OP-ED: Coronavirus anxiety is reasonable, but we can grow through it

Courtesy of Mary Long/Adobe Stock.

By Ellyn Fritz || Staff Writer

In February, the majority of the news pieces I wrote for The College Reporter were based on either caucuses or coronavirus. At that point, the Democratic primaries were front and center as Bernie, Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Warren were vying for the Democratic Party nominee. This felt like the biggest story in the world. While I was struggling to survive midterms, Coronavirus seemed like a far off problem that I could easily push to the back of my head. Despite regularly researching the status of China and other countries as coronavirus exponentially grew across the globe, I remained naive, thinking that my friends, summer plans, and fall study abroad would remain seemingly unaffected and protected by the microcosm of F&M. 

Flash forward a month.

I am sitting in my dining room on FaceTime with my roommate, pretending that we are in Martin trying to work ahead for the weekend, despite the fact that weekends quite candidly no longer exist as we are living in a live rendition of Groundhog’s Day. Zoom after zoom, I think we have all contemplated the effectiveness of online learning, had mini to massive breakdowns and panicked over the lack of clarity of what life will look like in the coming months. 

As we struggle to accept our new reality, there are definite growing pains. We all must re-learn how to live full-time at home with parents and siblings, maintain a somewhat realistic sleep schedule, and adapt to the rapidly changing actuality of the next six months. Will I have an internship this summer? When will I see my friends next? Will I be able to go abroad in the fall? Will all classes be online in the fall? And if I am online for classes in the fall, will I decide to go abroad in the spring and not be on campus for over a year? The anxiety-provoking list of unknowns is endless. 

Although many adults, including my family, are trying to reassure my generation that everything will be fine at the end of quarantine, I think it is fair that many current college students are panicking. This is true whether it is over the economy, time spent on campus, P/NP and the impact that has on the viability of their resume and worthwhile starting careers or applying to postgraduate programs. Having seen the challenges graduates faced entering the workforce after the 2009 recession, we have a heightened awareness of how the job market post-coronavirus will affect our future.

I already over-analyze most aspects of my life. If you are at all similar, lying wide awake in the middle of the night trying to picture where you will be in one year, three months, or even a few hours might also be plaguing you. When life was ‘normal,’ people were afflicted with different types of anxieties. Yes, finals week brought out the worst due to caffeine shakes, yet everyone’s anxiousness was resolved by different cumulative exams. This time, the entire country has one common goal: to make it to the other side, together. Knowing this eases my hamster wheel of a brain as collectively we will work together to return to a sense of normalcy. 

Moving from a macro to a micro perspective, we can also all count on the fact that when we are able to return to campus and safely see one another, the energy and excitement will be off the charts. No one in our lifetimes will ever take for granted time spent with friends or the ability to sit with fellow students in a real classroom ever again. For those of us who have and have not faced personal adversity, this experience will teach that we can get through hard times and for the generation characterized by instant gratification, we can cope with unknowns.

Sophomore Ellyn Fritz is a Staff Writer. Her email is efritz@fandm.edu.

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