By Tessa Castor
Editor in chief

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. We haven’t had in-person classes since.

Since then, I’ve struggled to adapt to an at-home version of the college experience I’ve received for the last 7 ½ semesters.

I’ve spent a lot of time sad. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself.

I had to change my Leadership senior project, which was supposed to be a partnership between disability and aging care providers. Now, it’s too much of a risk for these entities to meet, especially when they have their own responses to COVID-19. My senior presentation will now take place on Zoom.

I’m supposed to graduate and get married in May. My bridal shower is postponed. My commencement exercises are postponed. I continue to apply for jobs only to receive emails that hiring is paused due to the virus.

It’s not supposed to be this way. I’m supposed to graduate, get married, move away and get a dog. I was really excited for that dog. Now, everything is in the air.

It’s not fair for any of us. We had events we were looking forward to this spring. We weren’t given a goodbye. We weren’t given an opportunity at closure.

On March 20, it hit me. The weight of this virus. I cried like a baby, and I cried for a long time. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair.

And while that cry session was necessary, while it relieved a pressure weighing deep in my stomach, while there are more sessions to come that will mimic it, it didn’t change what was happening in the world.

I still woke up the 21st and the 22nd and the 23rd and had a to-do list. I still had things I had to take care of, and on the 23rd I had my first Zoom class. I have only been assigned more homework since.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’re struggling to explain this to yourself, how you could lose your spring season or your final presentation for that class you love or just giving your friends from different states one last hug. I share your pain. I feel your pain. I grieve for your losses.

I keep saying 2020 is the year God keeps reminding me I’m not in charge. I like my agenda. I like my lists. I like knowing what tomorrow and next week and next month will bring.

But we can’t do that right now.

I’ve spent a lot of these weeks away in prayer and worship. I find these are a lot easier to find comfort in than social media and White House press conferences – though I still haven’t given those things up.

Before this pandemic, I finished each night congratulating myself for all I had accomplished that day. I fell asleep feeling either proud or angry at my productivity.

But, with COVID-19, I’ve had to rest.

I’ve scrolled social media for hours. I’ve taken naps. I’ve read for fun. I watched the entire season of “Tiger King” in a day.

I’ve seen the best in people.

I’ve seen people make masks for healthcare workers. I’ve seen children write inspirational chalk messages in their driveways. I’ve seen people offer to deliver meals and supplies to individuals with weak immune systems.

And I’ve had time to think.

I think maybe I’ve been looking at this pandemic all wrong. Yes, things are lost. We’ve been “robbed.”

But we may have been given a beautiful opportunity. To slow down. To look around. To seek connection. We’re isolated and unified at the same time. And that’s beautiful.

So while our lives are upended, while we don’t know what our lives will look like in a day or week or month, I believe we’re going to be okay.

Until then, let’s try to find hope and meaning in each day – even if that meaning is to connect via social media about how crazy Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin are. Let’s not coast through these days just to make it to the after. It’s not worth it.

Yes, we’ve lost so, so much. I’m so sorry that happened. But, in typical human form, we’ve managed to make our loss beautiful.

Call it God, call it fate, call it happenstance – our lives are our lives, in our houses or in a crowd.

I’m thinking that should count for something. Let’s make it count for something.

Tessa Castor wrote this column from her home in Clearwater, Kansas.