Before the pandemic, life was good to say the least. I had just got initiated into my fraternity and started to build friendships with those who I didn’t that well. I was enjoying the spring weather and school was going great, then at the drop of a hat the world turned upside down. I went from going to campus everyday and being with friends living what you would call a “normal” college student lifestyle to being back in my hometown stuck in my house for a couple of months. My house is not a mansion by any means, my family and I live in a two bedroom house which is smaller than I am making it sound. The pandemic was a time of fear and uncertainty, watching the news every night hearing about hospitals overflowing with people and seeing the new covid stats about how many people have died from this disease. Being alone in isolation plus the constant “bad news” every single night can take a toll on peoples headspace. This pandemic has had a major effect on not only my life but lives of people all across the globe. Many people are facing challenges that they never thought they had to face before. People like to be around other people and the sudden change with social distancing (which was necessary to prevent more spread of covid 19) but it makes people feel more isolated and lonely which can cause a spike in stress or anxiety. According to the CDC, stress and anxiety is becoming a common occurrence with so many people in isolation.
Due to the pandemic many lost their jobs and they were either fired or laid off. I am a part of this group, I was working as a valet at the J.W. Marriott and got laid off because people were not going to stay in hotels because of quarantine. For people who were not a part of this group had to deal with either a complete change with how they get their work done an example being learning how to work through zoom. In the case of essential workers such as nurses, doctors, and many others have to deal with highly stressful situations and put themselves at risk every day. Both of these situations can take a toll on one’s mental health. I know when my dad had to go back to work at Toyota, he works on the factory door line, and being so nervous that he would be exposed to Covid 19. Even now, my mom and I still worry that he could test positive for covid from being around his coworkers.
The aspect that may have taken the largest effect on my own headspace and the biggest cause of stress was watching my peers and friends still going out enjoying life while I was trying to be safe in isolation. I remember friends texting or calling me asking me to hangout or to go do something with them and I had to say no because “I am still trying to lay low because of covid”. A part of me wanted to scream at them “You should be doing the same thing!”, and if I did decide to be with them (in the later half of the pandemic) I was the one who had to make sure we were outside and wore masks like I was the crazy one. I felt like an outsider because my friends and peers were acting like covid was not a big deal, that brought me so much stress and anxiety because I felt like I was being judged for doing the right thing. I often think that if I were to go out with friends and I tested positive for covid then spread it to family putting them in danger in the worst case scenario dying from it I would never be able to forgive myself for that. Many people in my age group who were still going out were making claims “ You are in college once.” This frustrated me as well because it is true. I hate that ten years from now I will look back and say “yeah college was okay, spent most of my time staring at screens and staying inside.” This is not the college experience that people grow up expecting, it is the opposite. I want that experience but, I am trying to do the right thing not only for my own safety but for my loved ones. Before covid hit I was getting close with people and trying to build relationships but now I am staying inside being safe while others are getting closer and closer figuratively and literally while I feel that I am an “outsider” for being responsible.
Abbott, Alison. “COVID’s Mental-Health Toll: How Scientists Are Tracking a Surge in Depression.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 3 Feb. 2021, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00175-z.
“Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.
“Mental Health and COVID-19.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/covid-19.