I find myself questioning every day if this is real life because it simply doesn’t feel quite like reality. Part of me combats with myself whether it is appropriate to complain about the things that I have lost since there are countless numbers of people who have lost their income, have run out of supplies, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the most devastating part of this: people are dying. Whenever I even think about feeling sad about my personal issues, I just remember that one iconic moment in Keeping Up With The Kardashians when Kim lost her diamond earring in the ocean and Kourtney flat out stated, “Kim, people are dying”, because that is actually our reality.
To put it simply, the world is in a weird place. For the first time in what feels like forever every single person around the world is sharing the same hardships, feelings, and doubts. Of course, my personal problems will never amount to the universal issues that we are all experiencing, but I also do not think that it is fair for someone to feel guilty about something they have lost that was extremely important to them. Between all of the chaos and self-isolation, which if you are not practicing please start doing so now, many people are struggling with coming to terms with reality, because nobody has experienced this kind of pandemic before and nobody knows what life is going to be like after it is gone. At a time where everyone is coming to terms with what they have lost and their future plans continuing to be canceled, I think that it is acceptable to internalize and understand our own losses, no matter how frivolous and non-essential they were.
Although COVID-19 has been around for months and I have been self-isolating to the point that I have lost track of the days, I still am just now starting to come to terms with my own losses. I am a part of the “forgotten class” that is the graduating class at universities and high schools across the world. We are the “lost” Class of 2020. Next month I am, ideally, graduating college and spreading my wings to enter into the adult world of bills, bills, taxes, and even more bills, but the sad part is that I actually am doing the opposite of that. While I am happy that my University made the difficult decision to move to online courses, I am now realizing how many socially defined ‘life experiences’ I will miss as a COVID-19 college graduate. My last spring break trip to Disney World was literally canceled while I was on the plane to Florida, I couldn’t hug my grandparents hello or goodbye the last time we visited even though I have no idea when I will see them again; I had to move out of my apartment in one day and back home; I didn’t get to say goodbye to any of my friends or professors; there were no senior photos, no senior-year sorority celebrations, no more last parties, and the ultimate blow to senior year is that our commencement--my undergraduate graduation ceremony--has been canceled. While there is the promise that the Class of 2020 will be able to walk in the fall, it still does not make up for all of the little parts of life I have missed and now will never experience. I can never get these moments back and they are lost forever. That is a hard pill to swallow as a 22-year old woman who loves to plan out her life and suppress every single one of her emotions.
The scariest part of this entire situation is that all of these little life moments that we as social creatures need to experience to thrive are being taken away from us. Loved ones not being able to say goodbye, hugging your friends, going to work, going to the movies, prom, graduations, meeting up with someone off of Tinder, grocery shopping, dating, etc.. The list goes on and on. I understand that my view of loss on COVID-19 may be controversial and sound demeaning towards those who have lost their lives, but my sorrow lies with everyone who has been directly affected.
My take on COVID-19 as a 22-year old is that it really sucks. There is nothing much that the world can do about it until there is a vaccine or way to control the pandemic, so all we can do is take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe. Wash your hands for 20 seconds every single time (some song recommendations include the chorus of Barbie Girl and Miss Jackson). Stay inside and if you must go to a public place please do your research on how to properly protect yourself. Make sure to sanitize surfaces and, especially, mail. Wash your hands, which I am repeating because apparently people were not washing their hands before the virus? Eventually, life will return to normal and COVID-19 will be something our children read in history books, but for now, we as a community must recognize how serious this pandemic is. Through crisis, we learn the power of community. The faster we stop ignoring that life needs to halt for a little bit of time the faster it will begin again, and it will begin again. This is not forever.