Your phone beeps and it’s 7 a.m.
Sit up, stretch, and mentally prepare yourself for the jam-packed day ahead of you. Reach for your book and skim over the reading that you fell asleep on last night.
Text your friends and tell them you booked the Airbnb for senior week.
E-mail your boss to let her know that you will be at work in the afternoon.
Slip on your tennis shoes and run out the door so that you can get a full workout at the gym before going to class.
Refresh your email to see if that job you wanted actually got back to you.
Take short shower, grab your keys, and run out the door.
Call your friend to tell her to meet you at the dining hall for breakfast.
Being a senior in college is already like dancing in a blissful storm of confusion. Your life is all about finding balance, even when you’re in the midst of uncertainty.
You wonder, how do I balance writing history papers with writing cover letters? How do I balance the fear of taking the risk with the desire to take the challenge? How do I balance the pressure that I feel from other people to get a “real job” with the dreams and aspirations that I am drafting in my head? How?
Despite the anxiety, the imperfect nights, the mistakes, the tears, the sighs of frustration, you are promised that you will get through it and to cherish the time you have left at this place. You buy into it, you believe them.
Read advice from Grace’s mom, WBAL-TV news reporter Lisa Robinson.
For the Class of 2020, this faith was shattered during the first few weeks of March when colleges and universities across the country made the tough decision to move to online classes and to send students home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With those decisions, the balance that you had been trying to find was eliminated completely because your everyday routine was lost.
Instead of reaching for your textbook you were reaching for your phone to see national news updates. Instead of confirming Airbnb reservations for Senior Week you were cancelling them.
You threw and attended mock graduations and end-of-the-semester parties in tight spaces in order to grieve the time you were losing with your friends with whom you have lived over the last four years.
Instead of jumping on flights to a spring break getaway, a rite of passage for the second semester senior, you were flying to your parents’ house and moving back into your childhood rooms. Instead of sharing meals in the dining hall with friends, you had to practice social distancing and eat by yourself.
You compulsively cleaned surfaces and washed your hands because you were genuinely scared of contracting the virus and passing it to someone who was at more risk.
Needless to say, for the college senior, March has been devastating.
You are told that things might even feel easier in light of the pandemic; professors will modify course load. Your on-campus jobs are cancelled. Through social distancing, you finally can calm down. You can get a break.
But it’s hard because within that blissful storm of confusion and imperfect balance that is college, you found yourself and your purpose. Who you are, what drives you to wake up in the morning, what you don’t like, and where you want to go in life.
Because college can be so hard sometimes, you had not realized how those events, that schedule, those people, these places had inspired you and your future. Now you know that you may never see some people in your class again and that the end to the last four years of your education would not be formally celebrated.
On the other hand, we knew that graduation day would come. The end of undergrad was not a mystery. You think this to yourself, but it’s like running and then falling. You always knew you would stop running, but you thought it would be planned, not abrupt. Gentle and not rough. This hurts in ways you don’t expect.
You find yourself crying while packing and finding that old note a friend wrote for you during sophomore year when you were going through a tough time.
You find yourself panicking over interacting with a person who could have exposed you to the virus.
You are frustrated when you are drained of money, because you have spent it all on shipping, plane tickets and storage.
You are grieving for the thesis that you poured your heart into, that will not be finished because it would be impossible to test participants remotely.
People fill your ears with apologies, condolences and regrets that this had to happen to you. You thank them, but you still don’t know what to do.
You don’t know what kind of world this is. You want to know what the future holds for you, but right now it is uncertain. Who could have predicted this? No one. No one knew and no one can take the blame.
I am writing to you, the Class of 2020, to recognize all that you are going through, because I am one of you and I am grieving, too. And it hurts.