I know it’s been a hard few weeks with all the changes going on. Honestly, I never thought that we’d be here – with COVID-19 or with online classes. When discussions about a two-week quarantine after Spring Break were swirling, I was the first to say that I didn’t think it would happen. I was wrong. When Messiah decided to move classes online for the rest of the semester, like most of you, I was a little heartbroken.
These are hard, stressful and confusing times for all of us. That’s why I wanted to write this letter to everyone. Several of you have probably read our updates as Messiah sends more emails and makes more changes. It’s informative, but it’s not very personal. I wanted to take a few minutes to reach out to all of you personally to encourage and affirm everyone.
As a senior, I had all these grand plans for what my final semester was going to look like. I had a list of things I was going to do and achieve, none of which are happening anymore. It was really hard to face all of that. International Gala, the Footprintz show, the May issue of the Swinging Bridge Magazine and graduation – it’s all different now.
I wanted to carry my country’s flag for the last time at the International Gala. I was excited to perform a routine that I was proud of for the Footprintz show. The May issue of the magazine was going to be my last physical legacy. And I was going to walk at graduation for the first time after being homeschooled all my life – something neither of my parents had the chance to do.
Realizing that most of that wouldn’t happen in the same way anymore hit me hard. I’ll say it – I cried over the loss of these events.
My feelings about this are all because these events are important to me. I’m sure you’re frustrated about a lot of things too. It’s okay and it’s perfectly valid. We all had important things that changed without much notice, and with the way things are now, it’s hard to say when “normal” will return.
One thing I am very grateful for is that Messiah’s administrators have truly done their best to keep us informed and updated. I’m not saying that because I get paid as Editor-in-Chief of their student media; I truly believe that they’ve done so much that I can’t begin to understand. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated at not having more information, but I’m also not the one making decisions for an entire college of students and staff members. And as I write each new update that they give us, it makes me realize how much the College has tried to show that they care. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way, I know that their decisions are carefully thought out with our best interests in mind.
As I say all this, I know that it comes from a certain place of privilege. I’m lucky to be able to live off-campus and have all my things with me. I’m lucky to still have a job when many others had to give theirs up now that they’re home. I’m grateful that I’m able to have this, and I know that’s not the case for everyone else.
We’re all upset about how COVID-19 has affected us. No matter the reason you’re upset, it’s real and it’s valid. You should be upset because it meant something to you. It’s okay to feel upset, angry even. I’ve certainly felt angry about all the changes to my plans. There’s nothing wrong with it.
What I’m trying to do during this time is find a new normal. I’m trying to get back into a better routine after slightly (maybe more than slightly) messing up my sleep schedule over Spring Break. I’m trying to get used to being a homeschooler again after three and a half years of being in a classroom. I’m even trying to keep up with exercising and all the things I would normally do when I’m not at school. It’s helped.
In the midst of all this, I’ve found myself choosing to make things work for me. I plan on wearing my national costume around my apartment on the day the International Gala was supposed to be. You can bet that I’ll put on show makeup on the day the Footprintz show was scheduled for. And I will still be excited about the May issue of the magazine when it appears online.
It wasn’t until I talked with my family over the weekend that I truly realized how much I still had to make of my last few months as a senior and how grateful I should be for what I still have.
Although many of the events I was looking forward to aren’t going to happen anymore, that doesn’t have to stop me from celebrating them. It shouldn’t stop you from celebrating things you were looking forward to either. I still plan on dressing up for the International Gala, even if just to walk around my apartment. I’ll still wear my Footprintz show costume to dance around in my apartment. And you can bet that I’m still going to be excited for the final issue of the magazine in May.
My dad told me something this weekend that helped a lot. Even though it’s cheesy and stereotypically Christian, this is a time to focus on our relationship with God. It’s a time to lean into His Word and spend time building on a relationship that can easily be neglected when we’re at school. As His children, we’re welcome to voice our frustrations and say the things we might not tell another person. God wants to hear us talking to him honestly and this is as good a time as any to begin. He’s our support system as much as the people in our lives are.
These last six weeks of my senior year are different than what I imagined, but I’m going to make the most of it. I’m going to finish my classes to the best of my ability, celebrate the things that are important to me, work my butt off to make the May issue as perfect as it can be, use this time to refocus my relationship with God, and push myself to be more creative in my spare time.
These are the things I’m doing to find a new normal, and I hope some of it helps you find yours too.