Mourn the loss of old experiences while embracing the new

Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier managing editor

Today is the first day of my senior year. My “last first day” of college. This is always a bittersweet time. At the beginning of the fall seniors are happy to be reunited with their friends. We’re excited to come back to the college we love. We’re ready to take on our role as campus leaders. But we’re also sad, because the first day of classes is the first of the many “lasts” we will go through throughout the year, our last formals, our last Casino Nights, our last late night Waffle House outings, all the way to our last day of classes. 

This year is different. Berry is not going to be the same as it was in the past. Seniors are not going to be able to experience their final year the way everyone else did. It’s not fair. Even though Berry faculty, staff and students have been doing amazing work to ensure that everyone gets to maintain those same experiences, they are not going to be the same. And while missing out on those experiences is well worth protecting our campus and keeping our community safe, it’s still sad. Since classes were moved online after last spring break, I’ve been heartbroken about everything that will be different in our new world. 

A few weeks ago, while trying to coordinate the Carrier’s staff returning to campus for our annual training, I broke down. I was ranting to my mother about how frustrating trying to plan the return was, and I just started sobbing. At first I thought it was just stress, but after talking through my thoughts and feelings I realized it was more than that. I felt like back in March, seemingly overnight, COVID- 19 took my whole college experience away from me. Thinking about it feels like a sucker punch in the gut. I never took the time to process that monumental change, because I never realized exactly how monumental of a change it was. When classes were first moved online, I thought everything would be back to normal in two weeks. Then, everything would be back to normal by the end of the semester. Then, everything would be back to normal by the end of the summer. But here we are, five months later, with no sense of normalcy in sight. It’s devastating. It feels like I was robbed, and honestly, we all were. 

During that break down, my mom told me something that I keep holding onto. 

“Just because things are going to be different doesn’t mean they’re going to be bad,” she said. “You can mourn everything you might miss, but you shouldn’t let that get in your way of enjoying everything that you can do.” 

It is healthy to process your feelings, especially the bad ones. It’s okay to feel sad, to feel like you’re missing out. But we’re back on campus. We’re going to have a school year, even if it looks different than normal. There is still plenty of room to have those quintessential college experiences, in a safe way. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it has to be bad. Don’t let those feelings of longing for the pre-COVID-19 way of life distract you from the present. We can all still enjoy the year, even from six feet apart. 

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