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Reframing what seems like inevitable disappointment

Coping with my corona-cation by changing how I view the abrupt end to my time at the University

<p>Riley Creamer is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Riley Creamer is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

If I read one more thing about COVID-19, I’m going to lose it. But that’s not what this is about. This is about me, and what I’m thinking right now as a graduating third year who went on spring break looking forward to graduation, a spring musical and a bunch of other “lasts.” This is about my disappointment, my outlook and my decision to move back into my parents’ house for the time being.

First things first, I needed to decide where I was going to take my online classes, and I was privileged enough to have two options — I could be in my apartment in Charlottesville or at my parent’s house just three hours away. I considered loneliness, potential distractions and productivity when making my decision. I wanted so badly to stay in Charlottesville as long as possible, but these are really weird times. My mom and my dogs are helping me deal with that.

The emails are the next things I’ve had to deal with. Everyone — from my professors, to my leasing company, to that website I bought shoes from in 2014 — is emailing me, saying to wash my damn hands and be careful when I go out in public. The emails are so much that they feel meaningless. With my inbox a constant whirl of messages about Zoom, Collab and internet access, everything feels like it’s in chaos. 

But maybe it isn’t. When I got home from my spring break trip, I sat on the couch for two straight days, binge watching a medical “dramedy” on Netflix. I ate an entire box of Cheez-Its in that two-day span. I spent hours scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitter. I felt stuck. Everything in my world stopped moving. 

I don’t know where to go or what to do. I’m trying to give myself time for reflection, but it seems silly to worry about a school musical when people are dying. 

So, here we go — it’s OK to be disappointed. It’s OK to be disappointed, no matter how trivial your loss may seem. I’m disappointed over this musical not happening. I’m disappointed that I won’t get these last weeks in my old routine. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to walk by the Rotunda on my way to class, meet my friends at Bodo’s for lunch or go to the Student Activities Building for rehearsal. I’m even disappointed that I won’t cry in the Alderman bathroom again, look awkward running for the Outer Loop bus or spend my warm and sunny spring days in Clem studying for finals.

I’m disappointed, and that’s OK. 

I’m experiencing a different kind of disappointment that may not be as relatable — it’s only my third year at the University. I chose to graduate a year early because I had the credits to do so, and I’m planning on law school in the future. It was entirely my decision, and although I’m still confident in it, I’m a little bitter. I chose to cut my time here short, and this pandemic made it even shorter. 

As for the “lasts,” I guess I’ve already had a lot of them — my last day of college class, my last formal and my last University performance. The thing is, any one of my days at the University could have been my last. In a totally non-morbid way, this could happen at any time, to anyone. If you still have time at the University, think about that. When the stress gets to be too much, take a breath and enjoy the special kind of stress only our school can create. Take an extra look when you walk by the Rotunda. I’m content with not knowing when my lasts were because — pandemic or not — I shouldn’t expect to know when my lasts are. 

I can’t blame the virus, and, likewise I can’t blame President Ryan for trying to juggle everyone’s best interests in a time as trying as now. I want to direct my disappointment somewhere, though. I think I will have to work on changing my relationship with disappointment, and that will help me deal with it. 

Obviously, I can’t make myself feel better by sheer will — if it were that easy, everyone would do it. I need to work with my disappointment — acknowledge it, be with it and carry on knowing that it’s there. So while I feel disappointed, I’m going to keep moving forward within my circumstances. 

Now that I know this particular relationship will be a work in progress for a while, what’s next? Honestly, I’m really digging social distancing. I’m not bored — I have the Internet, streaming services, books, dogs and so much more. It’s hard to put my time to good use while I’m feeling this disorientation that comes with a pandemic, but I’m trying to remember that I can spend time well without being productive.

Marianne Williamson tweeted a meditation about changing our relationship with our homes, and I’ve really been thinking about it. When I start focusing inward — on myself, my mind and my home — instead of focusing on the news, the world and the tragedy, I become more centered and feel less overwhelmed. I think that’s what we’re supposed to be doing right now. Because of the nature of our University, I feel pressure to go cure the virus, organize a mass volunteer effort or even just to have a major personal accomplishment during quarantine. But I think we’re just supposed to be making the best of the situation, and as long as we’re trying, that’s alright. 

Riley Creamer is a Life Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com.

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