Adjusting to Some Sort of Normal

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This third week of being on quarantine has honestly flown by faster than the previous two.

Whereas the first two weeks were filled primarily with sadness, I’ve moved towards a more mellow, consistent mood. I don’t go through the same moments of excitement that I did go through about looking forward to something that is no longer feasible. I am slowly spending less time reminiscing (although I don’t think that will completely go away) and spent more time trying to understand the true implications of these circumstances on communities that will be harmed the most. Looking towards how states are poorly supporting and releasing the incarcerated people who will continue to suffer at the outbreak in prisons, looking at black communities that have already begun to be devastated from a lack of access to quality health care.

If there were one thing though that I have realized the clearest in this past week, it’s that I’m slowly reaching the final stage of grief: acceptance.

I don’t know why I am reaching this point now as opposed to earlier or later, but my fear of the inevitable has now been superseded by the importance to be prepared to deal with what I can control in my life. With classes starting on Monday (on a two-hour time zone difference), along with scrambling to figure out summer plans remotely, there are so many things I can control that will affect me directly that I just gotta work towards doing. With this comes an obvious level of privilege of course. I know I don’t have to stress about getting a job at this immediate time nor do I have to fear for the safety of my family at this time. At this point, what is going to be the biggest challenge is something I know many of my friends and peers all will have to struggle with: having to focus on being a student amidst these trying times.

UChicago changed almost nothing with regard to our grading policies for this quarter. Yes, they said core and major/minor classes could be taken for credit pass/fail, but that is ultimately left up to different departments. I had already planned on taking all of my classes for a normal grade, but I do acknowledge that again this is a privilege. Some peers may be dealing with serious trauma and academic setbacks with the virus, and it is unfair to uphold such an overbearing standard for everyone. I haven’t spent too much time thinking about what would work better, but at least a universal pass/fail system would be better off for those students. But for many, we were planning on already accepting that this quarter will be harder just under the circumstances we have to learn in. The point in a policy like this is to support those students who will be affected the most in these times, not just let less affected people continue to operate at normal at the expense of those dealing with more serious issues. But I digress.

I keep harping on privilege during these times mainly out of a desire to help push everyone to evaluate how we can step away from what is affecting us. I take multiple moments throughout the day to remember that for many of us, the worst of these next seven months is not going out everywhere, being bored, and studying at home. That in a pandemic is the best-case scenario. I don’t want to feel bad for the fact that I will hopefully be okay, but I do this to continue to make the most of the place I am in all of this right now.

My biggest challenge as I start classes up next week is just one thing and one thing alone: focusing and being able to study at home. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot and have not ever been able to study in the same place I relax or sleep. I never studied in my dorm so far in college, and as soon as I could drive, I never studied at home in high school. For me, I see this as my personal goal to figure out what I can do to be the student I know I can be. Just as I had to adjust to being a college student, being a student at home will be a reality I know many of us are going to adjust to together for the next two and a half months till June.

I’m slowly becoming a bit more hopeful overall. I don’t mean in the sense that I know things will get better, which I realize will be way later than I think everyone imagines. But I am hopeful in the fact that for the people I do care about, we are all doing what we can to just stay as safe as we can. Whether that means staying at home or finding fun hobbies, I am hopeful that we can adjust to this new normal. It is okay for us to all be scared now and then, but if we can slowly begin to realize that we can adjust and adapt to the new reality, it will just make spring quarter at least a little bit better.

Being Noah Tesfaye #125: Adjusting to Some Sort of Normal

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Just someone trying to share my story and find who I am, one post at a time

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