I remember first hearing about the virus in January. I got on Instagram one morning and saw many memes about it. I did not know what the memes were about, and I didn’t understand.
I asked my friends, and they told me about a new virus going around. Other viruses in the past, like Ebola, never even reached the U.S., so I just figured it wasn’t anything to worry about.
We began to discuss the virus in many of my classes, but I still just assumed we were discussing it as news and not something that would be personally affecting us. I did not realize the magnitude of what was happening until March when we were out for spring break and other students were speaking about how colleges were not letting students come back to school.
When I saw that the whole country was going to be personally affected by practicing social distancing is when I began to understand how widespread the virus really was.
I am fortunate that, as of right now, the virus has not affected anyone in my close-knit family. However, having to practice social distancing and self-quarantine has changed my life profoundly.
I pictured finishing out the rest of my freshman year normally, getting to be around my friends for a few more months, making new friends, meeting new people, living in the dorm, and just continuing to have the freshman college experience longer than I did.
I feel like I have been robbed of the full experience of freshman year, and I’m sure many people feel the same. People can’t graduate, can’t go to their senior prom, can’t be with a dying loved one, can’t get married, can’t show their newborn baby to family members, and are missing out on job opportunities.
The thing I’m most upset about is the loss of experience. I feel the time I have lost is something I will never be able to get back, and I will always wonder what could’ve happened or changed if I had been able to finish out the semester.
I planned on having a great summer this year. My friends and I wanted to experience a music festival, and travel to Paris for the first time. We had been planning these things for months and looking forward to them.
It is difficult to have many things to look forward to and then have them ripped away. Having experiences to look forward to is what keeps me motivated and optimistic, so it is significantly harder to practice self-motivation and positivity each day.
This virus could not have happened at a worse time for my family because my grandmother has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has applied to get into a nursing home.
However, because of the virus, the process to get into the nursing home is very lengthy, and she is far back on the waitlist. This leaves my mother as the caregiver, and I know that is difficult on her.
In high school, I loved to stay home and do nothing all day, but in college, I hardly had a free moment. At the time, I did not enjoy having little time to myself. However, now that I do not have that anymore, I realize I took that for granted, and that I was lucky to always be busy doing something productive. It is hard to go from a full schedule to having to stay at home, not going to anywhere other than the grocery store or to pick up food.
I am quarantining from my home in Mobile, and it is harder than I thought to get adjusted to online classes, mostly because it has been difficult to motivate myself. I normally come home from school for a break or for the weekend, and it is usually my time to relax with my family. Doing classes from home disrupts that and makes it hard to sit down and do classwork when I want to have this time to myself.
My fear is that the virus will continue to run rampant, countries will have to spend months controlling it, and it will further ruin experiences. My hopes for this virus is that it runs its course, or a vaccine is found to end social distancing.
My only advice to people right now is to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Normally when something bad happens, I find the light at the end of the tunnel and find a way to overcome it. This has been a difficult experience to overcome and remain positive. Even in my efforts, I find days that I am still down about it.
The only thing I try to work on each day is self-care and not giving into a pattern of becoming unmotivated and unproductive. I try to keep up with little things that may sound like common sense, but can be very hard to maintain when you lack motivation.
I try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every night and starting my day early every day. I give a certain amount of time to myself each day to lay out in the sun.
I try to practice something I enjoy like drawing, scrolling on Pinterest, or watching Netflix. I try to get at least half an hour of exercise each day, preferably outside.
I try to cook dinner for the family every night so that we can have family time at the end of the day. I try to Facetime my friends a few times a week so I can keep up those connections and have time to enjoy our conversations.
To say the least, this year has not turned out the way I envisioned it, but I am still trying to remain positive every day.
Molly Roberts, 20, is a freshman from Mobile, Alabama, who attended St. Paul’s Episcopal School for high school. Roberts came to UM to gain new experiences and become part of the School of Journalism and New Media.
With a major in integrated marketing communications and a minor in business, she hopes to pursue a career in marketing and journalism. Mass communications has been a long-term interest for Roberts, and in high school, she pursued this interest as a member of the school’s marketing team.
Roberts’ other interests include traveling, writing, photography, social media, graphic design, and fashion. She hopes to gain traveling experience through study abroad programs. Vogue’s YouTube videos and articles continue to fuel her interest in fashion writing.
Roberts is a member of the sorority Kappa Delta, and she lives by their commitment to building confidence and encouraging strong women. Her inspiration is Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, and she hopes to become a powerful, career-driven, hardworking woman.