By Andrew Otts
The week leading up to the closures my panic began to set in. I had spent the last few nights working at my bar, and despite the fear of a pandemic, we were consistently packed. The tension between my co-workers was palpable as we all began to realize just how exposed and at risk we might be. At the time, none of us seemed to be too worried about making money and were more focused on staying healthy. That would change in the coming weeks, but for the moment the fear of getting sick had my anxiety skyrocketing.
After a long week of paranoia, I returned home from my Sunday night shift to hear the news — We were all out of a job. This is a dramatic moment for you and many others. At first the statewide closures made me feel better, as if our region would curb the virus altogether and things would go back to normal after a month. I kept this illusion up until I received my first miniscule unemployment check and realized that I may not be able to sustain myself financially. It began to set in that I was out of work indefinitely, and that my income would be reliant on the same system that millions of others are trying to utilize. To make matters worse, the videography business that I had worked so hard to establish in the past few months came to a grinding halt, and I was left wondering if I’ll ever be able to get it off the ground again. The fear of a recession, or even a depression, is real, and I’m one of the millions that are feeling the brunt of the economic cost. And then, there’s my education.
Fortunately for me, I’ve never been too involved on my campus beside my classes. So, when the university closed its doors and students and faculty were forced online, the change wasn’t as abrupt. Still, with internet complications at my apartment, a fully online experience was an obstacle on its own. Keeping track of my assignments and class updates became a full-time job in its own right. I find myself longing to be back on campus and in a classroom, and I miss the routine that class brought to my life, just like so many others. It has now been over a month, and as my semester begins to wrap up, I am left knowing that I have a long summer ahead of me. What’s worse is that the tiny walls of my overpriced apartment are beginning to close in, trapping me in a dimly lit box with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
This pandemic has been hard on all of us, and I fear it’s just getting started. There is a long road ahead and plenty of uncertainty, but you have to keep your head up and focus on the matters at hand. I’ve learned that worrying about what could happen or what’s to come will only do more bad than good. The important thing is to keep yourself safe, do as much as you can to prepare yourself for the worst and to find ways to keep yourself from going stir-crazy. Hopefully sometime in the near future we can all get back to some normality, but for now we have to tough it out, work together and hope for the best.