It would be difficult to overstate the impact that this pandemic has had on modern life, on both a micro and macro scale. Rarely does an international virus disrupt daily life as relentlessly and in as many ways as the coronavirus has, especially in recent history. From watching wedding ceremonies through a screen rather than next to a loved one, to feeling a slight sense of anxiety each time we enter a grocery store, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many changes onto our lives, and these intrusions have rarely been convenient or popular. All in all, the pandemic has taken away a sense of control from all of us.
Mandated quarantining, mask wearing and isolating, while proven to be effective mitigation measures, have largely defined what life has looked like for the past year. Understandably, these measures have been regarded with great irritation and have caused great anxiety. Our world has lived in a constant state of wondering, “What if? What now? Could this get any worse?” COVID-19 has not only infected the people who physically contracted the virus, but it has also invaded the souls of all who have experienced COVID-era worries and frustrations that take over their mental, emotional and spiritual health.
It is time to regain a sense of control over the coronavirus. No matter what it takes from us, we are still in charge and responsible for our own attitude, thoughts and actions. We can choose to adopt a defeatist mindset and let the pandemic take a greater toll on human life than is necessary, or we can recognize that we can do better than that.
First, we want to acknowledge that change changes us. These instances and experiences from the past year have taken things away from us and caused us great heartache. And while we’re in a mad-dash to return to normalcy, we can’t forget to stop, reflect, grieve what we lost and also recount what we have gained. We, as a world, will not come out of something like this without anything to show for it, so may we acknowledge and fight for what can be salvaged and come to terms with what may have changed permanently, and possibly for the good.
Secondly, throughout it all, we have had each other. COVID-19 cannot take these meaningful relationships from us. It may have changed how we were able to communicate with one another, it may have kept us 6 feet apart from one another, but it cannot touch those deeply rooted bonds that tie us together, unless we let it.
COVID-19 shook us, stretched us, pushed us and pulled us. It is OK to grieve the past year’s occurrences — both big and small. It is OK, and likely necessary, to even grieve the things we never had or got because of the coronavirus. Let us pay tribute to those things, acknowledge how they molded us and affected us, but let us go beyond merely dwelling on things lost. We hope that we, as a University and as a world, can realize how resilient we are. We have endured a great deal and learned how to weather the weather of a tumultuous storm. May we start the process of healing and take our battered spirits to a new phase of growth. May we come to accept that which was never in our control, and take hold of what is ours to control.