OPINION: 2020, What Now?

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Erin Chance
CONTRIBUTOR

“(E)very time I complained about how I didn’t want to do an assignment and that it felt pointless, my partner would be there to remind me that it wouldn’t always be like this.” Photo courtesy of Erin Chance.

I remember New Year’s Eve 2019, the night before 2020, like it was yesterday. My partner and I were attending a house party with friends to ring in the New Year but little did we know what kind of year we had ahead. I was ready to leave 2019 behind, I had all these goals and exciting trips with family and friends planned.

As 2020 continued, a nightmare unfolded. All those goals and trips became a dream for someone else. The reality was that COVID-19 was here and didn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

Spring 2020, I was a full-time student. Taking a very crucial and interactive course for my journalism and media communications (JMC) major, capstone I. For JMC majors, our capstone is a live weekly news broadcast, The Omaha News, and it’s two semesters long.

Talks of classes being transitioned to online learning were circulating at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). I wondered how we could possibly produce a news broadcast without meeting in person. And we didn’t for the rest of the semester. We only got to produce one or two shows before all campus courses were moved to online learning.

It was daunting to be learning online completely. I had taken online courses before but the intensity of the classes I was taking seemed impossible to handle on a computer by myself.

However, every professor I had made sure their students knew they weren’t alone. My professors made it clear that they understood the challenges of switching to online learning in the middle of a semester. They immediately started adapting assignments and course material to our new learning situation.

If it weren’t for my teachers being so open about the transition and understanding, I don’t think I would’ve made it through the semester. The professors at UNO had a big challenge last year, and they definitely succeeded.

Once classes were moved to online learning, COVID-19 had taken over. A year ago, this month, we were told to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people, and then we were told to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Quarantine started.

When you’re home constantly time moves much different. Looking out my living room window made me feel like I was watching the world pass by. No more family gatherings, no more class and no seeing friends. Seeing classmates over Zoom just wasn’t the same.

Thankfully, I had a roommate, and my partner had pretty much moved in. We kept each other sane, and binge watched every movie series we could think of. We did go grocery shopping every once in a while but we mostly had to have them delivered.

I wanted to use the pandemic as an excuse to give up on school because it felt like the world was ending. It was hard to see any reason in a degree when I couldn’t even see my teachers or peers in person.

It felt pointless because life didn’t feel real anymore. It felt as if I had no connection to the world and the people in it. I thrive on my interactions with people, as I’m sure many people do.

But every time I complained about how I didn’t want to do an assignment and that if felt pointless, my partner would be there to remind me that it wouldn’t always be like this. No matter how bad I wanted to deny it, she was right.

She showed me that we weren’t alone. Everyone was feeling similar. Even if we couldn’t be there physically for friends, family, professors and peers we were there for them spiritually, and they were too.

When I look back to last year, I see someone who had no idea how resilient the human race was. Despite all the sickness, all the loss, we embraced it and chose to keep going.

And although 2020 brought me isolation and doubt. 2020 also brought me a new apartment, an adorable kitten and an engagement!

I can only hope that your 2020 was full of resilience too. That the good outweighed the bad.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected, and know that we will always have one another.

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