My first memory of hearing anything about Covid-19 was in January. I was sitting with my work friends, just before the start of my final semester ever at Trinity, and somebody told me that China had just built a hospital in 6 days. “6 days! Wow fair play to them, imagine if our health system was that efficient”, was all I really thought at the time. I went back to college, dove straight into dissertation mode, went to friends’ birthday parties, had lunch at the Buttery (far too often), had many late nights in the 24 hour library, and went to the pub – college life went on as normal.
Then, suddenly, the day I submitted my dissertation, college officially closed and the ball I was supposed to go to and celebrate at that night was cancelled – quite an anticlimactic feeling after handing in my dissertation! Within a few days we were asked to leave campus accommodation, so I booked my flight, said goodbye to my friends, my boyfriend, and to college. It hadn’t really sunk in that that was my last ever time in my room on campus or in Trinity as a student and, to be honest, it only really hit me today.
I would like to preface this by acknowledging how lucky I am. Firstly, I am young and healthy, I don’t have the virus and I don’t know anyone who has, and I haven’t lost any friends or family. Despite losing my job, and the fact that my parents are losing a lot of work, we have a warm flat and food in the cupboards, and we get along so well – I know that a lot of people are not this lucky. Furthermore, I’m not being asked to go fight in a war, we’re not being threatened with bombs, we’re being asked to stay home. So yes, things could of course be far, far worse!
Despite that, it is a bizarre time. There are so many uncertainties, fake news, rumors and change – all of which inevitably causes some anxiety. Money is probably the biggest source of this for me, as well as for so many other people who have lost their jobs, businesses and are dreading the global recession that is about to hit. But something else that has been playing on my mind is the abrupt end to my final year of college. For the last week since I’ve been home I have been in a mostly positive mindset. Having fun with my parents, playing virtual games of ‘Psych’ every night with my friends from college (play it now, it’s so fun) and trying to remain as positive
Firstly, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, but also because I kept reminding myself that this is shit for everyone – everyone has lost jobs, are missing loved ones and are feeling pretty nervous for the future, so it’s not just me. But today, for the first time since this started, I did feel shit. I did have a proper cry and spent 10 minutes feeling very sorry for myself. No more campus accommodation and living dead center in town, no Trinity Ball, no Psych ball, no evenings in the Pav as the days get warmer, no more library breaks with my friends, no more fun night outs with other Niteline Volunteers, no more soup at the Buttery, no more lectures with my course friends, no more being a student. I had been absolutely dreading finishing college this year, and suddenly it just finished with no real chance to say goodbye or make the most of the last few months.
What I want to get across is the importance of letting yourself acknowledge the disappointments, the inconvenience, the loneliness, the confusion and worry because those feelings and concerns are real. It’s important to let yourself feel them and not just ignore them and or push those thoughts down, because it’s going to be a long few weeks and those frustrations might come out in other ways. You’re allowed to not feel okay. It’s normal. It’s human. The more you allow yourself to accept it, the quicker and easier it is. As I said, I didn’t feel great this afternoon so I had a cry and chat with my dad, and then went for a lovely walk in the park, and immediately felt better and was able to let go of those feelings, just a little bit. Having said that, try not to dwell on the negatives. It is shit, but there are many good things that we are seeing in communities, with people trying to help each other and the benefits for the environment to name a few. At the end of the day, all most of us are being asked to do is sit at home and watch TV so yes, it could be worse.
Getting back to college, I’m lucky that all I have to do are three essays, before I finish my degree. I am not very good at studying at home and I am missing the library (never thought I would say that), but I have a checklist of what I need to do and by when, and I have a spot in my kitchen that I can work at and have told my parents I need to do work so they are aware and can hopefully help to motivate me. All in all, this is quite scary and not in any way what I thought 2020 was going to be like and it is okay to not feel great. Just because others have it worse, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel down. But if you have your health, food, a roof over your head and a way of communicating with friends and family then you are doing better than many, and try to remember that this will all be over soon enough.
P.S I have absolutely loved being the TCD Public Face for Niteline and if you ever have questions about the service or about volunteering please get in touch with me.
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