.
It’s important to acknowledge what we miss from life before the pandemic and to share our unique challenges; but, also to share our unique triumphs that have arisen because of our current circumstances.
Kaelin Celgelski, a sophomore communications student at the University of New England shares with me that it’s hard to find purpose in each day when stuck in the same indoor routine day after day. With each day feeling like the one before it, it can be hard to find the purpose of getting out of bed and starting the routine again. That’s only natural. We are not used to living a clockwork life, we thrive off of the spontaneity and the chaos that makes it exciting. We’re not used to living like this. What kept us motivated, whatever it may be, might be gone. So be kind to yourself, and do what you can to reignite that motivation. The first step is always the hardest.
Taylor Arnold, a sophomore Communications major as well, mentions,“ There are so many things that we took for granted, like going out for dinner, shopping in malls, and simply seeing loved ones.” So many of the simple joys of life were things that we took for granted because they had always been there for us. Nothing makes us more grateful for something than the absence of it. One day we will find ourselves in life post-pandemic; living in a different world with renewed gratitude. But for now, we have to find pleasure in simple things and be grateful for what we have.
Another aspect of living in quarantine that seems to be talked about all the time is dealing with heightened anxiety. Everyone copes with anxiety differently. It’s also important to acknowledge that the suffering caused by anxiety cannot be compared. Each person deals with things differently.
One coping strategy that was common among my peers and myself, was going for daily walks. As Kaelin puts it, “Another thing that I’ve been trying to do lately is simply getting out of the house and going for a walk. It’s what everyone is doing right now, but it really does work for me. Whether I go alone or with a friend, it’s a nice change of scenery.”
It’s relieving to enjoy the simple purpose of going on a walk to get some fresh air and have a change in scenery. Vitamin D is essential to our well being mentally and physically so going outside to the nearby park can really do wonders.
Another coping strategy is to get creative if you want to see your friends, Kaelin states that she will meet up with her best friend in separate cars, a safe distance away, and have conversations like that. “Ultimately I think it’s really important. Just getting to talk to another person, especially one who I am so close with, has really helped me to feel at ease in this situation,” she explained.
Opportunities can arise in the most unexpected ways. Even in a global pandemic, there is good that comes into our everyday lives. For me, an opportunity that quarantine has given me is time to dive into learning the guitar. I started back in January and was able to practice most days of the week before the pandemic, but now in quarantine, I notice my skill has increased exponentially as I give myself longer practice sessions.
Skills like that benefit from taking your time during learning; improvement comes with practice and consistency is key. I make sure to pick up the guitar every day, with no time frame in mind, and just practice for however long feels right. Some days it’s 15 minutes, others I find myself doing two separate hour-long sessions because I end up having so much fun.
Montana Stephen, a sophomore Marine Affairs Major, enjoyed a delightful experience recently. On Easter, she paraded around town with her family wearing festive Easter hats. Along the journey, a veteran organization member took a photo of them to help spread joy to other veterans. Montana was grateful for the experience, “If the virus was not here, then our family Easter hat parade would not have happened and our picture would not have been shared with veterans, in the hopes that a picture of my family wearing decorated Easter hats and signs may make their day better.”
Humanity is the result of thousands of years of survival. Each generation before us have faced unique challenges and survived, passing on their knowledge and intuition to the next generation. We are survivors. We are stronger than we know.
Talk to one another, find out how other people in your life cope in isolation. And if you have a good idea: share it with the world, you never know who you might impact. I write these articles each week knowing I’m not going to attract a large audience; but if I can make an impact on just one person, then it makes it all worth it to me.
Stay safe, stay healthy, take care of yourself, and we will get through this.