On March 10th, Yale put out an announcement that we would be moving online with a promise to reaccess by April 5th. Less than a week later, they announced that we wouldn’t be returning for the rest of the semester. Now, there’s no guarantee we’ll be back in the fall.
This time has prompted a lot of thinking about meritocracy, Yale as an institution, and what really motivates me to do things. It’s really easy for me to complain about Yale. I’m tempted to criticize its less than ideal response to this situation. I wish that it was doing better or more. Those conversations are important. I’m glad they’re happening, but I don’t think I need to add to that right now.
At the beginning of quarantine and the age of social distancing, I was always looking toward end dates. When I left campus early for spring break, I said goodbye to my friends, but I thought it was only for two weeks. A week later, I said goodbye to my boyfriend. I didn’t know that we would be long distance for an indefinite period of time.
On March 13th, Andy Crouch tweeted:
“Honestly hadn’t planned on giving up quite this much for Lent”@ahc
I resonated with that even though I’m not Catholic. But some part of me thought that after Easter, everything would go back to normal. Lent is only 40 days, and I started late.
Today is Easter, and things are so far from normal. Tomorrow, we will not wake up to a world where our problems have gone away and COVID-19 is just a distant memory. All the things I (unwillingly) “gave up for lent” will still be off-limits.
But what is Easter? It’s a day when Christians around the world, me included, proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. It’s not that something happens on this day each year that makes it any more true than it usually is. We just choose this day to commemorate a truth that is true every day. The holiday helps us remember what we might otherwise take for granted.
In that same spirit, I want to take today to practice gratitude for things I’ve been taking for granted.
Things to Be Thankful For
The last couple of weeks have made me realize that the things I truly love about Yale are never the things advertised in promotional brochures. Yale’s ratings in US weekly and status as a world-class university with a low student-faculty ratio fail to capture why that little pocket of New Haven has become home.
I find myself missing the little things: making eye contact with my friend in the middle of class, the laughter down the hall that means my suitemates are home, dining hall mac and cheese, the squirrels on Old Campus, and random “study breaks” you only have time for if you are not in fact trying to study. I’m thankful for the time that I had enjoying those things. I’m also thankful that as a sophomore I’ll get to enjoy those things again.
Much of my reflections on this time have been centered on the things I don’t have now. It’s almost as if every thing to be grateful for from Yale was a reason to be sad now that I can’t be there. We have all lost something. Some of us have lost internships, study abroad experiences, and jobs. Others of us have lost loved ones, but the fact that some people have it worse doesn’t negate the fact feeling of loss that we all feel at some level.
This time isn’t the same, and there is so much to lament. But personally, I need to stop defining this time by everything it isn’t and start thinking about what it is.
This week, I’m thankful for technology. I’ve spent the better part of the last couple weeks complaining about the diet social interaction that Zoom forces upon us, but if this had happened even ten years ago, most of us wouldn’t even have a front-facing camera.
I can still talk to my friends even though they’re far away. We can still be reading/watching the same content. I still have weekly office hours with my writing tutor.
My professors have been thinking about ways to modify their courses. I have no more papers to write for this semester. In lieu of a stressful finals term, I’ll get to share my research online in blog post format.
Today, I’m grateful to be in Arkansas. From here, I can see my family’s smiling faces, the stars at night, and cows by the highway. I never realized how much I missed them.