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In the isolated world of COVID-19, where I’ve found it all too easy to feel helpless and alone, I realized that the unity of voices among the U.Va. Twitter community offered me a camaraderie unlike any other. So many people who I’ve only ever interacted with as small bubbles on a screen came to feel like friends to me — friends who, through their passionate calls for change, encourage me to find my own voice and equip myself for action.
When I first arrived at Mr. Jefferson’s University, the dreaded ice breakers that almost every professor requires on the first day of class came easily to me. “I’m from Forest, Virginia — home to Thomas Jefferson’s summer home, Poplar Forest — and I went to Jefferson Forest High School.” With all the anxieties that accompanied going away to college for the first time, at least I had this special connection to the University and its founder to give me a small sense of belonging.
Attending college was a choice that many of us made in order to advance our education and pursue our passions. While many people succinctly map out their journey to an undergraduate degree and focus on their goals with tunnel vision, there are always variables that happen along the way, hindering these missions. Whether it be an extra hard class or a mid-youth crisis, everyone struggles over a various number of speed bumps throughout their academic careers.
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.
As COVID-19 hits the world with full force, many restaurants and other food service establishments have been left bereft of customers. Just the other day I saw a video from two employees in a deserted Starbucks overwhelmed with boredom — a foreign and unnerving sight at a coffee shop typically bustling with customers.
Signing the bottom of the agreement for my first tattoo felt like signing my soul away to the devil. I’d grown up with my father telling me that tattoos and piercings are something that employers take note of every time a candidate walks into an interview, so I heard his voice whispering warnings in the back of my mind. But alas, I was 18 and freshly pierced, and I wasn’t thinking down the line at all.
Whether we are coming back from a late night of studying at 1515 or stumbling from one bar to the next, most of us know what it’s like to walk the Corner on a Friday night. The scene is a kaleidoscopic horde of people. Glamorous clothes are complemented by colorful shouts and the unmistakable stench of Busch Light. From the perspective of any old student who traverses the Corner nearly every Friday night, this has become a natural part of life.