Student Chronicles, Part 2
This is the second installment of Student Chronicles in the Times of COVID-19. To view the inaugural one, click on https://www.desu.edu/news/2020/04/student-chronicles-times-covid-19
Stephan Browne-Blackman is a freshman Mass Communications major from Wilmington, Del., who submitted the following thoughtful essay on the Coronavirus and how he has been coping. He originally wrote this essay recently for his Feature Writing class.
Me, Myself, and Coronavirus
A personal dialogue by Stephan Browne-Blackman
You know, I never thought I’d be able to say that I’ve experienced a global pandemic before I even moved out of my mother’s house, but here we are. As we all know by now, COVID-19 (affectionately referred to as “the Rona”) has swept the nation. As much as I’ve tried not to let it affect me, I’m not sure if there is really a way to do that anymore.
Closer to the beginning of the pandemic, I will admit, I didn’t take it seriously. I still followed social distancing rules and tried not to go out in public too much, but at the same time, I wasn’t understanding why everybody was freaking out.
I remember going to the grocery store for the first time and being completely shocked by the length of the lines and the amounts of things in people’s carts. I distinctly remember waiting in line with my twelve items (yes, twelve. I counted. I had time.) and being surrounded by people with multiple carts full of groceries. Even through this, I was still confused as to why people were panicking so much.
Looking back, during that time, I can understand these peoples’ panic.
It’s something we’ve never experienced before. I suppose having everything you could possibly need gave these people security, a rare commodity during this time. But I didn’t feel like all of this preparation was necessary. If you buy what you need when you need it, you won’t have to worry about going out to the stores and not having anything available. Although, I can now see some flaws in this logic.
Now that it has been a couple of weeks though, I can say that life with Corona is so much different from life without. It has affected my personal, school and work-life, which is insane because I don’t even have it and it has affected my entire world.
In my personal life, somebody that I know has been afflicted with this awful illness. Although, I will say, the doctors are saying it is looking very good for her and this has caused me to be significantly less stressed about the situation. But it still saddens me that this isn’t the case for everybody. The fact that Coronavirus wasn’t even taken seriously by the literal president of the
United States is an entirely separate issue that makes my blood boil but it just goes to show how much nobody really could’ve expected this.
In my school life, it has become an uncharted territory for me. I now have a full set of online courses. I understand its purpose and I can see the value in continuing education. In fact, education is very important and it is an undervalued skill, I feel. I just don’t think this is fair for everybody. Due to the fact that we are in a literal pandemic, I can assume that there is a significant number of students who have much more to worry about than grades right now. Not only that, but the students who do not can’t all possibly flourish with online courses. I happen to be one of those students. I took two online courses during my fall semester and I ended up failing both of those courses. Online classes require an insane amount of discipline and self-motivation, both of which are skills that I find myself constantly having to work on. I prefer in-person courses. Now that that is no longer a luxury I am afforded, I am finding myself torn between any options I now have.
As a full-time worker, once again, I find myself trying to find time to fit everything into my day. I am lucky enough to now be working morning shifts so that I can attend my online courses that require weekly meetings once I’m done with my 8-hour shifts, but as you can assume, it is not ideal. And as much as I would love to take the unsolicited advice of strangers and work less, that is also not a luxury I find myself having access to.
As my personal life changed greatly pre-virus, I’ve learned that money is truly the only way you can get anywhere in life, both figuratively and literally.
You never really know when you will fall on hard times and need to be able to support yourself. I do not know where Corona will leave us all, but I do not want to be living above my means when we all find out. I do not say all of this to say that I cannot give up having nice things. I mean this to say that when Corona ends and life begins once again, I do not want to be 18 and in debt I’ve never had before. I do not want to be 18 and having to drop out of school because I cannot afford it. I do not want to be 18 and losing sleep over stress I shouldn’t have at this age. It may seem like I’m a stubborn teenager who doesn’t want to give up my only time outside during quarantine, but it’s so much more than that. This is our life now. I’m only doing my best to be prepared. (Although I will say, I am very happy with the way my doomsday prep has manifested itself in my being.)
In my work life, so much has changed. I work at an American chain convenience store. Because of this, I have been classed as an “essential worker” because we provide food and gas. The only thing is, considering the fact that I work there, I’ve noticed that some people are still not taking this seriously. To adapt, as a company, we have gotten rid of all self-service options and replaced them with full-service, all items are available in some form of protective packaging, all stores now have a customer limit, and we enforce the six-foot rule. However, I still see customers come out who seem to be out just for the sake of going somewhere. While I can understand that being inside all the time is draining, is there a reason you’ve decided to come here?
Just like anybody else, I understand how draining it is being inside. I promise, I really do. I spent almost my entire forming years inside, not being able to socialize. It was so tiring and draining and it prevented me from learning so many things I should have learned while I was still young enough to learn them. But besides all that, I feel like during a time like this, being around so many people, even if they are just store workers or strangers on their lunch break, isn’t something you should want. I understand that sometimes you have no choice. But for the people who come into my store and spend 20 minutes deciding between what chips they wanna bring to their friend’s house, my only question is: Why? Why expose yourself to these things when you don’t have to?
Maybe my perspective is tainted as a low-risk teenager in this whole mess but I, personally, cannot understand the need any longer. I do not fear going outside. I go to work every day, put my gloves on, and serve hundreds of people. I, however, do fear putting my family at risk. Despite how I may feel about them from time to time, I live with people who are high-risk. I try my best to take the necessary precautions. So much so, that I have developed dry skin all over my hands from washing them so much. I keep hand sanitizer everywhere. I try not to touch personal items in public unless I can wash my hands or sanitize them soon after. I just don’t understand how people come outside without any protection and continue to live life as if there is nothing to fear. You should not live life in fear. You should not be cowering at the thought of leaving your house. But you should be conscious of the newfound danger that is, quite literally, plaguing the nation and be a little more careful when interacting with other people.
Corona and I are seeming to have a more complex relationship than I thought. In the little free time that I have, I have rekindled old passions and began indulging in myself again. When I lived on campus, I had no money. That is the usual experience. But for me personally, I like to buy something every now and again to make myself smile. While living at DSU, I couldn’t do that. Now that I am working again and I am living off campus, I can. I am refraining from making large purchases in case I need that money later on, but little things can make me smile just as wide.
In all this mess, I’m finding myself coping better than I thought. Though there is so much to be upset about, I haven’t been as upset about it as I thought I would be. In fact, any upsets that I’ve had have been caused by anything but Corona (Surprising, right?). This is a tough time for everybody.
All I can really do is wish everybody luck and hope that most of us can make it out of this with our heads still on straight. I’m gonna try my best to be optimistic and I urge anybody else in the same boat as me to do the same. This is a new struggle for all of us. I can only hope there’s still an “us” afterward to become closer with. I am wishing everyone the best of luck with this virus