The history-making present that we’re all living through is mainly characterized as terrifying and lonely. While we are living with a sense of fear for our immunocompromised and elderly loved ones, and lacking our normal routines and socialization, life can feel like it has frozen.
In addition to this, many Montevallo students feel a deep sense of loss for long anticipated projects and events that have dissolved with very little notice. In the midst of so much mourning and adjustment, it can be really difficult to find positivity.
It took me about a week to learn to cope with my new situation, and now that our two-week spring break has ended, I am taking time to reflect on what good things are happening in my new world. What are the positives that this situation has brought?
Though I sincerely acknowledge the severity of the situation, we must remember that it will end, and in order to make it to this end, we must learn to find our silver linings. Think of your life as a wagon in Oregon Trail, and to make it through you must keep morale up!
So, what are these positives?
First of all, I have begun to see a sense of increased intentionality with my relationships. When I was living in my dorm, I tended to run into and hang out with my friends in a kind of routine way. I had breakfast every Monday with one person; I studied with another on the nights that he was in a dorm common area.
Before this abrupt break, when I didn’t simply “run into” my friends I tended to not hang out with them. Now that I can’t run into my friends, I have to learn to reach out.
Though I miss the closeness and ease of relationships where I could just randomly find my friends and hang out with them, I am learning to appreciate distance because of its ability to make me more intentional about connecting with the people I care about.
The next positive I have noticed is that I have time to emotionally process and truly take time to think. In my daily life, I often get so busy that I do not take time to really think and feel what I am going through in life. Because I don’t have distractions anymore, I find myself spending time evaluating the relationships in my life, processing last semester’s memories and considering what I want in the future.
Especially when it comes to relationships, I am a huge advocate of considering what boundaries you like and what benefits you want (in both romantic and platonic relationships). Since so many of my relationships have paused, now I can evaluate which of them are beneficial. When I have evaluated, I can move forward positively instead of blindly continuing bad relationships or letting good one’s drift away.
Another positive I have found is the enormous amount of time that is free! Now, this free time does come as a blessing and a curse. It can be difficult to fill up every day without going out and doing our daily business. Thankfully, I have found this time to be a blessing because I have been able to both pursue personal artwork and actually clean my house.
I don’t think I made a finished piece of full-sized art that wasn’t for a class this whole school year, which is a huge departure from my experience in high school. Adjusting to life as a college freshman hit me hard and left me without the energy to do the thing that I love the most.
Now that I don’t have the pressure of classes or the distractions of campus, I have been able to pursue personal painting. This has been a huge stress-reliver for me, and I am so happy I have been able to revive my love of art, especially as I’ve recently switched to an art major, which, yes, you can do online.
The main thing I have been doing during our extra-long break is go through all my old stuff. I have three siblings and a problem with accepting every hand-me-down offered to me, which caused quite the stockpile of junk. My closet at home held a monumental amount of old winter coats, – not mine – family board games – not mine – and extra linens – still not mine.
Though I have lived in my room with the same junk for many years, this quarantine gave me the time I needed to sort through and get rid of it! When I got back to my house from my dorm, I had the feeling that I had left home rather than returning – I get very attached to my room décor, I admit it. Reorganizing and redoing my bedroom to feel more like me helped me feel at home in my own house again.
The present is scary. This virus and quarantine have served as an abrupt reminder that as hard as we try, we do not ultimately control our own lives. What we can try and control is our reaction and attitude, which we can do by finding the positives in our situation. For many of us with extra extenuating circumstances or mental illness, this can be much easier said than done, but I truly believe it is a task worth doing.
Today, make a list. Find out what you enjoy about the present and allow yourself to find some peace in these troubling times. We will make it through.
Anna Grace Askelson is a writer for The Alabamian. She is a second-year art major with a passion for writing, fashion and design.