Being a Young Adult in 2020

Right now, it is okay not to be okay. That’s something that we’ve all heard a lot. I just want to really make sure it sets in. We are living through a very monumental time in history, although I terribly wish we weren’t. I’d give just about anything for one day to feel normal. Some days I find myself picking out outfits that match my clean masks, which I never could have imagined. But I am also dedicated to keeping my loved ones safe.
I took Adult Development with Professor Madilyn Harms two years ago and my biggest takeaway was that our under-25-year-old brains are not designed to think about the community. It doesn’t come naturally for us to be constantly thinking about others. COVID-19 pushed us into having to consider much bigger communities in our decision making. Not only do we have to keep ourselves safe, but we also have to help keep so many others safe.
When I made the decision to come back to campus I was so torn. I didn’t know what the right thing to do was, I also didn’t fully understand why the school was pushing so hard for us to come back at all. Ultimately I made the decision to come back because I was afraid of losing more scholarships or my on-campus housing spot with my best friends. I recently had a chance to reevaluate that decision, and given the circumstances I do think that I made the right decision. My home base is incredibly isolated; between March 13, 2019, and September 25, 2020, I only saw two people outside of my family and my boyfriend. Making the decision to go back to campus to have more social interaction was wondrous for my mental health.
Last week I had to make another hard decision. I have been diligently watching the COVID-19 numbers for both Gustavus and Nicollet county. They were, and still are, going up quite quickly. My hopes were to be able to have Thanksgiving with my family without the risk of exposing them. I also work off-campus at a family-run dairy farm and I love them as much as I love my blood family. I would feel absolutely terrible if I exposed them as well. What were the reasons I was staying at school? All my classes are online. So I made the decision to go home early.
I thought that I would feel safer here, and in some regards I do. I am able to get food without needing to be in a group of people, and I don’t have to share a bathroom with loads of folks. But COVID-19 is ramping up here in rural Minnesota too. The people I love got COVID anyway. That Thanksgiving I was dreaming about is off the table, even though I’m home.
Did I make the right decision? I don’t even know if there is an answer to that question. There is so much fear everywhere and my brain still hasn’t set up the “care of the community” network of decision making. Maybe not knowing if I made the right choice is the closest thing I’ll get to feeling like I did the right thing. I hope I’m able to look back on this with grace and compassion for the 21-year-old living through a global pandemic.
Life was hard at school and life is hard at home. I’m usually a very optimistic person, but it’s getting hard to tap into that happiness. There’s one song that I try to listen to every day: Hope Machine by the Okee Dokee brothers. The song goes, “They say life is hard, and they’re not wrong. Gotta keep that hope machine running strong,” and that’s a good mantra to have running through your mind in 2020. Life does suck. All we can do is keep on going. Soon it won’t be 2020 anymore, and maybe 2021 won’t be much better, but we need a change. Right now call your friends, brush your teeth and wear a mask. Things will get better, so just hold on for now.

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