When I was at school, it was easy to get so caught up in myself and everything I had to do. I worked myself to death during the week and then spent all hours of the weekend rewarding myself for a job well done. In the fleeting time in between, I rarely ever found a moment to reach out to my family back at home.
It’s not so much that I couldn’t find the time, though — it’s just that I simply didn’t make the effort. Checking in is really just a simple text or phone call away, but my family group chat went day after day without any blue bubbles from me.
I got way too wrapped up in my life at school that I forgot about my life at home, and that’s a shame because my life at home, my family — they’re awesome.
When COVID-19 sent us home early, I felt sorry for myself and all of the events and experiences I would miss out on at school this semester. As I mourned the premature end of my second year, I was simultaneously submerged back into the everyday life of my family. Suddenly, the sadness associated with the loss of my school life didn’t seem as extreme as I originally imagined it to be.
My family has two college kids, a middle schooler, a working adult and two parents, and we’re usually all over the place. Now we’re back together for the first time in forever, and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. So, we’re reminiscing over old yearbooks. We’re fighting over the Wi-Fi. We’re using the Wii and playing board games late into the night. We’re hiding food in odd places around the house so that someone else won’t eat it. We’re doing puzzles together and collectively groaning about how bored we are.
The good and the bad — we’re doing it all together again. It took a worldwide crisis for me to realize just how lucky I am to have the family that I do.
Even when I’m cooped up in my room all day grinding out my school work — work that seems to have grown exponentially since the start of Zoom University — I get to join my family at the kitchen table for lunch and dinner. It’s little moments like these that I’ve learned to hold onto tighter than ever before.
However, even as I get more deeply rooted back into a family routine at home, the sadness I feel over a school year cut short does not dissolve completely.
I think about what my friends and I would be doing this weekend — how nice it would be to just walk on the Lawn with them, hang out on the Corner on a Friday night or just stay inside and watch “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” all day. I think about the sound of the obnoxiously loud fan in my bedroom at my apartment that sings me and my roommate to sleep every night as it almost flies off of the ceiling. I think about how lucky I was to be just a 10-minute walk away from my boyfriend’s place.
If we’re being honest, when I think back to my life at school over the past year, I realize that I have not been fully appreciating my relationships there, either. I have been taking for granted all of those things I just mentioned.
Now, I risk being disconnected from my friends from school in the same way I was disconnected from my family before. But if being at home has shown me one thing, it’s that every little moment matters. I’ve already started envisioning a future for myself where I reach out to them more, become more active in the family group chat and savor each precious second I get to spend with them. So, that’s exactly how I intend to treat my relationships with my friends from school right now.
I have to stay vigilant. My mother always told me that to have friends, you have to be a friend, so I need to stay connected via Zoom calls and group chats as best I can. When I get back to school, I can make sure to appreciate the little things and live in the moment like I have been doing here at home.
The truth is, life for a college student is a bit of a conundrum. It’s hard to belong to two physical places at once. It’s a confusing and perplexing way to live — and this predicament was just made even more complicated by trials of the times.
I see this all as an opportunity to better ourselves, to reflect on and strengthen the appreciation for the relationships in our lives. This situation is far from perfect, but we all must do our best to find light in the darkness in any way that we can.