The Pandemic Nearly Two Years Later / Kienna Van Dellen

How are students dealing with the global pandemic nearly two years later? I am sure that is a question many of us thought we would never be asking ourselves. The current student body on Mississippi College’s campus have all been through different seasons of life during the pandemic, whether it’s graduating high school amidst quarantine, getting sent home from MC back in March 2020, or finishing your bachelor’s degree on a random Tuesday as you finished your final online Zoom class. COVID-19 is now something that we’ve gotten used to and often can’t remember much of what life was like before it struck each of our lives. 

The acceptance of this pandemic seems to be similar to the stages of grief. Many of us are grieving what could have been within the past two years but have now come to a place of acceptance. The first stage was denial in the early weeks of the pandemic, then came anger in the height of 2020. Soon winter hit and the bargaining began as 2020 came to a close. The year 2021 brought the stage of mental battles and the slow journey to acceptance which is where we seem to land now in 2022. 

Students have become more resilient but it has come at a cost. The college experience is difficult when you can’t spend time in the community around you. For many of us, our mental health has been affected by all of the life changes around us as we try to navigate the adult world. We have begun to settle into the many uncertainties of life, such as the obstacles of financial struggle to pay for tuition, finding work in the current job market, having to adjust to online learning, and trying to be adaptable to the ever-changing campus environment. 

However, there are still glimmers of light amidst the many dark struggles each person faces on campus. Many of us students find ourselves trying to plan 10 steps ahead with grad school, post-college plans, relationships, and careers. The pandemic really brought much of this pre-planning to a grinding halt as we began to realize not knowing our next step in life doesn’t mean our world will crumble around us. I believe this has strengthened our ability to face the unknown without fear. Personally, it has given me the ability to give up control and trust in my Creator without fear for my future. 

College is already such a rich time of self-discovery, and yet the pandemic has brought another layer. We learned new hobbies, applied ourselves to our academics in ways we never thought we could have, and bonded with tight groups of friends that started as strangers hidden behind masks. This has forced us to slow down and evaluate our priorities. The rush to get ahead no longer seems important as the future becomes less clear. 

During this new season of acceptance of the present and a bittersweet look at the past, I encourage you to move forward with patience and endurance. Pause and look outside of yourself to see so many others all in this season with you. We have all struggled in our own ways but I encourage you to uphold each other in love and support. We have our differences but the limitations and frailties of the human life is what bonds us beyond our backgrounds and individual beliefs and is something I encourage you to support your neighbors in through this new year. 

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